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Issue 1848 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

JSoc ‘appalled’ after rally speaker accuses PM of lying about Jewish students’ safety on campuses

“Rishi Sunak says campuses are not safe for Jewish students – that’s a lie,” said a speaker addressing activists at a rally on Queen’s Lawn last Wednesday.

Meeting with Sunak Photo: Union of Jewish Students


in Issue 1848

A representative of Imperial Jewish Society (JSoc) said they were ‘appalled’ after a speaker at last week’s Queen’s Lawn Palestine protest accused Rishi Sunak of lying about the safety of university campuses for Jewish students.

“Rishi Sunak says campuses are not safe for Jewish students – that’s a lie,” said the speaker, addressing activists at the rally on Queen’s Lawn last Wednesday.

The JSoc representative said: ‘It is absolutely astonishing that this protestor feels that he is authorised, or that it is remotely appropriate for him to comment on the safety and experience of the Jewish community.

‘Would he ever make those comments on behalf of any other ethnic or minority group?’

Responding to the comments, IC Action for Palestine, the group that organised the rally, said it was ‘in regular contact with campus security’ and had ‘received zero complaints of anyone being targeted on the basis of religion or ethnicity’ – from ‘any individuals, or the university administration’.

IC Action for Palestine added that ‘anti-racism’ was ‘at the heart of this movement’ and that ‘anyone of any faith or ethnicity’ was welcome to attend its events, provided they opposed ‘the slaughter currently being conducted in Gaza.’

Ahead of a meeting with university vice-chancellors, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that ‘a small minority’ on UK university campuses were ‘disrupting the lives and studies of their fellow students and, in some cases, propagating outright harassment and antisemitic abuse.’

Sunak and the vice-chancellors heard from Edward Isaacs, president of the Union of Jewish Students, who said there had been an “unprecedented rise in campus antisemitism” since Hamas’s 7th October attacks last year. Imperial President Hugh Brady was not present.

In addition to the rally speaker’s comments, the Imperial JSoc representative accused activists at Imperial of using ‘vile slogans and genocidal chants, calling for an intifada and pushing for the exclusion of Zionists on campus.’

At Wednesday’s rally, protestors chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” referring to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Palestinian activists say that the slogan calls for Palestinian freedom and equality of all people in the region, but some Jewish people have interpreted it as a coded call for the destruction of Israel.

IC Action for Palestine said it rejected ‘the ongoing slander of our slogans,’ which were ‘for a Free Palestine,’ but that it was ‘always open to discuss [their] meaning.’

A spokesperson for the group said: ‘There is no acceptable articulation of Palestinian freedom to those who would deny it, and we proudly use chants which reflect the long history and unique political character the Palestinian Liberation struggle that has survived decades of time and segregation by colonial borders.’

The spokesperson called Zionism ‘a political movement that to this day employs policies of apartheid, occupation, ethnic cleansing, colonialism, and genocide,’ and said that IC Action for Palestine sought ‘the full exclusion of Zionists from our university.’

‘It is our duty to reject it access to the considerable finances, talent, research facilities, and institutional legitimacy it currently takes from our university. I ask anyone to look at a picture of Gaza and decide for themselves what relationship our university should have with the architects of that description.’

Zionism is a movement that advocates the right of Jewish people to self-determination, and supports the development and protection of the State of Israel.

Critics of Zionism cite Israel’s occupation of the West Bank – where it has been accused of violating international human rights law – and its actions in the Gaza Strip following Hamas’s attacks on the state last year.

Israeli authorities say that around 1,200 people were killed in attacks by Hamas on 7th October, and 252 others taken hostage.

Since then, over 35,000 people have been killed in Israel’s retaliatory attacks on Gaza, according to Palestinian officials from Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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