Thursday, 8 April 2010

Heaven and earth unmoved

Despite Sheila Ward's promise to "move heaven and earth to have The Shepherd’s Granddaughter taken off the school library shelves" the Toronto District School Board announced yesterday that they have rejected the demand by Brian Henry and B'nai Brith that the book be withdrawn. According to TDSB official Lloyd McKell:
We believe as staff, that the Shepherd's Granddaughter does not cross the line into literature promoting hate or animosity towards others. On the other hand, it 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. The Shepherd's Granddaughter contains several themes for creative discussions in our classrooms, such as multigenerational families and relationships, aging; experiencing loss; influences of religion and faith; gender roles, and gender stereotypes, effects of family separation through emigration, the value of education… As well, this book can certainly be used to explore issues of bias and prejudice, and that students can learn from such exploration… Having said that, we acknowledge that guidance from the teachers and teacher librarians is important in producing the desired outcomes described above.
The wholesale rejection of B'nai Brith's position is another nail in the coffin of the lobby group's credibility. B'nai Brith used to have a reputation as a legitimate human rights organization whose statements on discrimination  were taken seriously by public officials. However, with the growing dominance of Frank Dimant, the group has increasingly become little more than a shill for hardline rejectionist Zionism. Where once, public officials would tread carefully when it came to rejecting or opposing B'nai Brith's positions, now they are seen as just another lobby group whose positions can be dismissed without any negative consequences.

Hopefully, MPPs at Queen's Park will remember this the next time B'nai Brith or its frenemy, the Canadian Jewish Congress, try to push propaganda as public policy and insist, for instance, that criticism of Israel be condemned by government as being anti-Semitic.
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