Schools should start from human rights.

gavin williamson doubleWe were concerned to see  the Department for Education telling schools to talk about the Israel/Palestine conflict with the help of one-sided organisations and without commitment to human rights. We have written an open letter to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State: see picture.

Text of our letter:

Dear Gavin Williamson

Starting with human rights.    –  OPEN LETTER

This letter is a response to your recent letter to schools and their approaches to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

We should fight against racism, we should fight against apartheid, we should fight against murder, we should fight for human rights. To do this we need honesty, open-mindedness and critical thinking in our young people.

We are very concerned that of the three organisations you promote in your recent letter to schools, the first (Solutions Not Sides) gives false equivalences with a sweet face, suggesting a “balance” where there is none , the second (Community Security Trust) is known as a security (not an educational) organisation which takes one side in the conflict and the third (Forum for Discussion on the Israel/Palestine Conflict), from its website, also appears to be partisan. Our children deserve much better than that: your one-sided approach is open to accusations of state brainwashing.

In the light of the “British values” that your government asks schools to promote (democracy/ the rule of law /individual liberty /mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and for those without faith), you are surely not going to demand that schools demonstrate an equal balance between holding / not-upholding international law, for example?

Mr Williamson, schools do not have an obligation to balance anti-racist perspectives with racist perspectives, anti-apartheid perspectives with pro-apartheid perspectives or upholding human rights with the violation of them.

The only way we will avoid more and more waves of murder and despair in Israel/ Palestine is to encourage our children as well as our politicians to look at the situation with a genuinely anti-racist eye.  Human rights are the right place for schools to start. None of the organisations you promote takes this approach and we ask that you urgently revise or withdraw your advice.


Linking Together 4 Human Rights



  1. CADFA is a human rights charity that has been working with teachers and students in the UK and Palestine for nearly eighteen years, running exchanges in both directions, taking hundreds of people in each direction to learn about each other’s lives, building international links and respect for human rights.
  1. This letter is a response to the following (and a copy of his letter)

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