Oxford ACS Statement of Support for OA4P’S Liberated Zone in Solidarity With Gaza

26 May 2024

The Oxford African-Caribbean Society (OACS) unequivocally stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle against Israel's 76-year colonial project. We believe that Israel's establishment is rooted in a white supremacist and imperialist ideology aimed at dispossessing indigenous populations of their land.

The Palestinian cause resonates deeply with the OACS, as our own countries have historically battled against similar ideologies in their struggles for independence. The OACS therefore condemns the brutal violence and systematic destruction committed by Israel, which according to the International Court of Justice is evidence of a 'plausible genocide' (see source link in bio). There can be no speculation that war crimes are being committed against the people of Palestine. The extensive cross-border activity observed was proof enough for the ICC to unequivocally state that there are crimes of starvation being perpetrated, spurring an application for arrest warrants against Israeli officials.

The attack on October 7th marked the beginning of a period of heightened media coverage and global attention, but it was not on this date that the oppression of the Palestinian people began. Those events occurred following 70 years of the violent occupation of Palestine. The Balfour declaration, pledged by Britain in 1917, was one of the main catalysts of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. The mandate system set up by the allied powers resulted in the displacement of the Palestinian people to establish a Jewish "national home" and facilitated the immigration of European Jews to Palestine. In a separate treaty, the Sykes-Picot agreement was pledged that meant that Palestine would come under British occupation. The allied power's control of the Middle East paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the beginning of decades of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

The current Gaza offensive must be understood in the broader context of Israel's apartheid system and the second-class treatment of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. The University of Oxford has significantly supported Israel's colonial project by failing to divest from its settler colonialism. Oxford's historical complicity with colonialism is clear, with alumni having played crucial roles in global colonialist and imperialist ventures.

While the University has called for the release of hostages and an end to the violence in Gaza, it has conspicuously failed to call for an end to the 76-yearlong occupation of Palestine or the release of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are minors. Just a week ago, CNN reported on Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli concentration camps in the Negev desert, many requiring amputation due to 'injuries sustained during handcuffing' (see source link in bio).

As we mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, it is crucial to highlight Oxford's enduring ties with the settler colonial state of Israel. We, as Africans and Caribbeans, many from former colonies, are compelled to stand against any form of injustice. As Malcolm X poignantly stated, "We need a free Palestine... We don't need a divided Palestine. We need a whole Palestine" (1965, speech in Detroit).

There are striking parallels between the Palestinian struggle and the Algerian fight for liberation, as well as the resistance of many of our own countries against colonisation. The disproportionate aggression by Israel against the Palestinian people mirrors colonial tactics seen repeatedly throughout history, such as the French massacre of Algerians in Sétif and the apartheid government of South Africa's mass killing of civilians following the Soweto uprising.

We remain committed to supporting the demands of the Palestinian people despite violent responses, as history has shown that "repression, far from calling a halt to the forward rush of national consciousness, urges it on" (Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth). Fanon's words resonate profoundly today as we witness the growing Palestinian consciousness, with students and faculty from universities worldwide, across different backgrounds and religions, raising their voices. The OACS stands in absolute solidarity with their demands. As Malcolm X noted, "The problem that exists in Palestine is not a religious problem... It is a question of colonialism. It is a question of a people who are being deprived of their homeland" (1964, speech in Cairo).

The OACS demands unwavering leadership that champions human rights. We reject the notion of complicity through silence, being mindful to avoid alignment with one of the great injustices of our time. We call upon Oxford to demonstrate leadership. In this pivotal moment, Oxford, as a global beacon of education, cannot afford passivity.

Our duty to oppose the devastation of Gaza is especially urgent given the complete eradication of its education sector. While we enjoy the privilege of studying at one of the world's most prestigious institutions, we must recognise the stark reality that this same right is denied to Palestinians. The UN has stated that it is a "systemic obliteration" of all higher education institutions, over 5,480 students, 95 professors and 3 university presidents have been killed (see source link in bio). Israel's systematic destruction of educational infrastructure has severely hindered Gaza's capacity to empower its people against continuous aggression. The deprivation of education has stripped Gaza of the means to rebuild, resulting in perpetual instability..

We, the OACS, support the Gaza encampments in Oxford, established by students who recognise Oxford's complicity and the historical strength of student opposition to such travesties. We support Oxford Action for Palestine in their pursuit of dismantling the University's complicity and woeful approach to this genocide and condemn the use of police action and state violence in the strongest possible terms.

The Oxford African and Caribbean Society