Israel’s tentacles choke schoolchildren’s right to free speech at Bannockburn (of all places!)
What would Robert the Bruce have said?
by Stu Littlewood, …for Veterans Today
Scotland’s media report that an item about the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom from brutal Israeli occupation, which formed part of an exhibition by schoolchildren at the Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre in Stirling, has been taken down after being branded “highly offensive” and “historically inaccurate”.
The accusation came from the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council. The pupils’ exhibition, organised by the charity Children in Scotland, looks at the theme of protest. The National Trust for Scotland (NTS), which manages the visitor centre, said:
“The Trust prides itself on its political neutrality and clearly more judgment should have been exercised in this case. We’re sorry for any concern caused.”
Amy Woodhouse, of Children in Scotland, said:
“We understand the content of the exhibit on Palestine, and the way the topic was framed, has caused hurt and anger among some audiences. We apologise for this.”
GJRC president Paul Edlin said:
“The National Trust for Scotland has apologised and taken down this highly offensive and historically inaccurate material. However, we still want to know how this happened.”
The exhibition reflected the involvement of young people generally in current protest movements and included views on Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and Palestine. Only the materials on Palestine were removed.
Pro-Israel complainers objected to wording that “Israel had pushed out Arabic communities from their homes by force” and “Israel has continued to impose institutionalised discrimination against Palestinians living in Israel”.
Here is the text of the childrens’ display that was taken down.
“Protests gathered around the world in support of Palestinians during a flareup in violence between Israel and Gaza. Israeli warplanes bombarded Gaza city, killing many Palestinian civilians.
“Israel and Palestine have been embroiled in conflict on-and-off since the early twentieth century. The land which Israel inhabits was formally Palestine, ruled over by the British following the First World War. It was mostly inhabited by an Arabic population of Palestinians. However, during the twentieth century and culminating after the Second World War, increasing volumes of Jewish immigrants settled in Palestine and built communities – this was due to the Zionist desire for the Jewish people to have their own homeland near the Holy Land of Jerusalem.
“By 1947 the UN agreed to partition Palestine into two countries – one for the Jewish people and one for the Palestinian Arabs. However, almost immediately after Israel became a nation (1948) they took more land than had been agreed by the UN and pushed out Arabic communities from their homes by force. In the decades since, Palestine has lost more and more land, causing a massive refugee crisis across the region and many Palestinians losing their lives. Israel has continued to impose institutionalised discrimination against Palestinians living under its rule in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and has maintained its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, subjecting its residents to collective punishment and deepening the humanitarian crisis there.
“Traditionally, Israel has been supported by western governments but recently the tide for public sympathy internationally is swelling for Palestinian communities, shown through these protests.”
What exactly is “highly offensive” or “historically inaccurate” about that? As usual the moaners don’t explain.
Gone are the days when intelligent people automatically believe the Israeli narrative and its Zio-propaganda. Events are sufficiently well documented to reveal the truth.
And research by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published by the Oxford University Press in 2012, concluded that only a tiny percentage of Jews in Israel, most of whom flooded into the Holy Land from Eastern Europe intending to kick the Palestinians out, have biblical or ancestral connection to Old Israel. This makes their repeated claim that “the land from the river (Jordan) to the sea” is theirs, all theirs, even more preposterous.
And anyone still in doubt about the racist nature of the Israel project needs only to look at the Nation-State Law passed by the Knesset in 2018. Israeli minister Yariv Levin, a former Speaker of the Knesset, called it “Zionism’s flagship bill”.
A century of betrayal, wanton destruction and sheer nastiness… played out in the Holy Land
It’s a complicated story – a story of misplaced favouritism, lawlessness, international cowardice and the extraordinary gullibility of the high-minded and powerful – and here’s a slimmed-down version.
During World War 1 there was much manoeuvring with the Zionists to bring the US into the conflict and promises were made, as a result of which Arthur Balfour, British foreign secretary in 1917, penned a letter to the most senior Jew in England, Lord Rothschild, pledging the Government’s “best endeavours” to facilitate the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
Balfour also wrote: “We do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.”
This amounted to a betrayal of our Arab allies and many in Parliament objected, including Lord Sydenham who remarked:
“What we have done, by concessions not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend.”
Balfour was a Zionist convert (as were many others in the corridors of power including prime minister David Lloyd-George) and he occupied a useful position. The Zionists delivered, and the US entered the war. In November 1917 Balfour handed the Zionists their prize – his infamous Declaration – even though Palestine was not, and never could be, Britain’s to give away.
At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 when the Great Powers carved up the territorial spoils of war a Zionist delegation produced the promissory note from Balfour and Britain accepted the mandate responsibility for Palestine. Eventually, in 1947, the Great Powers pushed the United Nations into partitioning the territory, again without consulting those who lived there.
Balfour had inserted into his Declaration that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing and non-Jewish communities….” on the insistence of the only Jew in the British Cabinet, Lord Montague, who was anti-Zionist and opposed the deal. But this safeguard was jettisoned as soon as Britain lost control of events.
In the wake of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which allocated the Jews territory within defined borders, they declared statehood on 14 May 1948 without borders, grabbing as much extra land as they could at gunpoint and ignoring all boundaries.
Their ‘Plan Dalet’ offensive, begun beforehand, seized strategic Arab-designated land by armed terror and ethnic cleansing. Jewish militia – the Irgun, Haganah, Palmach and Lehi – raided towns and villages forcing the Arab inhabitants to flee. Numerous atrocities were committed including the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem (headquarters of the British administration) in 1946 murdering 91, and the massacres at Deir Yassin and Lydda in 1948.
On 4 March 1949 the Security Council agreed to admit Israel to UN membership on condition it honoured the terms of the UN Charter and implemented UN General Assembly Resolutions 181 (the Partition Plan) and 194 (concerning, among other things, the status of Jerusalem which had been designated a corpus separatum, and the return of Palestinian refugees).
Article 11 of 194 states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”
This was based on recommendations by the UN Mediator for Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, who was afterwards murdered by Jewish para-militaries for upsetting their plans for domination.
In a cabinet meeting in June 1948 Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion stated:
“They [the Palestinians] lost and fled. Their return must now be prevented…. And I will oppose their return also after the war.” His words were echoed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir who in 1992 declared that the return of the Palestinian refugees “will never happen in any way, shape or form. There is only a Jewish right of return to the land of Israel.”
Israel never had any intention of carrying out its obligations under 181 and 194, and to this day repeatedly violates provisions and principles of the UN Charter.
How legitimate is the state of Israel?
Israel and its supporters are fond of accusing anyone who criticises Israel’s misconduct as “delegitimizing Israel”, in other words denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist. But Israel, from the start, has done a splendid job of de-legitimising itself.
And all along, the Israelis have been de-legitimising the Palestinians by annexing their lands, stealing their resources, destroying their homes and denying them their right to self-determination and freedom of movement.
Throughout Palestine, now under Israeli military occupation, there is a 3-class system: Jews, who enjoy all the rights; Type A Arabs who have some rights; and Type B Arabs who have practically no rights at all. That is the reality, and it is rabid apartheid.
The International Criminal Court defines apartheid as a “crime against humanity”. And in recent reports the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem concludes that Israel is an apartheid state denying basic human rights to millions of Palestinians, and Human Rights Watch also concludes that Israel is an apartheid state.
Let’s not forget the assassinations and extra-judicial executions. Assassination became official Israeli policy in 2000 although some experts say it was initiated by the Zionists as far back as 1944.
Their preferred method is the air-strike, which is lazy and often messy, as demonstrated in 2002 when Israeli F-16 warplanes bombed the house of Sheikh Salah Shehadeh, the military commander of Hamas, in Gaza City killing not just him but at least 11 other Palestinians including seven children, and wounding 120 others. Since then B’Tselem has listed numerous Palestinians who have been eliminated in targeted killings.
Aren’t children allowed to speak freely?
Back to the surrender at Bannockburn…. The site and its heritage centre, managed by The National Trust for Scotland, play an educational role and, as the NTS surely knows, the European Convention on Human Rights provides for freedom of expression which applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb.
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights says that everyone has the right to freedom of expression including “without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”. And Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says much the same thing, subject of course to the usual limitations required by law and respect for the rights of others.
Are schoolchildren denied these rights to free speech?
So the authorities, once again, are apologising to the wrong people. The NTS, if it means what it says that “clearly more judgement should have been exercised in this case”, ought to say a big ‘SORRY’ to the kids they punished for telling the truth.
Robert the Bruce, who sent the English intruder packing at Bannockburn in 1314 in the first Scottish War of Independence, will be spinning in his grave if he hears about the abject surrender on his hallowed battlefield by the National Trust for Scotland to such pitiful complaints aimed at brave and honest children.
Members of the NTS might consider a protest of their own and tell management that if it doesn’t do the right thing here they’ll switch their membership to the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (which provides free access to NTS properties).
I have just done that.
19 September 2021
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics, he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. An Associate of the Royal Photographic Society, he has produced two photo-documentary books which can be read online at Radiofreepalestine.org.uk and Paperturn-view.com