A new report shows how pro-Palestinian sentiment in schools and colleges across the country is being censored.

In the 47 cases pressure group CAGE has handled so far, nearly all of them resulted in reprimands for students and occasionally teachers, due to showing their support for the Palestinian cause. Cases were reported in primary and secondary schools and sixth form colleges. All incidents involved Muslims/Muslim children.

In May 2021, Israel started its latest assault against the Palestinian people. Israeli forces stormed the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, as the residents of the Sheikh Jarrah district in Jerusalem were being evicted from their homes by Israeli settlers.

In the latest bout of violence, the Gaza Strip was bombarded again, which resulted in 256 people being killed, 2,000 wounded and Gaza’s already fragile infrastructure damaged further. This resulted in unprecedented demonstrations across the world and a rise in advocacy and support for the Palestinians.

According to the report, one incident involved: “A student in year seven of a school in Bradford (who) had an image of the Palestinian flag on her head, and had drawn the flag too.

"The teacher said she could not have the flag in school and physically snatched it off her head. She also received two detentions.

"The student was extremely scared. The school claimed it was a violation of their uniform policy - however teachers could not point to any part of the policy that detailed this. Subsequently, the school said that it would be updating its uniform policy.”

The report states: “Rather than cultivating discussion around Palestine, many teachers are going above and beyond their roles to stifle or silence discussion.

“The attack on Palestine solidarity under the guise of bureaucratic manoeuvering is deeply cynical and invoking school policy or law to censor students has proven deeply confusing for students, parents and even teachers.

“The kneejerk manner in which teachers and school management have sought to suffocate any discussion about Palestine goes further than censorship of other political issues in schools.

CAGE recommends that parents should play an important role in supporting and nurturing their children’s curiosity to explore ideas and express themselves. This is particularly important in this context where schools are shutting down spaces for students to do so when it comes to Palestine.

They advise schools that student activism should not be disciplined, and that Palestine should not be singled out from other pressing current issues.

In the report, CAGE highlights the government’s position on the Israel-Palestine issue and their recent interventions into the policing of Palestine solidarity in schools, that it is deeply ideological and is being forced upon the education sector.

You can find more on the report here