British Academics Slam Israel 40

On the war:

“…Israel must lose. It is not enough to call for another ceasefire, or more humanitarian assistance. It is not enough to urge the renewal of dialogue and to acknowledge the concerns and suffering of both sides. If we believe in the principle of democratic self-determination, if we affirm the right to resist military aggression and colonial occupation, then we are obliged to take sides… against Israel, and with the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

We must do what we can to stop Israel from winning its war. Israel must accept that its security depends on justice and peaceful coexistence with its neighbours, and not upon the criminal use of force.

We believe Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its assault on Gaza, end the occupation of the West Bank, and abandon all claims to possess or control territory beyond its 1967 borders. We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

Full letter and signatories…

On the humanitarian consequences:

“…casualty data are indicative of a military campaign being waged in an indiscriminate, disproportionate, and therefore under International Humanitarian Law, illegal fashion. Failure of the international community to ensure legal culpability would provide military forces around the world with a clear message that the Geneva Conventions can be discarded with impunity, as in Gaza today. If this happens, children and women will continue to pay heavily in future conflicts.”

University College London, CIHD

Update 22.01.09: British students are also taking action in at least eight Universities, adopting various protest tactics.

Protests over Gaza spread to eight English universities

Students stage university protest

Oxford University

Birmingham University

Essex University

Kings College London

London School of Economics


Sussex University

Warwick University

Update 25.01.09:

Cambridge University joins the protests

17+ Universities have now taken action

The Cambridge University Gaza solidarity blog can be read at:

Update 29.01.09:

Update 03.02.09:

Nottingham University has forcibly evicted students engaged in a sit-in. Security guards manhandled and apparently assaulted students last night to force an end to the protest. A video is available here

More details at:

A blog with news on all the different university protests can be read at:

40 thoughts on “British Academics Slam Israel

1 2
  • writerman

    In George Bush's last address to the American people, he talked about the concepts of 'good' and 'evil.' He doesn't really 'do' nuance.

    From what I understood Bush thinks that the United States, the West, is good and involved in gigantic struggle with evil, a life and death struggle.

    Good is not only allowed to fight evil, but has something close to a sacred duty to fight evil and rid the world of it, eventually, the outcome is not in doubt.

    Good, in this battle for the soul of the world, has the right to use any methods when fighting evil in order to win. Even methods that evil uses against good. Good can even do evil, move to the dark side, if the cause is right and… good.

    Of course this attitude can be, and is used to justify terrible acts of collosal violence, massive disproportinate violence when fighting evil on the battlefield. So this somewhat elastic view of the nature of good and evil, can lead us towards horrors, like Gaza, which if it wasn't justified within the terms of good versus evil, would be characterised as crimes against humanity, warcrimes and arguably genocide.

    Once one has designated and defined oneself as on the side of good one has carte blanche to use any methods against evil, even becoming evil in the service of good.

    Here, the end really does justify the means, and that way lies barbarism and madness and any conceivable abomination.

  • Chuck Unsworth

    However, this is not a war – legally, that is. Israel has not declared war on Palestine, but has inflicted a limited military incursion. Nor, strictly, is this latest action a colonial invasion.

  • writerman

    Chuck, Chuck,

    You know you're spillting hairs, which is fine, in theory, but some many civilians have been killed, and we haven't lifted a finger to hinder it, so splitting hairs and arguing about legalistic wording seems slightyl tasteless to me.

    Of course it's not a 'war' legal or otherwise, like the tango, one needs two sides to fight a real war.

    This was a massive, military attack, not even a battle, an attack by a sophisticated and powerful modern army on an weak, poor, crowded, virtually defenceless, enclave; which was 'defended' by a… a civilian militia.

    Just from public statements made by senior Israelis this 'action' against the Gaza Strip, was a 'lesson' a form quite clearly of collective punishment of the entire population for the actions of elements in Hamas. As such this is, and there is a concensus about this I believe, a warcrime and warcrimes are obviously illegal.

    So as long as we agree that Israel's actions were criminal and that Israel's leaders should be held accountable for their various crimes connected to this attack, we'll agree.

  • writerman

    It's odd, though I'm almost getting used to it, that my last comment about the nature of the Israeli attack on Gaza, which I termed 'The Rape of Gaza' has been 'mysteriously' removed by someone. Is this a pattern I see before me? OK, I'm not especially enamoured with the Israeli government's attack on Gaza, but I don't think this perfectly reasonable attitude and basic democratic right justifies disappearence, or being wiped off the map!

  • writerman

    Dear Craig,

    It's good you are moving address. I humbly suggest that you don't, Don't, publish your new address quite so publically, as I've heard that there is a, or a couple of, 'hit-squads' or gangs of thugs on the loose, who are beginning to target people who stick their head above the parapet, for abuse, roughing-up and beatings, so perhaps, a friendly suggestion, until things quite down you might like to show just a bit of common sense and prudence? After all, you don't just have yourself to think about now do you?

  • eddie

    Yes and meanwhile these very same academics are churning out students who are barely literate. I think they should find better things to do with their time, especially as they are undertaking political activism at the taxpayers' expense. They are writing as academics not as private individuals. Academic boycotts smack of Stalinism.

  • Shafiq

    Ah, there comes the myth about 'barely literate students'. Obviously, graduates of the Redbrick Universities must be illiterate, for their respective universities being very highly rated across the world. And funny, I thought the most University funding comes from the student's pockets (or parent's pockets), the vast majority of whom, support and agree with every sentence of that letter.

  • eddie

    "… I thought the (sic) most University funding comes from the student's pockets (or parent's (sic)pockets)". WRONG, at least 60% of higher education funding comes from taxpayers.

    "the vast majority of whom, support and agree with every sentence of that letter." ..for which assertion you have no proof whatsoever.

    I rest my case about illiteracy.

  • writerman


    If you are going to critisise someone for being 'illiterate' and a whole group for being illiterate, surely you should you the word properly yourself? Otherwise you yourself might be accused of being illiterate, no?

    Shafiq isn't really showing signs of being illiterate, if we mean uneducated, especially in relation to the ability to read and write. All he did was, in your opinion, present illogical or arguments that you didn't agree with, that isn't normally considered a sign of illiteracy?

    Further, it's a tedious and not particularly pleasant trait, to continually make ad hominem attacks on people for typos, or because the put a comma in the wrong place, or accidentally spell sum wurd wronge. This is so trivial and tedious.

    It doesn't make you or your arguments seem better. It only makes you appear a conceited, pedantic, prig. How many langauges are you absolutely faultless in, in both speech and writing, exactly?

  • writerman

    Everyone has the right, and some would say duty to stand up for human rights, in this case the Palestinians, who are being attacked by a modern army and have no real means of defending themselves.

    In similar, though less blatant cases, Western politicians have called for something to be done, when a 'war' is deemed to be extraordinarily one-sided, but in relation to 'The Rape of Gaza' they are more or less silent. It's as if the Palestinians aren't even allowed to defend themselves, as if this is seen as a crime, which of course it isn't, it's their right as an occupied people.

    I was looking at a map today which showed Palestine in 1947 compared to today, what one sees is a complete reversal of the land areas occupied by both sides, yet Israel wants us to seriously believe that it's Israel that is 'threatened' and under attack. One really has to be credulous as hell to believe this rubbish.

    Israel invaded Gaza as part of a longterm strategy to destroy Palestinian society and force them out of what's left of their country, many would describe theis strategy as genocide and openly racist, and thus totally illegal, yet we support them with both money and weapons, which makes us complicit in warcrimes.

    Personally I believe this last terror onslaught on Gaza has shredded what little sympathy Israel had in the international community. It was truly shameful and barbaric act of agresssion and and attempt at collective punishment of an entire people. It's sad, but I don't think 'The Rape of Gaza' will ever be forgotten or forgiven, and that's probably how it should be.

  • writerman

    Thinking about that map again, what drives people barmy is the gross injustice of what's happened to the Palestinians. In a few decades they've become a minority in their own country, and the rest of them have been driven out into a life of exile as refugees.

    It's the historical parallel that I find interesting. Of all people, surely Jewish people should understand that being subject to a great injustice and being driven out of ones country, isn't something one forgets in a hurry or learns to accept. The very fact of the nature of the perceived injustice and the manner being displaced, becomes the identifying characteristic of the dispossed people, the core of their identity and culture. It can last for thousands of years, as Jews like few others understand.

    What's needed in the Israel/Palestine is a just settlement, before this entire conflict turns into not just a war about land, but into a war about religion and 'race.' The longer this goes on the worse it will get.

    Turning it into a religious war is definitely not in Israel's interests, simply because there are so many Muslims. But are we in the West being 'groomed' into taking sides in a coming religious, civilisational conflict, between the Judeo/Christian world and the Muslim world? Is this part of the Israeli religious/nationalist grand stragtegy? It's this dreadful scenario that reall worries me. Will are children and their children end up fighting and dying too?

  • Ruth

    Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack), and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.

  • eddie


    Wrong again, I criticised him because he made two false assertions. The grammatical mistakes, like yours, are a side issue. As for ad hominem attacks, assuming you know the meaning of the words, are you telling me that you have never made ad hominem assaults on Bush and Blair? I would suspect that even now you are sharpening your pencil to start on Obama.

    Thanks for asking, but I am fluent in English, and that is all I need here. As for standing up for the human rights of Palestinians, that would be funny if it were not so tragic. Hamas are rounding up and executing their Fatah opponents right now.

    "It's as if the Palestinians aren't even allowed to defend themselves, as if this is seen as a crime, which of course it isn't, it's their right as an occupied people".

    For your information Gaza was not occupied. The Israelis and their settlers had left, yet Hamas insisted on lobbing missiles at Israeli towns. The Palestinian people, (quite a different kettle of fish from Hamas), are as likely to blame Hamas for their woes as Israel now.

  • marco

    As a matter of fact, the Palestinians are as likely to blame the US for their woes as Israel. Perhaps Egypt as well.

  • writerman

    Bizarre. You seem to think that extreme actions carried out by Hamas against Fatah, means that Israel is somehow justified and exonerated from it's massive and blatant war-crimes. Not so.

    Palestine is occupied and controlled territory, Gaza is a part of Palestine, therefore it's people have right to resist occupation. Everyone knows this, except those who insist on ignoring reality.

    It's not as if Gaza wasn't subject to a vicious blokade, a seige, designed to crush the will of its people to resist. Palestinians died because of the seige and in far greater numbers than in these pathetic rocket attacks. Israel attacked Gaza with real missiles on several occassions during the cease-fire causing substantial loss of life. You simply refuse to acknowledge that Israel was guilty of acts of agression too, you put all the blame on Hamas. For a partisan supporter of Israel that's understandable, but that doesn't make it true.

    And where did the 'settlers' go from Gaza, they went to more illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank, or perhaps you want to deny that the West Bank is occupied too?

    And this idea that the people of Gaza will blame Hamas for crimes and massacres committed by Israel is absurd, there is absolutely no evidence for such an assertion, that is wishful thinking. For every dead Palestinian in Gaza a hundred or a thousand will become Israel's implacable enemies. Not a sensible strategy if Israel wants peace. But Israel doesn't want peace it wants all of Palestine and it doesn't care how it gets it.

  • writerman

    Being partly Jewish myself and proud of my heritage I find the political developments in Israel really disturbing.

    I think the country is heading for disaster, unless somehow the growing power of the religious and nationalist extremists can be broken. Israel's military might and ability to strike at will and destroy their enemies, usually far weaker than they are, is leading Israel in an unhealthy direction.

    Great military power needs to be used with great care, lest one becomes intoxicated with power. This is a very dangerous form of intoxication. Tie this to religious nationalism and things can only go wrong.

    This attack on Gaza, this rape, is arguably the greatest crime in the long list of crimes directed against the Palestinians, and there have been so many. Israel's leaders blend arrogance and ignorance to an extraordinary degree, couple this with the firepower of a modern army let loose on civilians

    and one has a nation which is degenerating into a savage and friendless monster, which risks gorging itself to death because of its own greed for land and power.

  • nobody

    I was just now reading of a Palestinian father describing how Israeli soldiers dragged the bleeding corpse of his young son to the top of a pile of rubble (that had minutes earlier been their house), and used the small body for target practice.

    Words fail me.

    But a thought occurs. If we're prepared to concede the rightness of aerial bombardment, why wouldn't we concede its rightness in the case of Israel? No one batted an eyelid when John McCain sung about bombing Iran. Well, between Iran and Israel, it's a lay-down misere. If any country ever deserved to be bombed back to the stone-age, Israel certainly does.

    Peace, love, and understanding, and all that, blah blah blah, but the kind of people who use child corpses as target practice are a little bit beyond that. The only peace they deserve is the variety that comes with 'RIP'.

  • writerman

    Militarism, coupled with religious nationalism, is an incredibly dangerous mix.

    The role of the hated occupier, and conquerer makes things worse.

    Massive military success over another people, miraculous victories, seems to give sustenance to virulent nationalism, chauvanism and ultemately racism.

    When one believes that one is exclusively good and that the enemy is absolutely evil, anything is possible, any abomination, andy crime. A process begins which gathers pace over time and eventually killing civilians on a massive scale becomes something almost casaul, something one can do with a shrug, almost without realising one has become a 'monster.'

    The Nazis who rampaged through the Ukraine and Poland, didn't start out as monsters capable of anything. They weren't born to kill, yet they became killers, experts at collective punishment of civilians.

    Given the right, or wrong circumstances, and an ideology based on hate, fear, supremacy and the right to conquer, soldiers are capable of any crime. It's wrong to think that the actions of the Nazis in wartime were totally unique. They were not. Give an army the ability to kill and destroy without restriction and they will.

    And Tzipi Livni talked at a press-conference in the United States about all the effort the Israeli army puts in to protecting civilians and not targetting them, how much restraint they'ed shown in Gaza!

    If 1500 deaths, mostly women and children, and thousands of wounded is Israel showing 'restraint' and respecting the rights of civilians, then the implicit threat and warning of what Israel could have chosen to unleashed on Gaza, if it had wanted to, truly beggars belief.

  • eddie


    Wrong yet again. Gaza is NOT "occupied and controlled" by Israel. Israel may control the borders and airspace but there are no Israeli troops in Gaza. I am not attempting to suggest a moral equivalence between IDF and Hamas, but if Hamas had not fired rockets there would have been no invasion. It's a simple equation. Many ordinary Palestinians recognise that and there have been plenty of press reports in recent days of Palestinians in Gaza attacking Hamas as much as Israel. Hamas garnered 42% in the election. Today, it would probably be a lot less.

  • nobody

    Now fair's fair. Eddie's right. The Warsaw Ghetto was not occupied and controlled by the Germans. Sorry, I meant to say Gaza and the Israelis. What was I thinking of?

    As for Hamas shooting those glorified fence palings over the border, he's right again. As usual Hamas played the victim (predictable as ever) and sought to justify the attacks on the grounds of the Germans (sorry! I meant the Israelis again) having sealed up the borders with the people of Gaza facing slow starvation. Typical whingers.

    We know they weren't starving because Dov Weisglass said so. "It's a diet" he joked. "The Palestinians will lose some weight, but they won't die from it." See! It was a joke! Trust those humourless Palestinians not to get it. Gits.

    Israeli humour works on so many levels. Firstly it's possessed of clear information ie. that the Palestinians wouldn't die (so obviously they didn't) and secondly, it speaks of Israeli compassion ie. their concern for Palestinian obesity, and thirdly it's as funny as hell! Laugh? I just about snorked pea and ham soup out my nose!

    Just to make things clear, why don't we put those precise words in the mouth of the German commander of the Warsaw Ghetto. Can you picture that? I can. And sure enough, I'll bet money that the Jews there could have shown those Palestinians a thing or two about getting a gag. They'd have been snorking pea and ham soup like crazy. But probably without the ham, now that I think about it. And quite right too.

  • eddie


    Not evil lies but facts. Gaza is NOT occupied. "Zionist terrorists" says more about your mindset than anything I could say.

  • Reason


    They are terrorists;

    They are zionists.

    Face the truth, eddie.

    As I said, it matters little whether the guards are inside or on the outside of the prison camp (Gaza) they are still "occupied and controlled".

  • Reason


    I see that you have omitted "controlled".

    It's good to see that you have conceded that Gaza IS controlled.

  • eddie

    Reason? More like unreason in the face of the facts.

    "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength" – seems to sum you up, pal.

  • writerman


    I am not ant-Jewish, far from it. For a number of reasons this would be impossible. I am not anti-Israel per se. Israel exists, it's a strong, well-functioning state, it has a vibrant culture and a thriving economy.

    History, is history. In many respects it's gone, in the past. In other respects it doesn't really exist, except in the present. Maybe a way forward would be to forget the past and look towards the future steadfastly. This would be very difficult, but not impossible, in fact it's essential. However, this would mean both peoples' agreeing to disagree and compromising in relation to their version of their common history.

    What's saddening is that either they find a wasy to live together in some kind of peace, somehow, or they will probably destroy each other, one way or another. For two peoples' who have so much in common culturally and historically, and are doomed to live togeter, this would be both criminal and stupid.

    My vision for peace would be Israel voluntarily moving back behind the 1967 borders and thereby pulling the rub away from under the feet of the 'extremist.' Israel would still have an incredibly strong military, an American protector guaranteeing its existance and two or three hundred atomic warheads, and as such Israel wouldn't be in danger of being pushed into the sea, or being pushed around. Israel would, at a stroke, re-gain the moral highground, and show that it had no 'imperialist' or 'colonialist' designs on Arab land

    This would also give the Palestinians a viable state and a future. Let's face it, it isn't in Israel's interests to 'create' an unviable Palestinian state on it's borders is it? A poor, unstable, group of reservations, full of angry and frustrated people who feel they have been robbed and unjustly treated and have developed a culture of resistance and revenge, almost all they have left, a dream, a fantasy, which is festering all over the Middle East.

    Israel could really flourish in the Middle East if it pursued a more realistic policy, based on trade rather than war. Israel could become even more successful if it chose to integrate into the region, rather than try to control it. An Israel at peace with its neighbours could become the engine of development that might drag the region forward in leaps and bounds.

    It isn't as if these endless wars really make Israel safer or work. Israel cannot rely on war to get peace. Did invading Lebanon really achieve anything of lasting value? Was Hezballah really defeated? What did Gaza achieve?

    I think the Israeli politicians invaded Gaza for cynical reasons, that had virtually nothing to do with these rockests, but everything to do with internal Israeli politics, and attempt by the ruling parties to appear strong and determined and undermine the opposition. But at high price in lives in Gaza, and dragging Israel deeper into the mud. Whether this will prove a sensible strategy is open to doubt, as the extreme right seem to be gaining ground, which ultimately means even more war.

  • eddie

    "My vision for peace would be Israel voluntarily moving back behind the 1967 borders and thereby pulling the rub away from under the feet of the 'extremist.' "

    Assuming you mean rug, I agree with you for once. I was moved by Obama's speech yesterday and although he did not specifically mention Israel it is to be hoped that he will apply pressure on the extreme elements in Israel and push them towards a two state solution. But hamas and other extremist groups on the other side have to reach a point where they also recognise a viable two state solution. Talk of a caliphate and "Palestine from the Jordan to the sea" etc will pour petrol on the flames. I hope this response does not surprise you too much.

  • writerman


    I wasn't surprised at all, because everybody who isn't totally blind, stupid or a fantasist, eaten by blind hatred and religious/nationalist zeal, knows how this conflict has to end.

    The Palesetinians and the Israelis have to find a way to live together and share the land in some way that's 'acceptable' to both sides.

    What disturbs me is that Israel is just too successful militarily compared to the Palestinians, so what 'incentive' would they have for sharing or real compromise? History doesn't seem to have many examples where a powerful and succesful people have voluntarily given up land they've conquered, unless they were forced to.

    This guy from Moldavia, Leiberman, how 'Jewish' is he really? He seems like an extremist of the far right to me. From what I've heard of him he's almost as angry and agressive in relation to 'liberal' Israelis as he is with Palestinians. I wouldn't like him to have his finger on Israel's nuclear arsenal!

    I was surprised when I began to examine what some, not all, elements of Hamas have said about Israel and peace, that's if one looks away from 'rhetoric' and their charter.

    As far as I can make out they have taticly accepted the basics of the Saudi peace plan that was proposed a couple of years ago. If Israel expressed willingness to accept the principles of this plan, which was agreed by nearly all the members of the Arab League, one could have 'peace' within a year. Hamas, which clearly is capable of threatening Israel militarily on the battlefield, would find it very difficult, if not impossible to back away, if Israel accepted the plan as well. They would be virtually totally isolated. Hamas representatives have even indicated that they might even be willing to moderate their demand of right of return for all the refugees.

    The elements of the Saudi plan are well known. Basically Israel returns to the 1967 borders in return for a comprehensive peace, full recognition that Israel exists and normalcy.

    What surprises me is why exactly Israeli politicians have rejected this plan almost out of hand?

1 2

Comments are closed.