The horrific events unfolding in Gaza are a stark reminder to the world that the occupation of Palestine must end. It is heart wrenching to witness so many families mourning their loved ones. We want to express our collective sympathy with colleagues and students in further and higher education who are personally affected through connections with Israeli and Palestinian family members and friends who have been killed, injured and made homeless.
UCU throughout its history has always supported the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom and recognises that the root cause of the conflict today lies in the dispossession of the Palestinians through the creation of the state of Israel and the racist apartheid system which governs the lives of everyone living within the borders of historic Palestine.
UCU policy sets out that it is our collective responsibility to push an international solution through boycotting, divesting and sanctioning Israel (BDS) to pressure a retreat from human rights abuses. BDS played a crucial role in ending the Apartheid of South Africa, and today is a key part of working for peace and justice.
At UCU Congress in 2021 we were right to warn of the escalation of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians and point to the role of the same Israeli far-right movements which are in government today in deepening the conflict. Today we are seeing a total siege imposed on Gaza, the closing of all borders to prevent Palestinians leaving and preparations for an invasion. Cutting off electricity, water and food along with continuous bombing are acts of collective punishment against 2.3 million civilians and have been rightly condemned by the UN.
Similarly, UCU Congress this summer was correct to put important policy in place in defence of free expression on Palestine, voting “to authorise all appropriate action from branches to protect students and staff who find themselves under attack for supporting the cause of the Palestinian people”. With a Home Secretary happy to declare the Palestinian flag a potential sign of support of terrorism, UCU must be ready to mobilise against attacks on our members and in defence of the rights of students to dissent in the workplace and on our streets.
We condemn the Tory government’s attempt to encourage the police to arrest those who are protesting against the terror unleashed on the Palestinian people and labelling all those who do so as antisemitic.
We call on UCU members and branches to mobilise for the protest in solidarity with Palestine called by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on 14 October. We pledge to campaign against restrictions on the right to boycott, protest and organise against Israeli apartheid.
We also condemn the Tory government for sending millitary support to defend the Israeli state. Sending battleships and aircraft into the area to defend their imperial interests will only serve to pour petrol on a raging inferno.
As a union we have a long history of standing up against injustice and oppression and we cannot waver in our solidarity now.
Please support the appeal for Medical Aid for Palestinians: www.map.org.uk