‘Speak Out’ – or ‘Shut Up’? Schoolgirl’s Nakba speech censored

[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.

Competition organisers Speakers Trust have removed the video from their website, Speak Out Challenge, and their YouTube channel. Copy below.

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.”


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50 thoughts on “‘Speak Out’ – or ‘Shut Up’? Schoolgirl’s Nakba speech censored”

  1. Shame on you Speakers Trust. Back peddling and turning against your own blurb that speakers can speak on ANY subject they feel strongly about.
    You are clearly not in favour of free speech – something we have by law in this country.
    You are clearly easily bullied.
    I will no longer suggest your competition to my pupils or even reccomend it to anyone. The reverse will be true.
    I suggest you reconsider.
    Very, very disappointed.

  2. Outrageous act of censorship with a racist motivation. No doubt the enemies of free speech on Israel, Palestine and related questions and those who want to ban opposition to Zionism will be cheered by it.

    How can this happen here some may wonder? It’s not even as if she was directly attacking the British establishment. But Zionism has tremendous power in Western societies. It’s the only form of racism that dares to be this blatant in its attack on the right of a Palestinian to stand up for her people even overseas. Political Zionism has achieved hegemony as a form of racism in Western society today. If that were not true, an outspoken school-age activist like this would be feted like Malala Yousafzai.

  3. Seems you (Speakers Trust) have dusted off the knee pads…join the que of the
    unenlightened . Shame on them!

  4. Absolute disgrace. What message does this send to the youth about Freedom of Speech? If the young lady has got her facts wrong, then correct her, but if she is to be banned from a right to expression simply because some powerful propaganda machine doesn’t like her talking about the nakba, then those responsible are nothing but shameless puppets who cow tow to bullies, and this competition has no credibility, having failed its own criteria. If the young girl can’t express her point of view in a civilised manner, what options does that leave her with?

  5. Absolutely shocked. Such an organization going back on their own word. Well done for burying your head in the sand and for supporting modern day slavery torture entrapment genocide racism… Well done for supporting Israeli

  6. Lies, invective and extremism has no place in a competition for children.
    Good that she was disqualified.

    1. You are a moron like Edgar Davidson, you can’t hide from facts. you are pathetic and sad, ASAD

      1. GOOD FOR HER for speaking out bout this terrible situation. And shame on those who have slammed their fist on free speech. This world is becoming more and more fascist by the day and only those with the financial and political power to bully and oppress are listened to … Israels actions in Palestine are a disgrace and what courage that a young person can bring this to our attention. More shame that those supposedly encouraging free speech are mroe and more bullied into silence too …

    2. The only lies are yours, including probably your name. Leanne told the truth of her situation, obviously Zionists like u don’t like the truth and hence she was barred and the historical record rewritten. Extremism? Yes the Nakba was extreme, talking about it is truth. Sorry you don’t know the difference.

    3. She was speaking out, appropriately, and regarding her people. The fact that she WON is a testament to that. The fact that a belligerent bully complained and the school cowtowed to his reaction, is what is sick. Considering that Jewish Holocaust survivors have compared Israel today with “Nazi’s” and their actions as “Hitlerism”, I would seriously reconsider restoring her earned win and ability to continue. (References for the quoted Holocaust survivors: look up articles by Dr. Hajo Meyer, Jewish Holocaust of Auschwitz and Suzanne Weiss, Jewish Holocaust survivor.)

  7. Disgusting this young girl has been censored for speaking factual and intelligent work she has gathered to bring this to the fore . This is supposed a country of free speech .not israel we are in which has its lobbies trying to silence people .well it’s not going to work . The pro israel facist lobbies will be crushed and free speech allowed .I commend this young lady . Free Palestine

    1. How many of the Speakers Trust supporters are also supporters of Israel’s actions in Palestine?

  8. The article mentions an inaccuracy re fatalities. I didn’t pick up on this, though it is irrelevant anyway and shouldn’t be a condition of her going forward. But what was the inaccuracy?

    1. We believe the figure of 30,000 Palestinian children killed since the Nakba is inaccurate, and are looking for a reliable source to establish the correct figure.

  9. Disgusted and outraged by the actions of Speakers Trust.
    Clearly a kowtow to the pro-Zionist lobby.

  10. I am deeply troubled by this censorship. How, in a country that upholds freedom of speech, can you effectively silence a person representing one section of society due to extreme pressure applied by another? Totalitarian states are born by allowing this sort of thing to go unchecked. Shame on you as an organisation. Irrespective of the accuracy of the figures quoted, this young woman’s speech should be published.

    1. COWARDS!
      Let the girl speak!
      She proly knows more first hand than “they” would prefer us to know.

  11. HOW CAN YOU UPHOLD FREEDOM OF SPEECH? When you are punishing this young lady for using her right to speak. The pro israel facist lobbies are crushed when free speech is allowed to Palestinians! .I commend this young lady . FREE SPEECH-FREE PALESTINE

    1. I published this one comment in the interests of free speech and so others have the opportunity to refute your allegations. However, final warning: Islamophobic hate speech will not be tolerated on this website.

      1. I’m genuinely interested to read the refutations. Unfortunately nobody here has even tried. Can someone help me with the real facts?

    2. We can tell who the pro-Israeli zionists are from thier comments. Sad that you distort the Zionist terrorism since 1948. You think the world is blind? You think we are stupid? Despite your best attempts the world knows the truth. A few simple searches on Google will reveal all.

  12. “Speakers Trust” is the quintessential oxymoron. Their behaviour is gutless, appalling and bereft of integrity.

    Jerry Cutler, Vancouver, Canada

  13. Selective free speech when good people speak up magical things can happen, never stop speaking the truth as one’s sees it! Well done young lady!

  14. Over time many Jews have complained about silence regarding the Nazi Holocaust while it was happening, but we’re supposed to be silent about the on-going Holocaust against Palestinians?

  15. The silence over the disgrace that calls itself Israel is deafening, and the racism that hides behind anti-racism is a clever sleight of hand. This young girl puts the media to shame, well done.

    1. Totally agree with everybody who is in pro of the speech of this Palestinian young lady who exposed the facts of the suffering, racist discrimination and ethnic cleaning of Palestinians so accurately, clearly and brillantly.
      And shame on the zionist panel who censured what they are not comfortable to hear, the truth.
      The entire world knows what is going on by now.

  16. Having read The Guardian’s report on this there seems to be a number of inaccuracies in this report. 1) Leanne did not win the competition she was put through to a round from which she and a further 15 students were eliminated and 2) she was not put through to the final because she ran over time by 30 secs and “her thinking became muddled” 3) The video was removed to protect her from the horrendous trolling that was taking place.
    Not quite a Zionist conspiracy but why let facts get iin the way of a good story?

    1. The reason that the Jewish Chronicle picked up this story, and the reason why removal of Leanne’s video provoked charges of censorship is simple: Speakers Trust CEO sent a grovelling, apologetic, courteous letter to Edgar Davidson who had accused Leanne in his own letter of blood libels against Israel, and of fabricating history of Palestinian suffering. The CEO said Leanne had violated the rule against insulting, inflammatory propaganda, and if was for this reason she was not chosen. Read the letter exchange here https://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/update-speakers-trust-ignorance-palestinian-experience/

  17. Edgar Davidson posed as a well-known Jewish academic. It also says you doctored the reply you were sent by the CEO to suggest, incorrectly, that the speech was in breach of the organisation’s rules. How do you respond? Also, is Edgar Davidson your real name?

  18. On May 27, Ms Holness said, one of the bloggers had emailed her, posing as a well-known academic from the Jewish community. “He even gave a home address and appeared to copy in his wife,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is serious, the Jewish community are livid’, and I dropped everything and answered him very seriously.”
    Her reply was then forwarded to the Jewish Chronicle, but some words had been changed, she says.
    “He added the words that Leanne ‘had breached competition rules’, but that didn’t happen. There are no competition rules that anyone can breach, just the basic rules of public speaking.”
    In fact the email writer was a blogger who posts as Edgar Davidson at edgar1981.blogspot.co.uk under the title “Confronting antisemitism and Israel hatred”.
    On his blog, Mr Davidson claimed that the judging panel of the Speakers Trust had “decided unanimously against sending Leanne Mohamad through” to the final of the competition because “they had the same concerns to those I raised”.
    Not true, says the trust. Leanne and 21 other semi-finalists simply did not make the final cut, a decision that was taken a week before the Jewish lobbying began.

    1. WOW, where did you read that about ‘doctoring’ her words?
      Regardless, even if he had been a “well-known academic”, he was clearly a racist bigot and apologist for war crimes, and should have been treated as such. Holness acted unethically in sharing even the fact the schoolgirl had not been chosen, just to appease what she absurdly refers to as “the Jewish community.” She must have a very low opinion of Jews if she thinks Davidson is representative.

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