University of Portsmouth Students’ Union to stand up in solidarity with Palestine

Petition submitted by Elliott Lee on 20th May 2021

For the students’ Union to stand up against the oppression of Palestine. Oppose the Human Rights Violations, hold an official stance against the atrocities occurring and lobby the university to end its dealings and involvement with the arms trade.

Petition Breakdown

Concerning the violence that has been occurring in Palestine carried out by the state of Israel we are petitioning for the University Of Portsmouth Students’ Union to take the required action. We propose that the Students Union makes its official stance on the matter clear in line with its social responsibility to stand for democracy, peace and human rights.

To note the atrocities that have most prominently appeared in the news in the past weeks is not new. The history here is complex, however, what is clear is are the human rights abuses of Israel’s apartheid regime.

To give some historical context On its foundation in 1948 the new state of Israel passed laws that prevented over 750,000 dispossessed Palestinians from returning to their homes and land following the Arab-Israeli war, whilst allowing Jews from around the world to migrate to the state of Israel as citizens. To this day, Israel has prevented these refugees and their descendants from exercising the legally enshrined right to return to their homes and land.

The Palestinian citizens of Israel make up 20% of Israel’s population and face more than 60 laws that discriminate against them due to their Palestinian descent.

Israel operates a regime of systematic racial discrimination against all parts of the Palestinian population.

Most recently evictions that are happening in Sheikh Jarrah that are an international violation of human rights according to the UN: "In many cases in East Jerusalem, including in Sheikh Jarrah, the forced eviction of Palestinians is occurring within the context of Israeli settlement construction and expansion, illegal under international humanitarian law. Some of these are based on pre-1948 claims, while Palestine refugees are discriminatorily banned from reclaiming their properties/homes lost in West Jerusalem in 1948. However, under international law, an occupying power is obligated to respect the laws in force of the occupied territory, unless absolutely prevented. Claims brought by Israeli settler organisations following Israel’s occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem, are disputed."

This is just one example of tensions in the Palestine-Israeli region, not yet mentioning the Damascus Gates and the Al-Aqsa Mosque situations.

A ceasefire may have been agreed to but this does not change the atrocities that have occurred and do not stop future similar violations from taking place. To date, at least 232 people in Gaza have been killed, including 64 children, and 1,620 have been wounded. You may be familiar with the images of tower blocks being toppled by airstrikes, families' lives and futures destroyed in front of their eyes. Israeli airstrikes have targeted schools, hospitals and offices housing the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera.

How can we tolerate this as an institution?

With all this said we are asking the University Of Portsmouth Students’ Union to take the following actions:

1)

Make your stance clear and official on the situation. Specifically making clear the Union’s opposition to the human rights abuses taking place.

Take a clear ethical stance to not continue or enter into dealings, whether they be financial or of other value, with organisations involved in the oppression of peace, democracy and human rights. These may include but are not limited to the financial, technological or arms sectors.

2)

In its social responsibility, we are also asking the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union to lobby the University Of Portsmouth to end and not continue or enter into dealings, whether they be financial or of other value, with organisations involved in the oppression of peace, democracy and human rights. These may include but are not limited to the financial, technological or arms sectors.

In 2020, it was found by The Palestine Solidarity Campaign that over 100 UK universities invest in Israeli companies linked to violations of international law. It saddens me to know that our university is one of these.

A Freedom Of Information (FOI) request carried out earlier this year revealed that the university has received £1,406,724 in research funding between 2011 and 2020 from BAE Systems. BAE Systems is the world’s fourth-largest arms producer. Its portfolio includes fighter aircraft, warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, missiles and small arms ammunition. It has military customers in over 100 countries. Older FOI requests have also shown evidence of further dealings with financial institutions also in the millions. There is also evidence to suggest that the university uses a trust fund for a number of its investments of which its accounts are not publicly available.

We ask that the Union lobbies against and pushes the University to make its investments public so that the University can be held accountable.

As an educational institution that has a duty to safeguard all individuals that exchange with your institution, and to uphold a standard of protection not only directly within the institution, but with the impact of the institution on both the local and global community. The reality is concerning. To give one example, the Norwegian Refugee Council has confirmed that 11 children who have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza were participating in its psycho-social programme aimed at helping them deal with trauma from conflict. We heavily believe this goes against the university's commitments to mental health and wellbeing.

We believe that the union holds a severe moral obligation to complete the proposed actions. Not just for the purposes of the conflict happening today but to safeguard the lives of the many through future ethical policy.


Petition Updates

System Update
2021-06-03 22:14:07

Minimum backers needed reached

This idea has reached the minimum backers needed for it to be reviewed.

System Update
2021-05-20 22:13:07

Now looking for Backers

The petition is now looking for 15 Backers

Petition Actioned

This idea has been passed by the Union Actioning Body and an idea champion has been assigned. Progress will be reviewed at the next UAB meeting.

Next meeting date: Student Council (2021-06-16)

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