Schools in Britain have been clamping down on protest in relation to Palestine, yet they have been actively encouraging support and solidarity for Ukraine, even fundraising to purchase weapons for Ukraine.
In a blow to free speech, a high court judge, Dame Beverly Lang, recently allowed the Department of Education to continue its clamp down on Palestine Solidarity in British schools after denying permission for a judicial review brought by human rights group, CAGE.
The legal challenge was in relation to a discriminatory letter sent to schools by the then Education Minister, Gavin Williamson, which gave instructions to schools on how to present the occupation of Palestine and recommended schools work with three specific organizations to deliver a "balanced presentation" of the issue.
As this program pointed out some months ago, none of the three organizations provide balanced or truthful accounts of the occupation of Palestine. In fact, every one of them has a covert Zionist agenda.
"Solutions Not Sides", which is a project of "One Voice", a group set up by prominent Zionists. Our research shows that multiple staff members have previously worked for the Israeli regime, including for the occupation forces. Some worked in Zionist intelligence, others worked for Israel at the same time as working for "One Voice".
The Forum for Discussion of Israel and Palestine is a group pushing a Zionist narrative, set up by an organization called "the Council of Christians and Jews". This is a long standing pro Israel grouping, which has overlapping personnel with FODIP, though they claim to be independent.
"Community Security Trust", a group that claims to combat anti semitism in the UK, but which purposely blurs together anti semitism and anti Zionism in pursuit of Israel's foreign policy objectives. Its charitable objectives include combating extremism; however, its founder the convicted fraudster, Gerald Monson, has a record of funding extremist Zionist groups, such as Chabad, through his family foundation.
It seems that bias in favor of the racist ideology of Zionism is regarded as acceptable in schools, whereas standing up for Palestinian rights is not.
CAGE found multiple cases where school kids have been punished, disciplined, or prohibited, even from the mildest display of solidarity with Palestine.
These include a school that banned the colors of the Palestinian flag, or any clothing resembling Middle Eastern clothes.
The student who was referred to PREVENT after emailing videos of Islamic lectures to his school to express his unhappiness at a one sided presentation on ISRAEL PALESTINE.
The students who were suspended for wearing a Palestine badge to school, or for discussing Palestine.
In response to the judge's decision on the letter from the Education Secretary CAGE released a summary of responses to a survey on the Ukraine. This shows that, just like the support for Zionism, most schools have been supporting the NATO proxy war in Ukraine.
With schools bedecked with Ukraine flags, and fundraisers openly supported by schools. Of course, the idea of raising money for Palestine is regarded as controversial and students are disciplined for raising the issue.
As always, we are joined by our resident expert David Miller. David is an academic and former professor at Bristol University and a leading British scholarly critic of Israel. He's also a co founder and co director of a lobbying watchdog '"Spin Watch".
We're also joined today by Fahad Ansari, who is a consultant in the immigration and public law departments at Duncan Lewis Solicitors. He has extensive experience in all aspects of asylum, immigration, and nationality law, as well as on terrorism and national security. He regularly writes about current affairs and frequently provides expert commentary on legal developments for numerous broadcast outlets, including the BBC, Sky News, CNN and Al-Jazeera.
What were the legal grounds upon which CAGE took this case to judicial review?
Three primary grounds that we argue that the letter that the then Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson sent to schools was unlawful.
The fact was that he had breached the Education Act by asking students to take a politically partisan view on a subject matter, namely the ISRAEL PALESTINE conflict. And specifically, he had asked schools or directed schools, not to work with, or use materials by, any external organizations that publicly rejected Israel's right to exist.
Now the right to exist, not a legal one, it's a political one that is used to justify Israel's creation and its current policies and practices. As such, there are two legitimate opinions on whether it does have a right to exist or whether it doesn't have the right to exist.
And while the government had its view on the matter, kids prohibited from, compelling schools to adopt that view, and teach that view, and what Gavin Williamson sought to do with his instruction for schools was to completely sideline one of those views as unacceptable.
So that breached the principle of political indoctrination in schools in each of the education acts. So that would be the first challenge.
The second ground was that it did not accept the views of Muslim students, and the Islamophobia that they have been subjected to, in the wake of the conflict, focusing only on the situation Jewish pupils who may have been subjected to anti semitism, and in doing so a discriminated against Muslim students.
And finally, we argue that while there was no duty on the education secretary to consult stakeholders, once he had done so with a stakeholder, he was under duty to conduct that exercise fairly, and involve other stakeholders and what seemed to have happened is he conducted a consultation with one specific group and nobody else.
Do the organizations that Gavin Williamson recommended should go into schools have a covert Zionist agenda, particularly "Solutions, Not Sides"?
Yes, it does. "Solutions, Not Sides" is a project which was set up by another organization called "One Voice", which is mentioned in the film, but which we've done quite a lot of research on.
It was set up a guy who's boasted that his activities were anti BDS before anyone even heard of BDS. So, this is a Zionist Organization aiming to pursue the state interests of Israel and using as cover the idea that we should have solutions in the conflict that there are not just sides that we should really try to focus on solutions, but what they mean by solutions is not having a solution to this.
This is pushing down the road, the idea of a two state solution, and all kinds of things are definitely not supporting the Palestinians and their just struggle for their full rights.
You obtained evidence of numerous inappropriate interventions in schools, like banning symbols and clothing to interfering in charitable fundraising, could you expound on that, please?
CAGE was approached by dozens of Muslim pupils, who had been reprimanded and sanctioned in a variety of ways by their schools and academies for engaging in Palestinian Solidarity; this ranged from verbal warnings to physical intervention such as seizing the flag or seizing their banners, taking their badges or serious sanctions, such as suspensions and expulsions, [sic] referred to Prevent and calling in the police to speak with the child in question.
Obviously, this is ludicrous where you have groups of children organically showing empathy towards people who are oppressed, on the other side of the world in full view of the international community and rather than schools welcoming this act of empathy, this act of solidarity.
The fact that students will need to be aware, they crack down on them with the intention that they would they would suppress that natural inclination to side with the oppressed against injustice.
The government's leveling up department is promoting, and seems to be funding, the forum for the discussion of Israel and Palestine; is that an issue?
Well, it's not just the question of this one organization, "Community Security Trust", but it's also the question of the other organizations we've been talking about, "One Voice" and "Solutions Not Sides", all three of these organizations.
"Solutions Not Sides"s was a project of "One Voice" and became notionally independent, it's still part of the same organization, and all of them have been funded to the tune of many thousands of pounds by the "Leveling Up Department" which used to be called the "Department of Communities" in the local government.
These are funded as part and parcel of their sort of counter extremism agenda. So you can see what's going on here is that there's an attempt to support pro Israel narratives, as if that is somehow against extremism and what they mean by extremism, of course, is those people who are opposed to UK Foreign Policy, not those who support aspects of it, including the illegal parts of it, including supporting, of course, Israel, and it's illegal activities in the occupied territories as detailed on numerous occasions by the United Nations.
So there's a push towards a particular kind of extremism, which is not thought of as extremism, which, of course, is Zionism. And there's an attempt to suggest that anyone who stands up for perfectly legitimate rights under international law for the Palestinians is somehow an extremist or is somehow supporting terrorism, which is, of course, ridiculous.
A peculiar state of affairs, with Israel in breach of international law, and somehow that's sort of beyond the pale, it seems to be an odd state of affairs, to say the least.
"Community Security Trust" was one of the three organizations promoted by Gavin Williamson; can you explain how this group appears to be involved in extremism?
Well, the "Community Security Trust" does not get money from the same pot as these other two organizations, but it does get money from the government, and way more money than the other two organizations put together, something like 14 million a year for its activities.
Now of course, it's an organization which deliberately blurs together anti-semitism, anti-Zionism, so that you can target the left, and indeed, Muslims in this country, with spying activities, passing information on to the security services, etc. But it’s engaged in extremism.
You saw a clip in the film there of Gerald Ronson, you probably couldn't have told from the clip but he's giving an address at a meeting, a national meeting, UK national meeting of Chabad-Lubavitch, which is an extremist Jewish sect, which is involved in, according to the Israeli intelligence agency, multiple revenge attacks on Palestinians in the territories, but yet has been supported by Joe Bronson, the fraudster, committed fraudster for, it says in the press, for more than four decades he's been supporting this extremist organization.
His organization, The CST, has in its charitable objectives that it will challenge, educate, about extremism. Well, it's not challenging and educating about it. It's in fact supporting that extremism.
So there we have a clear indication of the way in which it breaches its own charitable objectives by supporting an extremist organization, Ya'abad, which is involved in all sorts of appalling activities in Palestine.
Schools have been hypocritically banning Palestine as a topic on the grounds that it's too political, yet they're allowing support for the conflict in Ukraine. What is the justification for this?
And this is the double standard that is so blatant that every single child who was sanctioned for showing solidarity with Palestine raised the issue with their schools and is on the back of that CAGE actually began compiling information and data from these students as to how their schools operated visa vie the Ukraine situation, and then contrast that with how they behaved last year.
I think what's really interesting is the Solidarity with Palestine is very organic. It was not dictated to them by schools of anybody's interest and was a natural reaction that schools did not tolerate, and the government did not want to hear.
Yet when it came to the Ukraine, while [the] situations have parallels, schools and the government felt they needed to dictate to the pupils how to actually behave in the situation and that they should show solidarity, so students are encouraged to bring in Ukrainian flags, pupils were fundraising for Ukraine.
I remember one of the case studies that I came across where students were fundraising for Palestine; they were reprimanded because they were told you should be fundraising for both sides; for victims in Israel and Palestine. And I can imagine a student raised the fact that … we should be fundraising for Russia as well as Ukraine it would probably receive a sanction for that.
Well, let's pause there for a moment while we look at this report about schools staging events and activities in support of the conflict in Ukraine.
A survey by CAGE shows that 96% of British schools have proactively engaged with the calls to support for Ukraine. The figures are in stark contrast to the treatment of Palestine last year, where pupils and staff were treated punitively for attempting to express solidarity.
Eighty survey respondents mentioned schools promoting motifs of the Ukraine flag, such as encouraging children to wear blue and yellow for non uniform days, or hoisting the Ukraine flag on school grounds. The openness with [which] schools have expressed forceful solidarity with Ukraine belies the excuses that pupils, and parents, largely Muslim, were subjected to by schools last year to justify ignoring the war on Gaza.
Indeed, some respondents spoke of this disparity in explicit terms: "The school organized the collection for Ukraine, but we were unable to do the same for Palestine, as it was, "political" as it was due to religion. We asked to do an assembly or put posters up and fundraise for Palestine. And they said no, but they're doing it all for Ukraine".
But the CAGE research also uncovered two further worrying findings. The first is that the government has been encouraging teachers to use resources on disinformation via the website "Educate Against Hate".
One resource was titled "Be Internet Citizens", developed as collaboration between YouTube and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, ISD. The ISD is a strongly Zionist Organization, which has been heavily involved in counter extremism work and is funded by major NATO states and by "Regime Change" foundations.
The second finding is that some schools may have been directly encouraging support for armed violence in Ukraine, and actively involved in supporting Nazi-adjacent Ukrainian groups. A key instance has been support for the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, the AUGB, the largest representative group for Ukrainians in the country.
But the AUGB has direct and explicit links to the Ukrainian far right, stretching back to its inception. These include the ultra nationalist fascist organization, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the OUN, and its paramilitary organization, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the UPA, as well as regularly celebrating a notorious leader of the OUN Stepan Bandera.
These developments are a direct encouragement of far right, indeed, Nazi, ideology in British schools, encouraging a hostile environment for Muslim Palestinians and other people of colour.
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue sounds innocuous enough, doesn't it, can you explain what it is up to here?
Well, the ISD is really quite a large organization for a think tank. It was funded by founded by Lord Weidenfeld, who of course famously served in the first Israeli government back in the day and then came to Britain and has funded a huge number of Zionist think tanks and lobby groups over the years.
… The group continues to be strongly Zionist and the people in charge of it remain strongly Zionist and fund other key Zionist organizations. But it's also involved in doing work on disinformation. And what it means by disinformation is information which is critical of Western foreign policies.
And you can see the kind of strict connection there is between that and its work on Ukraine, or Russia. And its funders; It's funded by something like six or seven different NATO states, as well as by a whole range of regime change fundraisers, including the Soros foundations, and it's engaged [sic] has been pretty straightforwardly in propaganda whereby anyone who tells the truth about what's happening in Ukraine is actually just regurgitating Russian propaganda.
So it's itself a propaganda (mouthpiece) and it should have nothing to do with the Department for Education issues, It’s actually an active propaganda organization.
How do you view schools allowing support for Ukraine but vetoing kids mentioning Palestine?
There is definitely a double standard at play here between ISRAEL PALESTINE and Russia Ukraine conflict. Any child can see that, children stayed away with reports of children questioning their schools as to why they want a double standard.
When they were asked to bring in Ukrainian flags, they remembered what happened when they brought in Palestinian flags and they raised that with the schools, parents went to the schools as well.
David, tell us about this far right Ukrainian group that seems to be infiltrating some British schools.
Well, I mean, this was one of the extraordinary findings, I thought, of the CAGE researchers that some schools are actually going directly to this association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, in existence since 1946, seeming to have a very, very long history with the Ukrainian far right, you know, back to the time of Stepan Bandera, the hero of the Azov Battalians of today.
And so it's extraordinary to see that and see that there seems to be no due diligence that schools that have engaged in this new due diligence that actually actively engaging with Nazi and Nazi adjacent organizations and ideas in British schools, which must be against the law.
Secondly, also engaged as a result of that in building support for sending money to support the armed conflict directly, to support military equipment, which cannot be right. I mean, we certainly, imagine if people were doing the same thing, we should be raising money to buy military equipment for Hamas.
Of course, that that would be a completely different matter, actually, in terms of resistance to the Israeli occupation.
But we see this with Ukraine that there's literally no criticism of the idea that we might support, directly support, armed violence for schools, including primary schools, extraordinary.
Could you remind us very briefly about the atrocities that Stepan Bandera perpetrated?
Bandera was the leader of the Ukrainian nationalists, proto Nazis, who collaborated with the Germans when they occupied part of what was then Ukraine and was involved in pogroms against Jews and indeed, against Poles and travelers, gypsy travelers, as well.
At the time hundreds of thousands of people died. And these people were pursued by the Soviets until 1959. It wasn't until 1959 that they were eventually eliminated, and to use the phrase of today, denazified.
What do you think the government and the courts should be doing about these worrying trends?
The problem, I guess, is the government itself, I mean, the government has its own political position and that's, you know, let’s not be naive, that's not going to change in the short term, or possibly even the medium term. So as long as the government's got its agenda, it's going to try to propagate that as much as it can.
When it comes to schools, what it cannot do is forcing schools to adopt that position.
And we hope that through this litigation, that we made that clear and new guidance that was issued in the midst of the litigation offers a more nuanced approach, and specifically excludes from its example of extreme political positions that schools now engage with those organizations that publicly inject Israel's right to exist.