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Palestine Statement from the UWSU Officer Team

The University of Westminster Students’ Union Officer team stands in solidarity with the Palestinian community and condemns the recent and ongoing violence by the Israeli state, that has been described by some leaders at the UN General Assembly as “ethnic cleansing” by the Israeli state. As the violence reached a peak in recent days, we feel it is important to raise awareness to the tensions as affirmed by the legal and Human Rights experts, academics and United Nations reports, the forcible removal of residents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood by Israeli police; the brutal attack of Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the increasing number of civilians casualties and deaths in Gaza.  We are glad to hear of the ceasefire but recognise that this is not a permanent solution to the ongoing crisis.

We recognise that our students want us – your officer team – to make a stance on our solidarity with Palestine. As an organization that represents the diverse student population at Westminster, we do not want to be silent and will advocate for the rights and freedom of our members. We feel it is important to educate our members of the conflict between Palestine and Israel and explain to our members the steps we wish to take as your officer team to play our part in wider student movement of anti-racist solidarity and activism. 

We stand by the NUS (National Union of Students) statement and call on the U.K. Government to act on clear violations of International Law by the Israeli state by reaffirming our support as a member institution of NUS for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) on the state of Israel. A BDS policy is a movement that works to end international support for Israel’s oppression on Palestine, and to pressure Israel to comply with international law. The University of Westminster currently has £9,845 worth of investment with companies who are complicit in Israeli violations of international law.  We acknowledge as your Union we have a role to play in reviewing our own investments and spending history and will look to create an ethical funding policy and review all organization we work with.  

The University of Westminster Students Union will look to take the following actions:  

1. The Officer team will take a policy to the next Student Council detailing an ethical investment policy for the Union to adopt. This will look to stop connections with companies that are complicit by investing in Israel.  

2. The Union will lobby the University to make a statement on its investments of student fees in companies that are complicit in supporting the Israeli state 

3. The Union will look to lobby NUS to consider their BDS policy over all areas of the organization; both in the Charity and the Commercial Trading Unit.  

4. The Union will lobby the University to endorse a definition of antisemitism, such as a definition under development by the Institute of Jewish Studies at UCL, which protects free speech regarding the debate whilst tackling discrimination and antisemitism.

5. The Union will adopt an Ethical funding policy. 

University of Westminster Students’ Union has a firm stance on hate speech and discrimination on campus. In conjunction with the University, a new reporting tool “Report and Support” has been developed to make it easier for you to report forms of unacceptable behaviour. You can report incidents of bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct, racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia, and all other forms of hate crime through this platform.

We condemn all forms of antisemitism on campus, and we encourage an open community where all our students feel safe and supported. Students can find out more by visiting the CST page about combating antisemitism.

We encourage that all students educate themselves on the context and history of issues in Palestinian, some helpful resources we have identified are:  

► History of Palestine: 

– Basic Facts on the Palestine Issue – MEMO (Middle East Monitor) 

– Palestine 101: Introduction to Palestine – Decolonize Palestine 

– Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2020 – Amnesty 

 Recent events in Palestine: 

– What is happening in occupied East Jerusalem’s Shiek Jarrah? - Al-Jazeera 

– Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently published report about Israel’s “Apartheid” crimes.  

Additional resources from “Solutions not Sides” are available, guiding secondary school teachers and students on discussing the crisis safely.

We hope that you stand by us and support our Palestinian community during these difficult times.

Your Officer team,

Lubaba Khalid, Fatma Zein, Olivia Ponsford, Ismahan Nur and Padamjeet Singh Mehta  

 

Please note: Any press enquiries about this statement should be made to the Head of Business Development and Communications, Sarah Parsons at s.parsons1@westminster.ac.uk or 07377587403