Palestine Solidarity – emergency protest at Leeds University, Weds 24th Feb, 5.45pm

Solidarity with Palestine – emergency protest at the invitation to invite a spokesman from the Israeli Embassy by the POLIS society Leeds University

Wednesday 24 February, Meet 5.45pm, Parkinson Steps, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds University

Details below:

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

Israeli Official Invited to Speak on Campus: Rigged Debate and Ignoring of Palestinian Calls for Solidarity

On Feb. 24, Polis Society is holding a so-called ‘debate’ This house supports the Iran nuclear deal , which the head spokesperson of the Israeli embassy in the UK, Yiftah Curiel, is invited to speak against. The ‘debate’ is a stitch-up: audience questions are all pre-vetted, and no corresponding invitation has been given to a similarly well-briefed (or well-funded) senior figure to propose the motion: proponents are being sought via a last-minute call on the event facebook page, ensuring that the Israeli government position (which is contrary to that of the British government and international community) will not face any serious challenge. Inviting Israeli officials to speak on university campuses is also in violation of the Palestinian call for international civil society to implement boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel.

The call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), issued in 2005, aims to isolate Israel until it recognizes Palestinian rights to self-determination and abides by international law, including ending the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, respecting the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, and granting equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. It is a form of non-violent resistance against a backdrop of a failed peace process and the impunity that Israel enjoys for its continuing violations of international law.

Since 2004, increasing numbers of associations, unions and individuals worldwide have endorsed the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, including universities and student unions. In the UK alone, in 2015, students and staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, voted overwhelmingly to endorse BDS, to include suspending ties with Israeli universities; more than 300 academics, including several at Leeds, signed a public statement pledging to boycott Israeli universities; and the NUS Executive Committee, Black Students Campaign, Women’s Conference and Postgraduate Conference, as well as tens of individual student unions, have all voted to support BDS in recent years.

While debates in general are indispensable for rationally and logically debunking the other side’s propaganda and exposing their defence of indefensible violations of international law, debating Israeli officials, including official spokespeople, does more harm than good to the struggle for Palestinian rights. The BDS movement aims to isolate Israel and challenge the legitimacy of its regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid. That isolation entails practical manifestations such as protesting against the visit of Israeli officials and challenging the ability of Israeli officials to use academic institutions and spaces to defend Israel’s regime of oppression.

Dr. Elisabetta Adami Linguistics and Phonetics

Prof. Paul Blackledge Leeds Beckett University

Prof. Ray Bush POLIS

Dr. Patricia Carbo Faculty of Environment

Prof. James Dickins Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Dr. Ruba Khamam Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Prof. Malcolm Povey Food Science and Nutrition

Dr. Rasha Soliman Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Dr. Paul Waley School of Geography

Prof. Janet Watson Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

Dr Jörg Wiegratz POLIS

Dr. Mette Wiggen POLIS

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