Halifax School’s Anti-Palestinian Racism

During a cross-cultural activity, a Park West School in Halifax forced Palestinian-Canadian students to remove the Kufiyahs they had worn as part of the activity. The principle justified banning the kufiyah (Palestinian scarf) saying it represented “war colors.” Students who did not comply were sent to the principal’s office. Such anti-Palestinian racism must be rejected: the school and the school board must publicly apologize and adopt a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Palestinian racism through their equity frameworks.

More info

According to its own website, Park West School is located in one of the most densely populated part of metro Halifax, with one of the most ethnically diverse populations, and is one of the most multicultural schools east of Montreal. Its website also boasts of diversity being a “significant part of the fabric” of its community and its mission being to build a school that will “celebrate” and “embrace” diversity by creating a “culture of acceptance.” The school has violated its own mission by discriminating against its Palestinian students and subjugating them to unwarranted harassment by the very people who should be protecting them and allowing them to feel comfortable being themselves.

Earlier this year, the Arab-Canadian Lawyers Association published a landmark report defining anti-Palestinian racism.  It describes anti-Palestinian racism (APR) as “a form of anti-Arab racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians or their narratives.”  Among the examples they cite include is “Defaming Palestinians and their allies with slander such as being inherently antisemitic, [or] a terrorist threat.”

The school’s decision to prohibit Palestinian students from wearing traditional clothing which is an international symbol of anti-oppression is  textbook example of anti-Palestinian racism.

That Park West School would intimidate Palestinian children and members of its own community for being proud of their Palestinian identity, is hurtful and offensive, both to the district’s students, and to the broader Palestinian-Canadian community. Many Palestinians became immigrants and refugees to Canada as they were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces. Such racist acts as occurred in Halifax only perpetuate Israel’s genocidal acts. Park West’s actions are notable in their ignorance and insensitivity.

See CJPME’s press statement and letter to Park West School and its school board.

Please click here to send an email to the school and board administrators telling them to apologize for this anti-Palestinian racism!

CJPME’s mission is to enable Canadians of all backgrounds to promote justice, development and peace in the Middle East, and here at home in Canada. Read other articles by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, or visit Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East's website.