Socialist Worker

Cage launch court challenge over right to raise Palestine in schools

Issue No. 2766

A mass march in solidarity with Palestine earlier this year

A mass march in solidarity with Palestine earlier this year (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Rights organisation Cage is challenging the Tory education minister after he sent a letter to headteachers stifling students’ support for Palestine.

In the letter last May, Gavin Williamson said there had been an “increased focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in many schools,” and a “worrying spike in antisemitic incidents.”

The letter followed reports of children—mostly Muslim—being accused of antisemitism by school staff for showing solidarity with Palestine.

Cage, which defends Muslims against repressive state policies, has a dossier of 47 cases of Muslim children being censored for supporting Palestine.

These include students suspended for wearing Palestine badges.

As well as details of schools that banned displaying Palestinian colours.

Banned

It also includes an example of a student being banned from an online learning platform for talking about Palestine with friends.

Williamson’s letter said schools should “ensure impartiality” and deal with antisemitism “with due seriousness”

Now the organisation is appealing for a judicial review against Williamson’s letter.

Cage said Williamson’s letter “amounted to censorship of political dissent in schools and discriminated against students by infringing their right to freedom of expression.

“The minister’s intervention, although cloaked in concerns around antisemitism, had the impact of censoring views in schools that challenge the state-sponsored narrative on Israel.

“The aim was to set a fixed template within which pupils’ discussion on Israel-Palestine should be conducted.”


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