WCC UK Statement of Solidarity with Palestine 


WCC UK Statement of Solidarity with Palestine

Members of the Women’s Classical Committee UK passed a motion at the Annual General Meeting on 3rd of May 2024 to create and publicise a Statement of Solidarity with Palestine. We intend this statement to act as a pledge of our support for all those who are affected by the conflict and who face harassment for expressing their own support for the Palestinian people. Members of the WCC UK are also creating a resources page with background on the history of this conflict, further source citations, and suggestions for ways members of UK universities can advocate for colleagues and students within their own institutions, and support direct action.

As of 14th of May 2024, at least 1,139 Israelis and over 35,000 Palestinians (more than 14,500 of them children) have been killed following the atrocities committed by Hamas on 7th October 2023.[1] The vast majority of the Palestinian population in Gaza has been violently displaced[2] and millions have been deprived of access to food,[3] water,[4] electricity, fuel,[5] housing,[6] and medical provision.[7] The Israel Defence Forces have demolished vital infrastructure,[8] targeted journalists,[9] healthcare workers[10] and aid workers,[11] and have destroyed every university in Gaza.[12] These are violations of international humanitarian law.[13] The International Court of Justice has determined the actions of the State of Israel to be plausibly in violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a convention adopted by the United Nations in 1948.[14] Prior to the 7th October 2023, Israel’s systematic ethnic discrimination against Palestinians has been termed ‘apartheid’ by international bodies including Amnesty International,[15] Human Rights Watch,[16] and UN Special Rapporteurs.[17]

We stand in solidarity with Palestinians and with all those who denounce the actions of the State of Israel. We condemn the atrocities committed by Hamas on 7th October, the targeted attacks on Israeli and Palestinian life, and the catastrophic destruction of Palestinian culture, heritage, and futures. As academics, education workers and students, we condemn the systemic obliteration of education in Gaza through the arrest, detention and killing of teachers, students and staff, and the destruction of educational infrastructure. As Classicists, we condemn the destruction of Palestinian cultural heritage, including religious sites, historical buildings, monuments, museums and archaeological sites.[18]

We refuse to tolerate any forms of racism including Islamophobia and antisemitism, and note that both of these have increased in the UK since October 7th 2023, including within universities. We stand in solidarity with students and faculty across the UK and worldwide who are engaging in direct activism and in calling for institutions to reconsider their economic and scholarly support of the State of Israel and the Israel Defence Forces. We oppose universities’ investment in military industries, especially the manufacture and sale of weapons, and we call on them to cut financial ties with institutions and companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law. We call for the release of all hostages, political prisoners,[19] and those illegally and inhumanely held without charge.[20] We are deeply committed to principles of free speech and academic freedom, including the freedom to criticise the State of Israel.[21]

[1] Reuters, ‘Gaza death toll: how many Palestinians has Israel’s campaign killed’, 14/5/24: https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/gaza-death-toll-how-many-palestinians-has-israels-campaign-killed-2024-05-14/.

[2] Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, ‘Palestine – Conflict in Gaza leaves 83 per cent of the population internally displaced in less than three months’, 14/5/24: https://www.internal-displacement.org/spotlights/Palestine-Conflict-in-Gaza-leaves-83-per-cent-of-the-population-internally-displaced-in-less-than-three-months/.

[3] IPC Global Initiative Special Brief, ‘GAZA STRIP: Hostilities leave the entire population highly food insecure and at risk of Famine’, 18/3/24: https://www.ipcinfo.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ipcinfo/docs/IPC_Gaza_Strip_Acute_Food_Insecurity_Feb_July2024_Special_Brief.pdf.

[4] ReliefWeb, ‘The Gaza Strip on the brink of a public health catastrophe: Health and WASH Clusters reassert calls for immediate long-lasting ceasefire’, 20/2/24: https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/gaza-strip-brink-public-health-catastrophe-health-and-wash-clusters-reassert-calls-immediate-long-lasting-ceasefire.

[5] UNWRA, ‘UNRWA Situation Report #107 on the Situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem’, 12/5/24: https://www.unrwa.org/resources/reports/unrwa-situation-report-107-situation-gaza-strip-and-west-bank-including-east-Jerusalem.

[6] Becky Sullivan (NPR), ‘What is ‘domicide,’ and why has war in Gaza brought new attention to the term?’, 9/2/24: https://www.npr.org/2024/02/09/1229625376/domicide-israel-gaza-palestinians.

[7] ReliefWeb, ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) Update on the hospital situation in Gaza: 13 May 2024, 12:40’, 13/5/24: https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/medical-aid-palestinians-map-update-hospital-situation-gaza-13-may-2024-1240.

[8] ReliefWeb, ‘The Right to Adequate Housing is Under Attack in Gaza’, 18/4/24: https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/right-adequate-housing-under-attack-gaza.

[9] Committee to Protect Journalists, ‘Journalist casualties in the Israel-Gaza war’, 15/5/24: https://cpj.org/2024/05/journalist-casualties-in-the-israel-gaza-conflict/.

[10] Doctors Without Borders, ‘Seven months of relentless attacks on health care in Palestine’, 13/5/24: https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/latest/seven-months-relentless-attacks-health-care-palestine.

[11] Human Rights Watch, ‘Gaza: Israelis Attacking Known Aid Worker Locations’, 14/5/24: https://www.hrw.org/news/2024/05/14/gaza-israelis-attacking-known-aid-worker-locations.

[12] UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘UN experts deeply concerned over ‘scholasticide’ in Gaza’, 18/4/24: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2024/04/un-experts-deeply-concerned-over-scholasticide-gaza.

[13] Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis (Reuters), ‘US says Israel’s use of weapons may have violated international law’, 11/5/24: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-says-it-was-reasonable-assess-israel-used-us-weapons-inconsistent-with-2024-05-10/.

[14] International Court of Justice, ‘Summary of the Order of 26 January 2024’, 26/1/24: https://www.icj-cij.org/node/203454. See too the ‘Application instituting proceedings and request for the indication of provisional measures’, 12/29/23: https://www.icj-cij.org/node/203394, and the statement signed by 800 scholars of international law and genocide (15/10/23): https://twailr.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Gaza-public-statement-and-signatories.pdf

[15] Amnesty International, ‘Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity’, 1/2/22: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/5141/2022/en/.

[16] Human Rights Watch, ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’, 27/4/21: https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution.

[17] Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in OPT, ‘Israel Has Imposed Upon Palestine an Apartheid Reality in a Post-apartheid World – Press Release’, 25/3/22: https://www.un.org/unispal/document/special-rapporteur-on-the-situation-of-human-rights-in-opt-israel-has-imposed-upon-palestine-an-apartheid-reality-in-a-post-apartheid-world-press-release/.

[18] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), ‘Gaza Strip: Damage assessment’, last updated 10/4/24: https://www.unesco.org/en/gaza/assessment.

[19] Omar Shakir (Los Angeles Times), Why does Israel have so many Palestinians in detention and available to swap?’, 29/11/23: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2023-11-29/gaza-palestinian-prisoners-hostage-exchange-detention-israeli-prisons.

[20] CNN, ‘Strapped down, blindfolded, held in diapers: Israeli whistleblowers detail abuse of Palestinians in shadowy detention center’, 11/5/24: https://edition.cnn.com/2024/05/10/middleeast/israel-sde-teiman-detention-whistleblowers-intl-cmd/index.html.

[21] Neve Gordon (Middle East Critique), ‘Antisemitism and Zionism: The Internal Operations of the IHRA Definition’, 22/3/24: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19436149.2024.2330821. See too the UK Jewish Academic Network’s statement ‘Not in our name: Weaponising antisemitism hurts us all’, 9/5/24: https://ukjan.org.uk/#inaugural-statement-20240509.

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