Between May 10th-21st 2021, the Gaza strip was bombarded, which attracted international condemnation and led to 256 people being killed, 2,000 wounded and Gaza’s fragile infrastructure razed to the ground.
As hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Britain in protest against this assault, students expressed support for Palestine in schools. This included putting up ‘Free Palestine’ posters, wearing symbols of Palestine and the Palestine flag, or organising actions and protests at school. For many of these children, this was the first time they mobilised for Palestine.
Yet the response from schools was often swift and unforgiving.
Since May 2021 we have handled 47 cases of students – and occasionally, teachers – being censored for expressing or exercising support for Palestine.
Cases featured in the report include:
- The school that banned students from wearing or displaying any colours of the Palestinian flag, as well as abayas or any clothing resembling ‘Middle Eastern clothes’.
- The student with behavioural issues who was referred to Prevent and social services after emailing videos of Islamic lectures and Islamic spiritual healing to his school to express his unhappiness at a school’s one sided presentation on Israel-Palestine.
- The students who were suspended because it was deemed that wearing a Palestine badge to school was ‘inappropriately political’ and may ‘offend’ students.
- The student banned from using their online classroom platform due to them discussing Palestine with friends on it, and threatened with exclusion.
The 20-page analysis which features over a dozen case examples, concludes with clear recommendations for schools to reject the securitisation of Palestinian activism and to create an environment that nurtures debate. For the government, CAGE has demanded it ceases its partisan interventions and its authoritarian management of the education sector.