Oxford Students in Solidarity with Gaza Welcome the Official Statement issued by the University’s Senior Proctor
28 January 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Students involved in the occupation of the University of Oxford’s historic Clarendon Building in solidarity with the occupied Palestinian people in Gaza welcome the statement of the Senior Proctor of the University of Oxford issued on January 28, 2009. We moreover recognise and appreciate the Senior Proctor’s effort in initiating a process of fruitful engagement within our academic community.
The Proctor’s statement expressed “concern for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza” and stated that “it is regrettable that many civilian casualties occurred in educational institutions.” In response to our demand that scholarships be created in Oxford for Palestinian students who have suffered from the wide-scale destruction inflicted on Palestinian universities and educational institutions as a result of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, the statement welcomed efforts to create scholarships for Palestinian students at Oxford “to help lessen some of the obstacles to education that now prevail.” In light of our demand that aid to be provided to Palestinian universities, the Senior Proctor also declared that “there is also agreement that help might be offered to restore the damaged educational infrastructure, as it would elsewhere, by making available surplus books, journals and other educational materials and resources.” The Proctor moreover noted that he has “received representations from academic colleagues who have volunteered their time to help teach in Gaza and help during the restoration of university facilities there.”
With regards to our demand that the University divest from BAE and other weapons manufacturers who provide arms to Israel, the Senior Proctor announced his decision to raise in the University’s Council “the concerns regarding possible University investments in arms manufacturers and ask whether the University’s policy of socially responsible investment is being adhered to.” One of our central demands was that Balliol College cancel ‘the Peace Lectures as Inaugurated by Shimon Peres,’ due to Shimon Peres’ shameful historic record as the father of Israeli nuclear program and as a warmonger and defender of the latest Israeli aggression in Occupied Palestine. The Senior Proctor announced in his statement that he has “written to the Master of Balliol drawing his attention to the protestors’ concerns about the proposed title of the lecture series inaugurated by Shimon Peres.”
Amy Gilligan states “whereas we welcome the Senior Proctor’s statement and view it as a positive step in upholding the University’s commitment to universal human rights, it is our view that the University should take a stronger stance condemning the horrendous attacks on Palestinian students and educational institutions. We moreover insist that the promised steps be pursued and applied in full.” James Norrie further notes that “we insist on our demand that Balliol College immediately cancel the ‘Lectures Inaugurated by Shimon Peres.’ These tarnish the College’s reputation and render it complicit in the illegal actions of the Apartheid Israeli state of which Peres is a leader and a symbol.” Honour Brabazon declares: “as well as in Oxford, victories have been achieved in SOAS, LSE and Sussex. Similar occupations are ongoing in numerous other universities including Cambridge, King’s, Warwick and Queen Mary’s. This reflects the solidarity of UK academic communities with the occupied Palestinian people.” Oxford students will be deliberating further responses in a meeting to be held tonight.
Juliette Harkin +44 (0) 774081-8376
Omar Al Shehabi +44 (0) 796657-0155