UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

American School in London under fire over “pro-Hamas” social media posts by students

Children at the elite American School in London have been circulating posts on Instagram that might appear to support the Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel and committed barbarous murders of hundreds of Israelis.

Some parents are extremely concerned that their children have seen social media posts by their classmates which appear to glorify Hamas and their barbaric acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens. Other posts seem designed to cause distress and extreme offence to Jewish students.

Some of the parents raised their concerns with the school. Earlier this week the headmaster wrote a letter to parents which talked about "treating each other with compassion and empathy" but did not condemn the social media posts. Some parents felt this did not go far enough to address the issue.

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) has now written to the headteacher, setting out their view that the posts are illegal and urging him to act.

One post states: “Israelis felt like Palestinians for a day and apparently they didn’t like it”. UKLFI consider this implies that Israelis, like the Hamas terrorists, have deliberately targeted, murdering and raped Palestinian civilians in a manner similar to the barbaric actions of the Hamas terrorists.   This kind of statement is likely to promote hatred of Jews and of Israel.

UKLFI’s letter argues that posting this on Instagram is a criminal offence under section 127 of Communications Act 2003, since it is a grossly offensive message sent by the public electronic communications network, and also under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act, since it is grossly offensive and one of its purposes is to cause distress and anxiety.  

Another Instagram post says, above a picture of the Dome of the Rock, “Oh Allah, help and grant victory to our brothers and sisters in Palestine”. 

When read in context of the current war between Israel and Hamas, this is support for a Hamas victory. 

UKLFI contends that this would be an offence under Section 12(1A) of the Terrorist Act 2000 because it is an expression of opinion that is supportive of a proscribed organisation, and is reckless as to whether the readers of the post will be encouraged to support a proscribed organisation.

Caroline Turner, a director at UK Lawyers for Israel, said: "Parents are rightly shocked that their children are faced with grossly offensive social media posts from their classmates following these terrible events. The school needs to act and make clear to its students that such posts are not only potentially illegal but also extremely insensitive and upsetting to others."

Matt Horvatt, head of school at the Americal School in London responded by saying: " The School is already aware of these posts, has taken appropriate steps to safeguard the pupils in its care and is liaising with the relevant statutory agencies.  The School will apply its usual disciplinary processes to manage the behavior of children, as appropriate. This is of course an internal matter for the School.  The safety and wellbeing of all our community is our priority, and we expect everyone to be sensitive to the diversity of our community, be respectful of others and act with compassion and kindness as our mission and values state." 

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 269 other subscribers