A cartoon in last month’s Global Studies Regents exam that portrayed Israel as being against peace and trigger-happy should not have been there, New York’s education department said Wednesday, issuing an apology after having previously defended the graphic.
“We regret this test question was included in the Regents exam and apologize to those who were offended by it,” the department said in a statement. “We are reviewing our internal procedures to vet all questions to ensure inappropriate questions are not included on future exams.”
The cartoon illustrated three soldiers, with one of them identified with a Star of David on his back, in the midst of firing guns hiding behind a table. The caption reads: “I knew this peace table would come in handy someday.”
The portrayal was made by Chris Britt and first appeared in the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois. It was included in the state test on Jan. 24, along with questions for 10th graders to answer, such as “What is the main idea of this cartoon?”
Despite initial calls for an apology, the agency initially insisted there was nothing wrong with it, saying it taught children to be critical thinkers. They changed their minds when the American Jewish Congress started an online petition demanding an apology that drew more than 1,300 signatures.
The AJC petition condemned the cartoon as “blatantly anti-Israel, disparaging of Israeli soldiers … and is entirely inappropriate to include on a test administered to young minds.”
The department’s senior deputy commissioner for educational policy, Jhone Ebert, spoke to the AJC on Tuesday and issued the apology the following day.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who had issued a condemnation of the cartoon when it first appeared, said Wednesday that he was happy with the results.
“Better late than never,” Hikind said. “How a cartoon like this was approved in the first place is beyond my comprehension.”