Johannesburg - A King David High School, Linksfield, matric pupil has laid a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission, claiming he was called an Israeli-hater.

The pupil said he was punished by the school after commenting publicly on the Gaza conflict.

The pupil, whose name has been withheld as he is a minor, and his parents say he was victimised, threatened and bullied viciously in a campaign led by a teacher after posting comments on a Facebook forum run by members of the school community.

After posting comments, the pupil was called into principal Marc Falconer’s office, where he was told that although he had been elected a pupil leader, he would not be allowed to wear a special blue blazer that indicates the wearer is a leader for a designated period of time. This happened late last year.

The pupil said he has been so severely traumatised that he has since had to attend “intense private counselling”.

The ban on wearing the school blazer and the deferment of the pupil’s leadership was also publicly announced in a school newsletter.

The SAHRC complaint quotes Falconer writing in the newsletter: “(The pupil) engage(d) in a debate which was neither appropriate in terms of the forum nor bringing anything complimentary for our school.”

Pupils should be cautious of public forums that could be dangerous and do more harm than good, he added.

“I ask you to understand the potential for damage and pain and hurt, and the danger this platform provides in engaging in loshan hora (a Jewish term for derogatory speech),” he wrote.

Falconer said he had not seen banning the pupil from wearing his blazer as punishment and encouraged the pupil to continue his debate in an appropriate way, by inviting speakers to the school.

Marco Schepers,

the lawyer representing the pupil and his family, said the family had taken their complaint to the SAHRC after the SA Board of Jewish Education declined to appoint an outside investigator, electing their director, Rabbi Craig Kacev, to deal with the matter.

* This incident is different from the one involving King David Victory Park deputy head boy Joshua Broomberg.

The Star