UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Hospital displays divisive and discriminatory artwork

Patients have complained about a display in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital which regards “Palestine” as covering the entirety of Israel and displays the Temple Mount with a huge Palestinian Flag. UKLFI has written to the hospital to ask them to remove the exhibition, pointing out they may be in breach of the Equality Act and of their own anti-discrimination policies.


The display is of decorated plates, along with their original designs and explanations about their significance.   The designs were said to have been created by children at two UNRWA schools in Gaza: the Beit Lahia Girls’ School and the Jabalia Prep Boys’ A School. However, the drawings all appear to be professional artwork, in the same style, and carried out by the same person.

The designs were transferred onto the plates by children at the Chelsea Community Hospital school. The display is entitled “Crossing Borders – a festival of Plates” and situated by the entrance to the children’s outpatients’ department.

The explanation for one plate says: “Fishing with nets is one of the oldest industries in Palestine. The shoreline stretches for 224 km from Rafah in the south to Ra’as al Naqoura in the North.” Ra’as al Naqoura is the Arabic name for Rosh HaNikra, an international border crossing between Israel and Lebanon in the North. Rafah is the border town with Egypt, in the South of Gaza. Thus the existence of Israel is denied and “Palestine” is regarded as covering the entirety of Israel.

Another description of a plate says: “The olive branch is the symbol of peace and is used to express the wish for an independent Palestinian state”. However, the picture on the plate accompanying the text shows the Dome of the Rock with a large Palestinian flag, implying that Jerusalem and in particular the site of what had been the Jewish Temple, would be part of a Palestinian state. The Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism and it is offensive for many Jewish people to see a Palestinian flag over their holiest site.

Jewish patients have approached UKLFI for help, saying that they feel vulnerable, harassed and victimised by this display. UKLFI has written to Lesley Watts, the Chief Executive of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust asking for the display to be removed.

It is unsurprising that this kind of artwork should have been made at UNRWA schools in Gaza. A report by IMPACT-SE which reviews UNRWA produced study materials that are used in the Palestinian territories states that PA school textbooks show a systematic insertion of violence, martyrdom, overt antisemitism, and jihad across all grades and subjects…… and the complete omission of any historical Jewish presence in the modern-day territories of Israel and the PA. The report also states (at page 37) that all maps in all PA textbooks across all grades and subjects used in UNRWA schools label the entire territory (Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip) as Palestine.

In addition Gaza is run by Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation, and schools in Gaza inevitably reflect the culture of the government, which aims to obliterate Israel.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “If Chelsea and Westminster Hospital chooses to link up with schools from Gaza, it should be aware that anti-Israel propaganda is rife at those schools. There is a danger that such propagand could spread to its own hospital school, and in this case to patients and others passing by the display on the wall.

UKLFI also pointed out that the hospital’s own patient and public engagement strategy aims to “Continuously seek to better patient experience – from our art and environment programme, …… Listen to our patients; ensuring we hear from voices representative of our diverse patient populations – including seldom heard groups …”

UKFLI told the hospital that this art display does not represent the voices of many of the Jewish or pro-Israel patient population, and indeed obliterates their interests in a factually incorrect and propagandist display.

The hospital says that it promotes equality, diversity and inclusion. However, this art display is discriminatory against Israelis, Jews and supporters of Israel.

The hospital is bound by the Equality Act 2010, which aims to protect service users from discrimination on the basis of their protected characteristics including ethnicity, religion or belief. However, it is clear that some of its patients feel that they have been discriminated against, because of their religion and ethnicity. Discrimination in the provision of a public service contravenes section 29 of the Equality Act.

Moreover, as a public authority (as defined in Schedule 19 of the Act), the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is required by section 149 of the Act to have due regard to the need to foster good relations between different religions and ethnicities. This display does not do so, and it does not appear that due regard has been given to this need.

Therefore by displaying these artworks, the Trust may be in breach of the Equality Act 2010 as well as its own policies.