KU UCU Branch statement and motion on the situation in Palestine and Israel – October 2023

Kingston UCU affirms its unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation. We also want to express our sadness and dismay at the recent violence in Palestine and Israel, and we deplore all loss of life. We understand that many in our community will be affected by these events and we extend our support to all of them, especially to those students and colleagues who may have lost loved ones or whose loved ones are under direct threat of attack.

This branch supports the rights of students and staff to express their solidarity with the people of Palestine at a time when the freedom to do so is in danger of being stifled by higher education institutions and by the British government. We also seek to reaffirm the national policy of the University and College Union to protect students and staff who may themselves come under attack for supporting the cause of the Palestinian people. We acknowledge and support the Open Letter of the Birzeit Union of Teachers and Employees, and we stand in solidarity with academics and teaching professionals in Palestine currently under threat of individual or collective harm.

We recognise that the British government’s military and political support for Israel’s discriminatory and colonial government serves to reinforce the bigoted conditions from which violence and injustice emerge. We support an end to the British government’s provision of arms in any form to Israel’s discriminatory and colonial government, and we want the withdrawal of Royal Naval ships deployed to support an Israeli offensive against Gaza and surrounding areas. We further support a ceasefire in the region, and the immediate implementation of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people. We encourage our members to donate towards this aid, either through Medical Aid for Palestinians or Medecins sans Frontieres.

This branch notes:

1. UCU Congress 2021 passed a resolution condemning the Israeli state’s apartheid and colonial settler policies against the Palestinian people, including siege and bombardment of Gaza, seizure of Palestinian land, and policies and actions encouraging racist violence and ethnic cleansing.
2. UCU Congress has repeatedly affirmed support for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
3. A recent report by BRISMES (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies) documented dozens of cases where pro-Palestinian voices have been silenced or stifled as a result of unfounded accusations of antisemitism.
4. The British Home Secretary has told Chief Constables that “waving a Palestinian flag” and chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” may be a criminal offence “in certain contexts”.

This branch believes:

1. That Israel’s apartheid system must be dismantled to enable democratic citizenship and equity for all.
2. That the Palestinian people have the internationally recognised right to resist occupation.

This branch resolves:

1. To support local and national protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
2. To support campaigns against attempts by the British government to restrict rights to free expression and protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
3. To implement UCU national policy in support of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), and to seek establishment of a joint University-UCU anti-apartheid committee to:
a) progress disinvestment talks with management
b) protect the freedom of staff and students to express solidarity with the
Palestinian people without fear of unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism and
support for terrorism.
4. To support the freedom of staff and students to comment on Palestine on social media and in academic work without fear of personal or professional sanctions.
5. To back our members in fundraising or campaigning efforts, on the University campus or in the surrounding area, in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
6. To invite speakers to our meetings who will brief us on the background to the current crisis and how we may continue to act in solidarity as a branch.

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