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Issue 1849 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

Israel-flag bearers opposite encampment say boycott efforts discriminatory

Five students waved Israel flag in peaceful display next to pro-Palestinian encampment last Friday.

Flag-waving student on Queen's Lawn Photo: Tara Pal Chaudhuri for Felix


in Issue 1849

Five students stood opposite the pro-Palestinian encampment on Queen’s Lawn on Friday afternoon and waved the flag of the State of Israel, saying that they wanted to encourage an exchange of ideas on the conflict in Gaza.

They said that pro-Palestinian activists were discriminating by “singling out of the Jewish state for boycott” – a charge strongly rejected by protestors at Imperial.

A student who arrived at around 1:30pm waved a flag alone before being joined for support by four peers, one of whom wore the flag as a cape.

One of the flag bearers, a student at the Business School, said he was there for a “free exchange of ideas”. “If there is a Palestinian flag, there’s no reason there shouldn’t be an Israeli flag.”

He took issue with pro-Palestinian activists’ calls for the ‘exclusion’ of Zionists on campus.

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 the movement 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.

IC Action for Palestine, one of the groups responsible for the encampment, has called Zionism ‘a political movement that to this day employs policies of apartheid, occupation, ethnic cleansing, colonialism, and genocide.’ It has called for the ‘full exclusion of Zionists on campus.’

The flag-bearing student said that Zionism entailed “the belief of the Jewish people to have a state in their homeland of 3,000 years,” adding: “For many Jewish students, Zionism is Jewish nationalism, it’s the hope to be in our homeland, it’s the thing we pray about three times a day. There needs to be a sense that Jewish people feel comfortable on campus.

“This whole thing that Jewish students are welcome but not Zionists is ridiculous. For a Jew not to be a Zionist, you are cutting off parts of his identity.”

He added that the name given to the encampment at Imperial by its inhabitants – ‘Imperial College Liberated Zone’ – was “not the most comforting for a Jewish student”.

The student explained that he didn’t think the pro-Palestinian movement as a whole was antisemitic but felt the “singling out of the Jewish state for boycott” was “obviously antisemitic”.

Pro-Palestinian activists at Imperial have strongly rejected allegations of antisemitism. IC Action for Palestine has previously said ‘anti-racism’ is ‘at the heart’ of its movement and that ‘anyone of any faith or ethnicity’ is welcome to attend its events, provided they opposed ‘the slaughter currently being conducted in Gaza.’

On Friday, responding to the flag bearers in comments to Felix, a representative of IC Action for Palestine said: “Those of us who believe that all people can coexist are opposed to any ideology which seeks to segregate people [and conducts] huge amounts of political violence against them.”

Hamas attacked Israel on 7th October, killing 1,200 people and taking 252 others hostage, according to Israeli authorities. Since then, Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 35,000 people, according to Palestinian officials from the Hamas-run health ministry.

The flag-bearing Business-School student said that Israel’s response to Hamas’s 7th October attacks constituted a “completely just war” to destroy Hamas and recover hostages. “What happened on October 7th was the worst day in terms of number of Jews killed since the Holocaust.”

On Thursday afternoon, Imperial hand-delivered a notice to the encampment, outlining the terms that it expects them to comply with in their occupation of Queen’s Lawn.

The university says that campers must not cause ‘unreasonable disruption’ and that if they leave Queen’s Lawn, they will not be allowed to re-enter.

Since the encampment’s establishment, members have organised food and first aid, appointed dedicated media representatives, and held afternoon ‘teach-ins’ on the history of the region.

An encampment representative speaking on Friday afternoon said that they had not experienced or instigated any violent encounters with non-protestors. Those who stayed in tents overnight said that they were left to the site in peace.

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