Glasgow University Palestine Society have issued this following signed statement in light of the Israeli Ambassador’s recent visit to the university.
The views expressed are of the GUPS and are not associated with qmunicate or the QMU.
Statement on Israeli Ambassador’s Visit:
On May 17th, 2017, Mark Regev, Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and former Chief Spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, was invited to the University of Glasgow.
As Glasgow University students and staff, we are deeply saddened that an invitation was issued to a representative of the state of Israel who has consistently white- washed Israel’s violations of international law and crimes against the Palestinians. We believe this visit should not have gone ahead in the manner it did.
Firstly, we unequivocally denounce the use of the University as a platform by the Israeli state, especially the Israeli Ambassador to UK, until such a time that Israel complies with international law. We assume this position in full accordance with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a non-violent, grassroots movement initiated by Palestinian civil society that aims to force Israel into relinquishing its Apartheid regime by imposing international pressure through boycott, divestment and sanctions. The basic demands of the BDS movement set out the minimum terms for a just and lasting peace, namely:
- Ending the occupation and colonisation of all Arab land occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the illegally built apartheid wall.
- Recognising the fundamental rights of all Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
By hosting the Israeli Ambassador, Glasgow University has undermined the grassroots struggle to achieve freedom for the Palestinian people, and by extension, has become complicit with Israel’s Apartheid regime.
Secondly, Regev spoke at the University as a representative of the Israeli state. As students protesting his presence at SOAS stated, he was “given the cover of an academic setting to put forward official state positions”. His visit was undoubtedly an Israeli state propaganda exercise – an opportunity to justify the Israeli state’s international law violations. Moreover, Regev has a recent history of defending Israel’s domination of Palestinian land and society. Most worryingly, he has publicly defended the 2014 War on Gaza during which, in full view of the world, Israel mercilessly slaughtered more than 2200 Palestinian Gazan civilians. His positions reflect a determination to perpetuate the status quo: occupation, colonisation and apartheid, punctuated routinely by massacres of Palestinians. We find it disturbing that such toxic views could be given a platform at any academic institution.
Thirdly, we, Glasgow University Palestine Society, organised a peaceful protest at the time of the Ambassador’s visit. Despite the peaceful nature of the protest, attendees were faced with an intimidating and aggressive police presence. Neither the student body nor the organisers were notified beforehand that the police would
be present. The University, therefore, did not attempt a meaningful engagement with our group, but opted rather to invite the police onto the campus, thereby escalating any existing tensions. Moreover, the police subjected protestors to threatening language and physical assault, with one individual leaving with their body clearly marked. We are deeply concerned that there was a directed effort to use police intimidation to undermine the right of students to a peaceful protest.
We are also deeply concerned that the coordination we witnessed between University security, Israeli security and the police, reflects a greater suppression of Palestine campaigners on campus. This is especially concerning in the current climate of the highly controversial ‘Prevent’ programme which has targeted “vocal Palestine activists” as “potential extremists”. This incident raises serious concerns for students’ freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly, safety on campus, and for accountability and transparency on behalf of the University.
As Palestine human rights activists we find it shameful that an academic institution would attempt to suppress freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in a clear effort to protect the Israeli state’s interests.
Finally, we reject any possible position by University leaders that implies neutrality. By providing a platform to an Israeli official, especially the Israeli Ambassador, neutrality becomes complicity with power. As Glasgow University students and staff, we suggest the senior management of the University to put a halt to any future invitations to representatives of the Israeli state. We also demand that the tenets of freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of assembly be honoured above government imposed persecution of particular political opinions and positions.
We write this letter in full hope that Glasgow University accepts its moral responsibility to distance itself from Israel and that the Palestinian people achieve justice and freedom.
Glasgow University Palestine Society;
Glasgow University Feminist Society;
Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies;
Sarah Craig, Senior Lecturer, School of Law;
Graham Watt, Professor of General Practice;
Rebecca Kay, Professor of Russian Gender Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences;
Bridget Fowler, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, School of Social and Political Sciences;
William Guariento, Course Director, English for Academic Study, School of Modern Languages and Cultures;
Giovanna Fassetta, Lecturer Intercultural Literacies and Languages in Education, School of Education.