New York Republicans Demand Investigation Into Alleged Antisemitic Question On State Exam

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UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from a New York State Education Department spokesperson.

House representative lawmakers from New York sent a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state’s Department of Education Commissioner Betty Rosa demanding an investigation into a potentially antisemitic question on the New York Regents Exam that asked respondents “who benefited most” from the changes in the Israeli borders from 1947 to 2017.

The letter was sent Thursday by nine Republican representatives, headed by Rep. Mike Lawler, but did not include Republican representatives George Santos or Nicole Malliotakis. Lawler said he was “appalled” to see such a “blatantly antisemitic question” on the exam, according to the press release. (RELATED: College Offering New Course On Israel’s ‘Crime Of Apartheid’)

The letter came from a place of “grave concern” after lawmakers saw the content of one of the questions on the exam.

“We are writing to express our grave concern with the abhorrent, anti-Semitic question included in this winter’s NYS Regents Exam in Global History and Geography,” the letter read. “The question posed, which is also displayed in an image below, asks who benefited the most from changes shown on maps of Israel and surrounding areas from 1947 to 2017.”

The question shows three maps of Israel starting from 1947 when Israel declared its independence as a Jewish state, in 1949 after the Arab-Israeli war that gave Jordan control of eastern Jerusalem and the East Bank, with Egypt controlling Gaza and, finally, a map from 2017 showing the changes after Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1908, according to the letter. Respondents were given four options to answer: “Zionists and Jewish immigrants,” “the government of Jordan,” “Palestinian nationalists” and “the citizens of Lebanon.”

Israeli soldiers patrol the center of Jerusalem on January 30, 2023 as the authorities intensified security measures following last week's shooting attack by a Palestinian man who killed seven people near a synagogue in the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city. - The attack came a day after Israeli forces killed 10 Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp, in the deadliest raid by Israeli forces in the West Bank in nearly two decades. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP) (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli soldiers patrol the center of Jerusalem on January 30, 2023, as the authorities intensified security measures following last week’s shooting attack by a Palestinian man who killed seven people near a synagogue in the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of the city. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images)

“For centuries, the State of Israel, one of our Nation’s greatest allies, and Jews have fought for their right to exist,” the letter said. “This question attempts to cast doubt on that very notion and rewrite history by erasing the struggle for independence that the State of Israel faced.”

The letter concluded by calling for an “immediate investigation” calling the question an “abject failure” of the education system and an “attack on New York’s Jewish community.”

“Which is why we are calling on Governor Hochul and Commissioner Rosa to open an immediate investigation into this matter, so that we can hold those responsible accountable for this heinous action,” Lawler said in the press release. “It is imperative that we take on anti-Semitism wherever it attempts to take root and a thorough investigation into this matter should help prevent a question of this nature from ever appearing on a state Regents Exam again.”

A spokesperson for the New York State Education Department told the DCNF that questions for the exam were approved by a “diverse group” of state “social studies teachers.”

“All exam questions are reviewed multiple times by NYS-certified teachers and State Education Department subject matter and testing specialists to ensure they are not biased and accurately measure the learning standards,” the spokesperson said. “The questions were designed to test students’ knowledge of geography as it relates to historical events surrounding the creation of the State of Israel, including the impact of the Holocaust on migration to Israel.”

The spokesperson also clarified that “as per standard practice” the questions will not be used on future exams and that the department is committed to “advance equitable access to opportunity while keeping the lessons and atrocities of the past, such as the Holocaust.”

Hochul and Lawler did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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