Scottish media are reporting that the National Trust for Scotland has closed an exhibit at the The Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre of work by young people expressing sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people. NTS censorship of the testimonies is reported to have been based on some complaints against the airing of views supportive of the Palestinian people. These complaints aim to silence views opposed to the actions and policies of the State of Israel. The censorship came from NTS HQ in Edinburgh and not staff at the Bannockburn centre.
If this is true it is extremely disturbing that young people (and others) expressing their views on a matter of justice and opposition to human rights abuses have been told that they should not have done so. The exhibition dealt with 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.
It is essential that NTS supports the children's freedom of expression or specify the content that led to the removal of their work; otherwise the message to all of us is that any discussion of Palestinian human rights is in danger of being attacked and censored.
Has the NTS caved in to pressure from groups using vexatious complaints to smear and silence critics of the Israeli state? This can not be allowed to stand.
The pro-Israel complainers objected to well-attested points that "Israel had pushed out Arabic communities from their homes by force" and "has continued to impose institutionalised discrimination against Palestinians living in Israel".
We have recently seen major Israeli human rights group, BT’Selem, issue a report demonstrating that Israel is an apartheid state denying basic human rights to millions of Palestinians. Human Rights Watch reached the same conclusion a few weeks later. Four years earlier a key UN body, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) concluded that Israel had established an apartheid regime. The International Criminal Court defines apartheid as a "crime against humanity".
The ICC has opened an investigation into Israeli war crimes, a result Amnesty International has urged for many years. Israel is refusing to cooperate with the Court. Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen: “The shocking truth is that Israeli soldiers kill civilians in Gaza with near-total impunity, week in week out.” Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s researcher in Israel, "Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality, subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford." Amnesty blamed the Israeli government and said Israeli soldiers often destroyed locally built wells.
NTS may not have heard of a self-explanatory report from Defence of Children International, Palestinian Child Prisoners: The systematic and institutionalised ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities.
The school-children who expressed sympathy for their Palestinian counterparts need to be encouraged and praised rather than have their efforts condemned.
We call on NTS to restore the exhibit without delay.
--->>> Send a letter to NTS
The "offending" text that the NTS removed - what an outrage
Palestine Text by Emily
"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."
Read a letter sent to the NTS from Palestinian civil society organisations: