Aussie Text: Polygamy in Israel

Anti-Semitism in Australia: A textbook teaches that polygamy is practiced in Israel and that most of the world’s conflicts relate to Jews.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 15:00

A new textbook introduced into a Sydney, Australia school charges that “much modern conflict in the world is related to the reactions of other groups to the Jewish people." The author, Christopher Hartney of the University of Sydney, also wrote that polygamy is “commonly practiced in the Jewish State."

Bedouin men practice polygamy but the author did not refer specifically to them, leaving the impression that Jews follow the practice. Polygamy among Jews has been prohibited by rabbis for centuries and is illegal in the State of Israel. However, the government has made an exception for Bedouins, citing it as a religious freedom.

Hartney’s stab at Jews as being involved in most modern conflicts in the world, among other slurs against Jews, caught the attention of Jewish students, who complained to authorities. The author also wrote that the Passover holiday involves slaughtering lambs, [and] smearing the lintel on the front door with blood,” rituals that are described in the Bible but which are not practiced today.

Sacrificing animals was performed in the Holy Temples until the destruction of the Second Temple nearly 2,000 years ago.

Jewish leaders in Sydney expressed fear that the book, which already has been distributed to 5,000 students, will fuel anti-Semitism.

The publisher of the textbook, Cambridge University Press, said it will “review” the objections, although the Jewish Board of Deputies has demanded that the current edition of the book be withdrawn.

"It is alarming that a book which is widely used in schools across New South Wales could contain so many inaccuracies and such appalling statements - one of which is in the realm of racial vilification,” said Board of Deputies chief executive Vic Alhadeff.