Bal­four po­etry con­test fails to men­tion Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY BEN WEICH

A KENT gram­mar school has abruptly with­drawn from host­ing a po­etry com­pe­ti­tion mark­ing the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion cen­te­nary which only asked for sub­mis­sions on the theme of Pales­tine.

St Olave’s Gram­mar School in Or­p­ing­ton an­nounced in its June news­let­ter that it would hold an in­ter­na­tional po­etry com­pe­ti­tion on Novem­ber 2.

The com­pe­ti­tion, spon­sored by The Bal­four Project, Short­lands Po­etry Cir­cle and Brom­ley In­ter­na­tional Clus­ter, is open to stu­dents aged be­tween 10and 18-years-old from “all faiths and none”, and will award £500 to the win­ner.

The school was con­tacted by Board of Deputies vice pres­i­dent Sheila Ge­wolb over why Is­rael was not men­tioned.

Head­mas­ter Ay­din Önaç told Mrs Ge­wolb that the school was “sim­ply host­ing the com­pe­ti­tion”.

He added: “I know that the or­gan­is­ers were very care­ful to use the term ‘mark’ rather than ‘cel­e­brate’ [the cen­te­nary] so as not to pre­de­ter­mine any bias in sub­mis­sions.”

Mr Önaç said that as the com­pe­ti­tion had been “un­der­way for some time” there was no need to change the guide­lines.

But when con­tacted by the JC on Wed­nes­day, the head­mas­ter said the school was no longer host­ing the event. He de­clined to com­ment fur­ther.

Mrs Ge­wolb said: “Any re­spon­si­ble project, which a school pro­motes to its stu­dents, needs to pro­mote peace and a two-state so­lu­tion. This po­etry com­pe­ti­tion does not meet th­ese needs.”

St Olave’s hit the head­lines last month for ex­clud­ing pupils who failed to get top grades in AS-level ex­ams .

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