Edinburgh Rabbi calls on city council to combat racism in schools
A leading Jewish cleric has called on council chiefs to combat racist abuse in schools linked to global conflicts.
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Rabbi David Rose, of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation based at the synagogue on Salisbury Road, pledged to visit an Edinburgh school with an Imam after hearing of children being verbally abused due to conflicts in the Middle East.
Rabbi Rose says he wants to show school children an example of Muslim and Jewish cooperation after school children were verbally abused during a flare up of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Violence erupted in Palestine in May after the Supreme Court of Israel evicted six Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood which was effectively annexed by Israel in 1980 and is now part of the occupied Palestinian Territories.
Protests from Palestinian and Israeli groups soon escalated, and Israel was bombarded with rockets from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which over the course of eleven days of fighting killed 12 civilians.
Israel responded with air strikes, killing over a hundred civilians, including children, and displacing 72,000 Palestinians.
Now, Rabbi David Rose has said some school children of Jewish and Arabic heritage were targeted, and has called on Edinburgh City Council to ensure pupils feel safe and to teach them about international issues and conflicts ‘in an objective, balanced and sensitive manner, taking into account the background of all pupils in the school, including ethnicity, religion, and possible connections with people in the relevant area of conflict’.
Appearing before the council’s education committee, Rabbi Rose presented a motion which reads: “The Education, Children and Families Committee agrees to note the following:
“Schools should ensure that all pupils are enabled to feel safe, irrespective of their ethnic, religious or national origin.
“No pupil should be targeted or negatively singled out for any reason, including in consequence of international events or conflicts.
“Schools should ensure that some pupils’ desire for political expression is not the cause of other pupils feeling targeted or unsafe.
“International issues, especially involving areas of conflict, must be taught in an objective, balanced and sensitive manner, taking into account the background of all pupils in the school, including ethnicity, religion, and possible connections with people in the relevant area of conflict.”
Rabbi Rose said children had been verbally attacked in at least one Edinburgh school.
He added: “The background to this is the events in May and June that were the consequence of the fighting and conflict in the Middle East.
“The verbal, and possibly other attacks, on children in at least one school in Edinburgh – there were many more in Glasgow.
“It was also felt that schools, at least relation to the pupils concerned, did not deal with it in an entirely correct manner – I won’t mention the school, it doesn’t matter, but hopefully myself and an Imam will be going into that school to show Jewish and Muslim cooperation.
“I think it goes far wider, the impact of overseas events on our children.
“We have a very diverse school population – it has particularly affected Muslim students.
Councillors were unanimously supportive of the motion, and passed it with no dissent.