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Pupil disciplined by public school after trying to force Jewish boy to eat ham pizza

Clifton College in Bristol says antisemitism in any guise is 'abhorrent' and will not be tolerated

    Jewish pupils at Clifton holding a service
    Jewish pupils at Clifton holding a service

    Clifton College in Bristol has stood by its handling of an incident where pupils tried to force a Jewish boy to eat a piece of pizza containing ham.

    Although the victim had not considered it an act of antisemitism, the school treated it as such.

    According to The Times, a pupil received a short suspension from the fee-paying college as a punishment.

    But the paper reported that an unnamed “leading figure” of the local Jewish community was critical of the school for not taking tougher action.

    Although the incident took place at the end of last term, news of it emerged only last week.

    In a statement, the school said: “Antisemitism in any guise is abhorrent, pernicious and is absolutely not tolerated at Clifton College, which enjoys a deep and longstanding connection with the Jewish community”.

    Jewish students had attended Clifton since 1879 and were “an integral and valued part” of the school, it said.

    After a thorough investigation, “proportionate and appropriate sanctions were put in place”, the school said.  

    “We take every opportunity to educate our pupils about the importance of kindness, tolerance and the potentially devastating effects of prejudice.”

    Although its Jewish boarding house closed in 2005, the Polacks Centre at the college continues to offer Jewish facilities. There are around 30 Jewish pupils currently at the school.

    Jeremy Jacob, a parent of a Jewish pupil at Clifton, said he was “completely satisfied the school handled the incident appropriately.

    “Clifton College has a long and distinguished history of welcoming pupils of all backgrounds and creating a safe environment in which they thrive. I confidently say this as a former head of the Jewish house and father of a current pupil.”

    In a post on The Times’ website, Stephen Kurer, a former Jewish head of school and chairman of the Old Cliftonian branch in Israel, wrote: “It would be hard to find any school anywhere that has been more accommodating to Jewish students throughout its history”.

    The Israel branch had recently hosted Clifton’s headteacher and his family, who had visited Yad Vashem.

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