Be impartial in Israel-Palestine conflict, headteachers told after anti-Semitic incidents

29 May 2021, 08:55

Be neutral in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, teachers have been told
Be neutral in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, teachers have been told. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Headteachers have been told to show "political impartiality" when dealing with the Israel-Palestinian conflict after a rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the recent Gaza conflict, which saw Hamas fire rockets at Israel and the state target the strip with airstrikes, had led to Jewish students and teachers being bullied.

Young people have displayed a "strong personal interest" in the conflict and in some cases older pupils had engaged in "political activity", Mr Williamson said.

They should be offered a "balanced presentation of opposing views" while schools must avoid using materials that are politically biased, and from working with organisations that "promote anti-Semitic or discriminatory views".

Read more: Israel approves ceasefire after 11 days of deadly violence in Gaza

That includes organisations which reject Israel's right to exist, Mr Williamson said.

In message to schools, many of which are breaking up for half-term, Mr Williamson added that headteachers had "legal duties regarding political impartiality".

"Schools should ensure that political expression by senior pupils is conducted sensitively, avoiding disruption for other pupils and staff," he said.

"It is unacceptable to allow some pupils to create an atmosphere of intimidation or fear for other students and teachers."

The 11 day conflict killed 12 people in Israel and more than 200 in Palestine.