[Please read follow-up post here]
UPDATED: The Jewish Chronicle erroneously reported that “Following complaints by blogger Edgar Davidson to the Speakers Trust” the decision was taken not to put her through to the grand finals. They had already taken the decision to censor her (more details below).
(Via Artists for Palestine UK)
A British Palestinian school girl, Leanne Mohamad of Wanstead High School, won the “Speak Out” challenge after giving this impressive performance to enthusiastic applause. But a day later, Speakers Trust decided Leanne will no longer be sent through to the grand final of the public speaking competition. It seems that giving a personal account of the Nakba and a plea for an end to discrimination against Palestinians is not acceptable in the UK in 2016.
The Speak Out challenge is described thus: “In each one-day workshop, students take part in games and exercises to encourage them to think on their feet in a fun, interactive and safe environment. The day culminates in a ‘Speak Out’ speech contest where students can speak on any topic they feel strongly about – using only their voices, their words and their passion. Notes are not allowed; they must use the techniques from the training.”
The Free Speech on Israel network objects to any undue influence that was imposed on Speakers Trust; 15 year old Leanne Mohamad should have been allowed to go through to the final, on condition that she amended her fatality figures to conform to the historical record.
The Jewish Chronicle accurately reported that a letter from the Speakers Trust CEO was sent to Davidson in response to his own explicitly racist letter, confirming that: “There are two fundamental rules that are made explicit during the training: the speech must have a positive and uplifting message – in fact this is one of the core terms of the agreement with the Jack Petchey Foundation [and] a speaker should never inflame or offend the audience or insult others and this, by definition, means that propaganda is ruled out absolutely from the outset… Speakers Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation judging panel decided unanimously against sending Leanne Mohamad through to the next stage and she will not be speaking at the Grand Final. These were precisely our concerns.”