UK school homework asks students to describe ‘Palestinian terrorism’

UK school homework asks students to describe ‘Palestinian terrorism’
3 min read
06 March, 2015
The worksheet, for 10-12 year old students, was prepared 15 years ago and was not questioned until recently.
'You asked what?' [File photo, Getty]

The battle between pro and anti-Israeli activists over public opinion in the UK has spilled over to school curriculae, with the revelation that a homework assignment from a school in Scotland’s North Lanarkshire region implied that Palestinians are terrorists.

The worksheet, for 10-12 year-old P7 pupils, asks the students to describe why Palestinians feel they can use terrorism. The question, given to pupils as part of a New Stevenston Primary School homework assignment stated that:

     Describe TWO examples of Palestinian terrorist activities.

- New Stevenston Primary School homework assignment

“Palestinians feel they have the RIGHT to use terrorism against the Israelis.
Give TWO reasons why they feel this. Use the information to help you.
Describe TWO examples of Palestinian terrorist activities.”

The homework also described Palestinians as "separatist terrorists", and went on to mention incidents like the PLO operation at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, launched by against Israeli athletes.

The school has since apologised, after initially refusing to make any comment on this issue, referring instead questions to the North Lancashire council, which is responsible for the textbooks.

A spokesperson for the council said these educational worksheets were prepared 15 years ago by the Council's educational department and were distributed to all 120 schools in the area. He added that it was an isolated case and the council would carry out an internal investigation into the matter. The worksheet in question would no longer be used.

A well-informed source in the North Lancashire council added that those who wrote the worksheets were no longer working with the council.

Kelly Crychkons of the central Education Scotland Media office said the body had no influence on individual schools’ curriculae, and they would not be aware of such a matter.

The spokesperson added that no action would be taken on this matter.

“Education Scotland has jurisdiction in schools in terms of resource support and inspection. However, we can’t be aware of every single case, incident or subject, we can’t police all this. This is the task of teachers and head teachers,” Crychkons added.

But the issue is linked to the struggle over public perceptions of Palestinians and Israelis in the UK.

Last year, the Jewish Teachers' Association in the UK issued guidance for Jewish teachers in the UK on how to deal with the "Gaza-Israel" conflict. The document suggested methods for dealing with students of different backgrounds, and suggested key Israeli news outlets for further information such as Ha'aretz, the Times of Israel and also the Embassy of Israel in the UK.

And in the UK parliament, the Labour Friends of Israel lobbying group last month released a publication on Gaza that effectively urged disarmament for development, suggesting that international aid efforts to the impoverished strip of land should be made contingent on Hamas and other factions disarming or being disarmed.

It made no reference to Israel's obligations under international law as an occupying power. It was, in the words of journalist and author Ben White elsewhere in these pages a "microcosm of a key part of Israel’s propaganda efforts".