Oxford University faculty and staff endorse Gaza solidarity encampment

As of this morning, just over a week since the establishment of Oxford’s “Liberated Zone” for Gaza, over 500 members of faculty and staff at the University of Oxford have now pledged their support in writing for the solidarity encampment and its demands. More signatures are being added in support daily.

The overwhelming support from faculty and staff highlights the widespread feeling across the University that the Administration should engage with the encampment and meet its demands. These demands call on Oxford University to cut its existing financial and institutional ties to Israeli genocide, occupation and apartheid.

Among those pledging their support are professors from almost every department in the University, from Biology, History, Politics, Economics and Computer Science, to Law, Music, Anthropology, Geography, Philosophy, Physics and Chemistry. They are joined by librarians and archivists, by staff in computing, development, access and administration, and by keepers of the University’s collections.

In a joint statement, the signatories made clear their firm support for the encampment and its demands: “As members of faculty and staff of the University of Oxford, we stand firmly in support of the members of the university community who have begun an encampment outside the Pitt Rivers Museum to demand that the university divest from Israel’s genocide in Gaza, as well as from Israel’s ongoing apartheid regime against Palestinians and its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

They draw attention to the fact that the situation in Gaza is “catastrophic”, and that, “The International Court of Justice has characterised it as plausibly amounting to genocide.” The students’ demands, say the signatories, are “entirely reasonable given the University of Oxford’s commitment to global leadership in education and to furthering educational opportunities internationally.”

While acknowledging that the University has called for the release of the Israeli hostages and for an end to the ongoing violence in Gaza, “We further call for the release of Palestinians prisoners held under administrative detention in Israeli prisons, many of them arrested as children.”

The faculty and staff have called the camp “a public-facing global education project,” and have urged the University leadership to recognise this political expression as an opportunity for dialogue and engagement. Thus far, the University has refused to acknowledge Oxford Action for Palestine’s demands or reply to requests for meetings.

As Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pressures University Administrators to suppress campus dissent, the endorsement also underscores the growing role of academics across the UK in calling for an end to British support of Israel’s genocide, which has killed over 35,000 Palestinians and systematically destroyed essential civilian infrastructure.

“The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians has notified the University of Oxford — among over 80 British institutions — of possible complicity, through its investments, in Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people,” said Sneha Krishnan, Associate Professor in Human Geography at the University of Oxford. “With this in mind, I proudly join over 500 of my colleagues at Oxford to demand that the university disclose its investment, and divest from Israel’s genocide and occupation in Palestine.”

Associate Professor of Political Theory Sophie Smith explained that, “As the UN declares a famine in Northern Gaza, and the Israel Defence Forces continue their assaults on families they have already displaced to the South, I stand alongside over 500 colleagues from almost every department of the University to call on the Vice Chancellor to disclose the University’s investments, to divest from any corporation enabling Israel’s genocidal war and its illegal occupation, and to support Palestinians in Gaza as they rebuild their educational institutions, including their universities, each of which has been destroyed by Israeli bombs.”

Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) is a coalition of students, faculty, staff and other members of the University of Oxford community who are dedicated to the liberation of Palestine. On 6 May, OA4P established a Liberated Zone encampment in solidarity with Gaza, calling on the University to cut financial and institutional ties with Israeli genocide, occupation, and apartheid.

(Source: Middle East Monitor)