Should Irish children be taught about Gaza in school?

The group Teachers for Palestine has proposed a two-week campaign to bring awareness of events in Gaza into the classroom
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.34 22 Apr 2024

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Should Irish children be taugh...

Should Irish children be taught about Gaza in school?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.34 22 Apr 2024

Share this article

The teaching about events in Gaza is something that ties into the school curriculum but is not present in the textbooks, a teacher has said.

The group Teachers for Palestine has proposed a two-week campaign to bring awareness to events in Gaza.

It says the focus for younger age groups will be on exploring local dance, food, and culture linked through reading, art and play.


"We want to give everybody, teachers, SNAs and students the opportunity to bring a little bit of conversation about Palestine into at least one lesson", it says.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter has claimed the move would "teach hate, brainwash children [and] demonise Israel  and Jews".

Conall O'Dufaigh from Teachers for Palestine told The Hard Shoulder it is up to individual schools.

"This a very elective situation; schools principals and teachers can all sign off on this or not," he said.

"No one is being forced to bring this into their classroom.

"I'd like to point out as well that the backlash it got in the last 24 hours seems a little bit overblown to me.

"There's no endorsement of violence, no discrimination, it's actually blatantly stated in the goals [that] there should be no discrimination including Islamophobia or anti-Semitism."


Mr O'Dufaigh said the topic is something students want to learn more about.

"Our goal is to bring awareness to the plight of Palestinians - this is something that has been raised with us by our students," he said.

"It's something that's come up a lot in conversations, it's very much in the news.

"It ties very directly into a lot of elements in the school curriculum... there's a lot of stuff in our curriculums now about active citizenship, global citizenship and history."

Mr O'Dufaigh said it ties into the curriculum "while also not really being present in the textbooks".

"We felt that there was a need there, especially given everything that's been happening in the news, to raise this issue in our schools and to allow space for materials to be brought in and discussed and debated," he said.

"I think opposing views should be welcome in any classroom and I think that's very much part of our plan for this awareness fortnight".

Mr O'Dufaigh said October 7th and hostage taking "should be discussed as part of the awareness".

He said many schools organised actions and fundraisers when Ukraine was invaded by Russia.

'Black and white'

Irish Independent columnist Ian O'Doherty told the show he believes the idea is "deranged".

"We're seeing a rise in anti-Semitism across Europe, particularly in Britain," he said.

"I've seen a lot of it in Ireland.

"When you're telling children a story you have to give them a kind of black and white."

Mr O'Doherty said he's unsure how children will understand given the number of adults who don't.

"When they get older they can begin to understand nuance and complexity," he said.

"But as we've seen, and I've seen in the Irish media, the amount of Irish adults who don't understand the complexity and the nuance of what's going on over there - how on earth are you going to expect children to grasp it?"

Mr O’Doherty claimed the group behind the plan is "politically adjacent to the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Committee".

"The difference between this scenario and the one we're seeing in Ukraine is that the Russian started the war," he said.

"In this scenario Hamas started the war on October 7th," he added.

Mr O'Dufaigh suggested Mr O'Doherty "could benefit from some of our lessons here".

Listen back here:

Main image: A solidarity march with the Palestinian people in Dublin, 22-5-21. Image: Leah Farrell /

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Active Citizenship Alan Shatter Anti-Semitism Conall O'Dufaigh Conversation Gaza Global Citizenship Ian O'Doherty Ireland Irish Children Islamophobia Israel Link In Bio Palestine Teachers For Palestine The Hard Shoulder

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