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Keep Hate Speech out of UK Schools

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The organisation “Speakers Trust” does fine work teaching young people how to express themselves and speak in public.

However one speaker from Wanstead High School, chosen as the regional winner from Redbridge Borough in London, chose to talk about the Israeli Arab conflict.

We applaud the decision of Speakers Trust to stop the speech of Leanne Muhammad going through to the Final of the Petchey Speakout Challenge.

We ask the Speakers Trust will stand firm against the pressure being put on it to change its decision. Leanne's speech was full of untruths about Israel and will fuel antisemitism (Jew hatred).

We ask the school to make sure they’re presenting a balanced case, based on truth, to their pupils on this subject.

Leanne claimed Palestinian children are “woken every morning by bombs” and “Every day their homes, schools and hospitals are destroyed, they’re left with nothing”

Not true. Israel has been forced into Gaza three times since it unilaterally withdrew all forces. These incursion were to stop indiscriminate rocket fire targeting Israeli civilians. Colonel Richard Kemp (former Commander British Forces Afghanistan) has called the IDF “the most moral Army in the world” because of unprecedented care it takes not to harm civilians.

During the last close quarter combat in Gaza the IDF killed fewer civilians than armed combatants, something no other army has ever achieved in urban warfare when the terrorist adversary is trying to maximise death among its own civilians including such brutality as ordering civilians to remain in areas they have been warned to vacate by the IDF.

Leanne said “If for 68 years they bombarded your land, took away your human rights and killed your families and children, how would you react?”

Simply not true. It is Hamas and their own leaders who have deprived Palestinians of human rights. In the face of their continued belligerence, Israel has tried to improve their living conditions. Leanne’s statement, phrased as a rhetorical question, seems to imply a justification for the acts of terrorism committed by Arab terrorists for decades.

Leanne said “This aggression this oppression this injustice it has been going on for over half a century. Since 1948 more than 30,000 innocent Palestinian children have been killed.”

This is a modern blood libel. Israel is meticulous in minimising civilian casualties. It is Hamas that threatens children’s lives by siting its weapons depots near their homes and using them as human shields. After the last defensive operation in Gaza, even Amnesty International admitted that Hamas’s attempts to kill Israeli civilians directly resulted in the death of children in Gaza when their rockets fell short:

Amnesty: “Six civilians in Israel, including a four-year-old boy, were killed in such attacks during the 50-day conflict. In the deadliest incident believed to have been caused by a Palestinian attack, 11 children were among 13 Palestinian civilians killed when a projectile fired from within the Gaza Strip landed in the al-Shati refugee camp.”

The figure of 30,000 is a massive exaggeration. It is a pure lie. It also misses enormous context: 

  • When Palestinian children die under IDF fire it was NEVER the intention.
  • When Jewish children are murdered at the hands of Palestinian terrorists it was the intention.

Leanne said “1 in 3 of the world’s refugees are Palestinian”

Highly Deceptive. At the end of 2014 the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counted 14.4m genuine refugees. The separate UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) recorded, by a completely different definition which uniquely, counts all who claim to be descended from genuine refugees, at 5.1m. Palestinians are the only “refugees” where the grandchildren and great grandchildren of around 750,000 people displaced in 1948 are still defined by UNWRA as “refugees”.

Leanne said “A Palestinian boy suffering from a severe heart disease yet not being offered the correct medical care because he is Palestinian”.

She failed to give the boy's name so the story cannot be checked. This is a blood libel. When it comes to children with heart disease, Israel does not discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish children:

‘Save A Child's Heart’ does not discriminate!

And how about the omissions in Leanne's speech?

Nothing about Hamas which fires rockets, digs tunnels into Israel with the intention of killing and kidnapping Israelis. And Hamas threatens Palestinians too - no freedom for Christians, oppression of women, gays - and no democracy - Hamas won a local election jointly with the PLO then ruthlessly overthrew the PLO in a military coup in Gaza.

Nothing about the relentless incitement to hate put out by the Palestinian Authority which teaches children from kindergarten up that they must not rest until all Jews are expelled from Israel, and denies any connection of Jews to their indigenous home.

Under the Education Act Wanstead High School has a duty to discuss political subjects objectively without any bias. Leanne's speech suggests that it has demonstrably failed.


Sir Jack Petchey
Founder, Jack Petchey Foundation

Julie Holness
CEO Speakers Trust

Sheila Bain
Councillor, Cabinet member for Education, Redbridge

Bob Hamlyn
Head teacher, Wanstead High School

Trudy Kilcullen
CEO Jack Petchey Foundation

Sir Eric Pickles
UK Envoy on Post-Holocaust Issues

Wes Streeting MP
Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

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