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A KENT grammar school has abruptly withdrawn from hosting a poetry competition marking the Balfour Declaration centenary which only asked for submissions on the theme of Palestine.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