A teacher at one of Scotland’s top-performing state schools has been sacked for showing a controversial 18-rated film to young pupils.

Jonathan Guetta, a former Hebrew teacher at Mearns Castle High School, allowed S1 pupils to watch parts of an Israeli war film which features pornographic scenes and extreme violence, including children being killed.

Waltz With Bashir, about the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War, is also considered controversial by some due to the way it deals with the Sabra and Shatila massacre in which hundreds, possibly thousands, of Palestinians were killed.

Mr Guetta faced disciplinary action after showing it to a group of children as young as 12 at an after-school class, before going on to claim that East Renfrewshire Council had been anti-Semitic in the way it dealt with him.

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He took his case to an employment tribunal, but the local authority has now been found to have acted fairly.

A judgment on the case reveals that the school, based in the upmarket suburb of Newton Mearns, received several complaints after parents discovered what their children had watched. One father complained that “the film was wholly inappropriate for children” as it “contains explicit pornography, children being killed and psychological issues”.

Several pupils were removed from the class until the school took action.

Employment judge Michelle Sutherland described the animated film as being “akin to a graphic novel”.

She said: “It contains war violence, including real life video footage of the aftermath of the massacre showing lifeless bodies of adults and children.

“It also has a brief explicit pornographic scene showing an animated man penetrating an animated woman.”

While the excerpt shown by Mr Guetta did not show the real-life footage or the explicit “pornography”, it did show “violence (including dogs being shot), inappropriate language, and male and female nudity”.

The class watched the first 20 minutes of the film and the teacher, from Gourock, stood in front of the screen during inappropriate scenes.

The tribunal also heard that at the next class, Mr Guetta – who also taught Modern Hebrew at Jewish school Calderwood Lodge Primary – gave a link to the film to a 16-year-old pupil despite being aware of parental complaints.

He told the pupil “not to watch the very end of the film”.

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Mr Guetta was dismissed in May 2018 after facing a string of allegations including exposing pupils to inappropriate, upsetting material, allowing them access to pornographic material and failing to seek parental consent for children to view an 18-rated film.

He was also accused of exposing children to material “which had the potential to incite hatred and religious intolerance”, but officials later dropped this allegation.

In its disciplinary report, the council stated: “The claimant did not provide any historical or political context to the film and the relationship between the Arab-Israeli people in the area in September 1982.

“Furthermore no evidence was presented that the claimant provided any form of unbiased account of the moral perspectives of the protagonists of the film - the Israeli Defence Force, Lebanese Phalangists or the Muslin refugees.”

During his disciplinary, Mr Guetta claimed officials “assumed he was doing Pro-Israeli propaganda” because he was Jewish.

He went on to sue the council for religious discrimination and breach of contract, however Judge Sutherland found that the council’s disciplinary investigation was “not biased, dishonest or tainted with anti-semitism”.

The Judge added: “The claimant made two errors of judgment for which he paid a high price. 

“However, the decision to dismiss was not wholly disproportionate in the circumstances given the serious nature of those errors - the claimant had shown an exert of an 18 rated film to a class of 12-year-olds and had then provided a 16-year-old with a link to that film despite knowledge of parental complaints.

“This was potentially a controversial film about a controversial war.”

Mr Guetta was referred to the GTCS fitness to teach panel who are currently investigating him. 

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council said: “As soon as this matter was brought to our attention we ensured all appropriate measures were put in place. 

“The judgement which has been made in this case supports the actions and decisions taken by the council.”

The Herald was unable to contact Mr Guetta.

Waltz With Bashir is written and directed by Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman. 
Depicting his search for lost memories and his experience as a soldier in the 1982 Lebanon War, the film has received critical acclaim and a number of awards.