Antisemitism concerns lead to call for activism to be left outside classrooms

Antisemitism concerns lead to call for activism to be left outside classrooms Photo: Chai Brady

Schools in Ireland must be “a safe space for children of all religions” but this is not the case if students are given a “one-sided narrative” about the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East, the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland (JRS) has said.

The statement comes following antisemitism concerns of Jewish parents, who allege their children are being marginalised by a pro-Palestinian bias, being levelled at multi-denominational school group Educate Together.

The Irish Independent reported this week on growing tensions beginning earlier this year when Educate Together’s chief executive, Dr Emer Nowlan publicised her attendance at a pro-Palestinian march in Dublin on social media. It was later clarified she attended in a “personal capacity”.

Tensions increased following the revelation two Educate Together schools are putting forward a motion to declare Israel an apartheid state, and adopt a BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) position against Israel which will be voted on at their AGM next month.

Chairman of the JRS, Maurice Cohen said that  the council “is extremely concerned that all schools in Ireland must be a safe space for all children of all religions, races and ethnicities. This is not the case when many schools are giving a one-sided narrative to their pupils regarding the current and ongoing conflict in the Middle East”.

Mr Cohen said: “I expect that Educate Together will find the necessary means to either stop this motion or defeat it overwhelmingly. I further expect that Educate Together and other schools will find ways to encourage all those connected with schools, especially their staff, especially their teachers, to leave their activism outside of the classroom and to be totally apolitical in their dealings with all children.”

He added: “Anyone who is not fully informed of the very complex situation in the Middle East and engages in activism, in what is just tantamount to virtue signalling for their own good, runs the risk of being a highly antisemitic person.”