Australia textbook ‘offensive’

By Dan Goldberg, October 29, 2009
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The Asia-Pacific arm of a major UK publisher has withdrawn a secondary school textbook from Australian shelves, after it was accused of containing offensive claims about Jews.

Cambridge University Press (Australia & New Zealand) said on Tuesday that it “recognised the concerns that have been expressed” about the chapter on Judaism in the Cambridge Studies of Religion, and would “seek the advice of an independent expert in Judaism”.

The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies was furious when it was alerted last week to the chapter on Judaism, which claimed that “much modern conflict in the world is related to the reactions of other groups to the Jewish people” and that Passover “involves slaughtering lambs, [and] smearing the lintel on the front door with blood”.

The book, by Christopher Hartney of the University of Sydney, also claimed that polygamy is “commonly practised” in Israel and that “the tendency for Jews to choose sophisticated professions such as law, medicine and scholarship is closely connected to Jewish family togetherness”.

The textbook has already been distributed to about 5,000 students in New South Wales.

Last updated: 5:41pm, October 29 2009