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Students at Toronto high school wear blue and white to protest relocation of Israeli flag

WATCH ABOVE: Students and parents rallied to get a Jewish Heritage Month banner back in the foyer of a Toronto high school after it was suddenly removed. Shallima Maharaj has the story.

Students at a Toronto high school are wearing blue and white to protest the removal and relocation of a banner with an Israeli flag painted on it from the front entrance.

Students at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute told Global News the banner was painted in celebration of Jewish Heritage Month and the removal of it was never discussed.

It has since been moved to the library, which a number of parents and students said is little consolation.

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Ruth Herman, a parent of a student who attends Forest Hill, said the banner was removed only a week after it was put up because a student complained.

“I felt absolutely appalled, and offended, by this action because the Jewish flag is not necessarily a political flag, it’s [an] I.D. for all Jewish people, and my daughter is going to school feeling like her identity is flawed,” she said.

A number of students at the school wore blue and white after encouraging each other through social media to show solidarity.

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B’nai Brith Canada tweeted early Wednesday morning when they heard of the incident, calling it an outrage.

They also said that the Toronto District School Board informed them they would display the banner internally at specific Jewish Heritage Month events organized by the students.

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Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of Canadian Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) also tweeted a response that says FSWC is working with TDSB and parents about the developing issues.

Later Wednesday afternoon, the TDSB sent a statement to Global News that said the banner had been put back in the front foyer.

“Some members of the school community expressed concerns about the banner and the use of the Israeli flag. As a result, it was removed and then subsequently relocated to the library where Holocaust survivors were speaking with students today. It has since been placed back in the school’s front foyer and we apologize for any misunderstanding or hurt that may have been caused by the initial decision,” TDSB communications officer Ryan Bird wrote.

The statement also said that going forward staff will have conversations with students to ensure they feel safe and welcome. As well, an assembly will be held tomorrow to continue the discussion.

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— With files from Shallima Maharaj 

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