CanadaIsrael news photo: file

The school board in Toronto, Canada, has decided to support a novel that portrays IDF soldiers and Judea and Samaria residents in a negative way.

“The Shepherd's Granddaughter” is a novel published in 2008 by Canadian author Anne Laurel Carter. The story tells the tale of a young Arab girl living in Judea and Samaria who wants to be a shepherd like her grandfather. In her quest to become a shepherd, she encounters violent Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria as well as violent Israeli soldiers, who poison some of her sheep, bulldoze her house, shoot and kill her dog, prevent her family from harvesting their olives, and beat and jail her father and uncle.

Toronto parent Brian Henry recently complained to the Toronto District School (TDSB) about the nature of the novel. Henry expressed his concern that the unbalanced book could result in anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism. While he said he did not want the book banned from schools, Henry said in his letter that “our teacher-librarians should not be encouraging our children to read a biased, one-sided and prejudicial account of such a complex and sensitive issue.”

In a statement released this past March, Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s Executive Vice President said: “We have written to the provincial Minister of Education expressing our concerns with this book which is so clearly biased against Israel, and have called for its removal from the recommended reading list. Having these types of one-sided books in the classroom marginalizes Jewish children and is definitely not in the spirit of the TDSB, which recently banned the hate-fest known as ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ from its schools.”

Dimant added that “a young girl, who admitted to having Jewish friends, recently reviewed The Shepherd's Granddaughter on a popular book-review website and stated that reading this book made her want to ‘go to the West Bank and kill Israelis.’ Clearly, this propaganda has no place in our classrooms and is against Canadian values.”

Despite the outrage, however, the TDSB has chosen to continue to support the novel. Chris Spence, the TDSB’s director of education said in a response letter to Henry: “After evaluating this report and taking some time to personally read the novel, my decision is to accept the review committee’s nine recommendations. The Shepherd's Granddaughter has the potential to engage our Grade 7 and 8 students (a critical age for the development of social consciousness about human society) in understanding the complex issues of their world.” This expression of support means that the novel can continue to be offered to students in school libraries throughout Toronto.