Cambridge students respond to academics’ Palestine statement

Helen Spokes 18 October 2014

More than 60 Cambridge students have issued a statement in response to the one produced by Cambridge academics in September. They call the initial statement “misguided and myopic” and challenge the “discriminatory practices of our university lecturers”.

The initial statement from Cambridge academics, which now has over 60 signatories, condemned the assault on Gaza, calling for a lift on the blockade and an end to the “discriminatory and dehumanising treatment of Palestinian citizens”.

While the students agree with the “general principle” for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict, they object to the “singling out” of Israel and support the end of the “victimisation of Israeli supporters on campus and in the media”.

Josh Goodman of Churchill College, the organiser of the counter-statement, told The Cambridge Student: “Not only is this [statement] misinformed in a number of instances, the very principle behind it is discriminatory. I’m sure we all applaud the call for peace. However, singling out Israel as the only country in the world worth commenting on and whitewashing what is an incredibly complex situation with bias is in no way productive”.

They urge the academic signatories to “not accept blindly the figures released by Hamas about civilisation casualties” but to “examine more critically the demographic evidence of those who have died, which suggests that the majority were combatants”. 

The students have also challenged the academics’ support for an immediate lift on the blockade on Gaza, which they consider is “foolish and misguided”, “without any consideration for the security of Israeli citizens”.

The students conclude that the initial “un-academic” statement “demonstrated a severe lack of nuance surrounding the complexity for the Arab-Israeli conflict” and criticised them for “achieving little save establishing the desire to discriminate against a sole nationality”. 

The Cambridge University Palestine Society has appealed to the initial statement produced by Cambridge academics, in order to emphasise their protests against the Israeli Ambassador to London, Daniel Taub, who will be speaking at the Union on Monday 20th October at 7pm. 

The society issued the following statement: "The Union's decision to invite the Israeli ambassador is deeply insensitive given that it comes in the wake of Israel's recent brutal assault on the Gaza strip in which over 2000 Palestinians were killed…PalSoc considers hosting the Israeli Ambassador as a tacit endorsement of war crimes committed in Gaza".