Students in the Rialto Unified School District near Los
Angeles were asked to write an essay on whether the Holocaust
was "merely a political scheme created to influence public
emotion and gain," the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human
rights group, said on Monday.
"This assignment mistakenly provides moral equivalency between
history and bigotry," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean
of the Los Angeles-based center.
Mainstream public debate about the veracity of the Holocaust, in
which an estimated 6 million Jews died, is almost unheard of in
the United States.
Local media said death threats were made against a school system
spokeswoman and an interim superintendent after the assignment
was publicized, which the Rialto Police Department could not
In what it called a clarification, the school district said on
Monday in a statement on its website that there was no offensive
intent in the assignment, which was designed to "exercise the
use of critical thinking skills."
Media reports also said teachers would revise the assignment.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by John
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