The behind the annual Al Quds Day parade in London has written to all headteachers urging them to “resist pressure for suppressing free speech on Israel/Palestine”.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission wrote to heads this week claiming there had been complaints from pupils across the country who had been “reprimanded” for showing support for Palestine.
They claim pupils had been disciplined for saying Free Palestine, wearing badges or displaying flags – and that teachers had been “openly warned that such slogans could incite violence, as grounds for their suppression”.
This comes after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson wrote to all headteachers to remind them of their legal requirements for political impartiality following a spate of incidents involving pro-Palestinian activism at schools, including claims of Jewish teachers being targeted.
Jewish News reported this week that a Jewish teacher has spoken out after becoming the target of physical abuse in the classroom following increased tensions in the Middle East – including students sticking Palestinian flags in her hair.
IHRC accuse Williamson of promoting “pro-Israel organisations” such Community Security Trust (CST), while condemning the “equation of antisemitism with anti-Israel statements”.
Rabbi David Meyer, Chief Executive of the Partnerships for Jewish Schools told Jewish News: “It is disturbing that any organisation could be troubled by the Secretary of State’s request that children be taught, what is an exceptionally complex subject, in a balanced and reasoned manner.
“His letter was welcomed by school leaders across the country who recognise that there can be no place for hatred or extremism in our schools. The Secretary of State should be applauded for his determination to ensure that schools must be a safe place for all children. “
The letter was signed by representatives from the IHRC, Jewish Network for Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Inminds. It was also signed by Reverend Stephen Sizer, who once suggested Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks.
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