Protests are very much part of the fabric of South Africa. Globally we have seen huge contestation across campuses and some major cities around the world. Protesting and the ethics around protesting raises pertinent political and ethical question.
Last Thursday during a ceremony at the Jewish community school, Herzlia Middle School in Cape Town, two learners knelt and 'took the knee' in protest during the playing of Hatikvah, the Israeli National Anthem. The event was a graduation ceremony for grade nine learners.
Following the ceremony and the learners’ protest, an email was sent by the school’s Director of Education Geoff Cohen, to all parents. The students are now facing a disciplinary hearing.
The problem we felt as students is that, we were being forced to stand and sing for an anthem that went against our principles and our beliefs. We felt standing there would be a sign of support for the Israeli anthem. We couldn't stand because we are not in support of what is currently happening in Israel.— Herzlia Middle School student
The view of schools that students should refrain from political topics is very problematic. We should allow students to be politically engaged and be able to express political views. We can't have students who can't think for themselves and who are not in favour of debate and critical discussions.— Ilan Price – Phd Candidate at Oxford University
We have tried to reach the South African Jewish Board of Deputies for comment, but they declined our invite.
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This article first appeared on 702 : [LISTEN] Herzlia school protest during Israeli national anthem debated