The Board of Deputies has accused the Palestine Solidarity Campaign of including “antisemitic” cartoons in material produced for schools.
Two cartoons, with images of a crucified Jesus to depict Palestinian suffering at Israel’s hands, appear in the PSC’s online educational resources.
They were cited by the Board and the Community Security Trust in a submission to a government inquiry on preventing racism in schools.
“The cartoons renew the classic antisemitic myth that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, by conflating the crucifixion with the collective experience of the Palestinians,” they stated.
But Betty Hunter, PSC general secretary, said she was “shocked” that the Board was taking up this matter. She said: “The two cartoons are being taken out of context — they are in a series of ten cartoons which are part of a lesson discussing the issue of Palestinian refugees.”
She added: “Throughout the detailed lesson plan and teachers’ notes, there is great care taken to distinguish between the Jewish religion and the actions of the Israeli state.”
In their submission to the inquiry, the Board and CST said that there were 48 incidents of antisemitism involving pupils or schools in the first six months of 2009, compared with 29 over the same period the previous year.
“Inappropriate” references to the Israel-Palestine conflict in the classroom contributed to an environment in which “Jewish pupils and teachers have been made to feel extremely vulnerable”.
Occasionally, teachers had turned to Jewish pupils to defend the actions of the Israeli government. “Even when a direct challenge is not issued, Jewish pupils understandably feel intimidated by a one-sided vilification of Israel.”
Mark Frazer, public affairs officer of the Board’s defence division, said that a contributing factor to antisemitism was clearly the “overtly political material from groups who make no secret of their vehemently anti-Israel bias.
“It is entirely wrong that such partisan sources should be allowed into our schools, and the pernicious effects of so doing are apparent, as Jewish pupils feel threatened and victimised.”