NUT's condoning of Nakba propaganda

May 19, 2016 11:22

Last Saturday, a conference organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign was held at the central London headquarters of the National Union of Teachers.

As someone who reports on these kinds of events, I thought I would go along. And something truly disturbing happened: I was thrown out.

I made it until after lunch, when two of the PSC organisers asked me to leave. I did protest, as I couldn't fathom why my presence was such an issue. I never cause trouble and they know it.

I was told it was a private party. I was told I was not welcome. I reminded them it was a publicly advertised event that placed no condition on entry. I told them I had already paid and had been allowed in. It made no difference. My day there was done.

The conference was called Nakba: Then and Now, marking the 68th anniversary of what Palestinians call the "catastrophe" of the founding of the state of Israel. According to the PSC website, it was "supported by the NUT".

The programme involved a couple of panels, a few speakers and four workshops, one of them on BDS.

The first speaker was the new PSC chair, Sarah Apps, who talked of the demolition of Arab homes inside Israel. It is worth remembering that more people inside the London borough of Barnet have lost their homes to compulsory purchase orders, than Israel's Arabs have to the same type of governmental planning.

Ms Apps introduced ex NUT president, Philippa Harvey, who was there to speak "on behalf" of the union.

She described a new project called "Beyond the Wall" which intends to engage UK schools in learning about schooling in conflict zones. The main vehicles for the project are the films, which illustrate the daily struggles experienced by Palestinian children as they try to gain an education. Or in other words, inject raw Palestinian propaganda into our education system.

Ms Harvey went on to explain how UK children need to be introduced to the testimony of a child in Hebron whose right to education is "severely impaired".

Except of course we know it isn't true. As a 2014 report in the Penn Political Review put it: "Palestine's [school] enrolment rate was comparable with those of highly developed countries, such as the United States… The UN's education index reflected Palestine's achievement with an index of 0.88, ranking it the best in the Arab world."

There are probably more than 100 countries where children do not have the access to education that the children in Hebron do, this despite the conflict.

The entire exercise therefore is about demonisation. And the NUT is "really proud" of this work.

Other speakers included Soas professor Nur Masalha who claimed Zionists had developed a plan by the mid-1930s to expel the Arabs from Palestine. He accused the Jews of appropriating Palestinian history and spoke of Palestine existing as a "country" for millennia.

Prof Masalha turned his attention to Arab "resistance", maintaining that Palestinians "knew how to resist". He cited the uprising of the 1930s, and suggested that the Arabs had a right to "fight back". That he chose the 1936-1939 revolt is instructive. The Palestinians were not fighting back against violence but against rising immigration. Specifically, Jews fleeing the Nazis.

To qualify, he said: "I am not ruling out any form of struggle for Palestine, this way or another. It is for the people to decide." That comment includes them all, the bus bombs, the indiscriminate stabbings, the attacks against the schools. Any terror attack, however horrific, is not to be ruled out. It is for "the people to decide".

What is the NUT doing promoting, sponsoring and hosting an event that demonised Jews, rejected Jewish history, and gave a platform to those that condone acts of violence?

So, NUT, I was thrown out after hearing terrorist-supporting garbage loudly applauded inside your headquarters. I deserve a response and an apology.

● In a statement to Mr Collier, an NUT spokesperson said: "Whilst the meeting was held at NUT HQ and supported by the NUT, it was not organised by the NUT but by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. We have been in touch with the PSC and enquired about Mr Collier’s concerns. In its response the PSC say the following:

"We became aware of Mr Collier’s attendance when he started filming without permission to do so. He was politely asked to leave and agreed to do so. The conversation remained civil at all times and after being given a refund for his entry fee, Mr Collier left voluntarily. Mr Collier’s email and blog completely misrepresent the event and its content, and the circumstances around his leaving the event.

"The NUT would like to emphasise that it is extremely proud of its anti-racist work. We have policy to challenge anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of racism and discrimination."

May 19, 2016 11:22

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