Daily Israel Report

Exam Board Under Fire for 'Justify' Anti-Semitism Question

One of Britain’s leading exam boards is under fire for asking students to ‘justify’ anti-Semitism, on a national examination.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 5/28/2012, 7:10 PM

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Reuters

One of Britain’s leading exam boards is under fire from the Jewish community for asking students to 'justify' anti-Semitism on a national examination. 

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) examinations board posed the question, as part of a religious studies General Certificate for Secondary Education (GCSE) assessment for 16-year-old British students, asking them to “explain, briefly, why some people are prejudiced against Jews”.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said, “to suggest anti-Semitism could ever be explained was "insensitive and, frankly, bizarre."

"AQA needs to explain how and why this question was included in an exam paper," Gove added.

"Clearly this is unacceptable and has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews or Judaism,” Board of Deputies of British Jews Jon Benjamin told the Jewish Chronicle.

The AQA said the question did not attempt to justify prejudice and stressed that it was not intended to cause offence.

A spokesman for the examination board issued a statement claiming, "In many exam questions 'explain' is used to mean 'give an account of. For example, in the past we have asked students to explain why some people commit crimes, but we have not intended to suggest that we condone criminal activity.”

"The question concerned acknowledges that some people are prejudiced, but we did not intend to imply in any way that prejudice is justified.”

"The board is obviously concerned that this question may have caused offence, as this was absolutely not our intention," the statement continued.

Exam regulator Ofqual confirmed it had contacted AQA for comment on the controversial test, saying: “We will take appropriate follow-up action if necessary.”