Oxford and Reading Trade Unions Stand in Solidarity with the Oxford Action for Palestine Encampment

17 May 2024

The Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) encampment was started by members of the University of Oxford's community on Monday 6th May. By this time, over 35,000 Palestinians of Gaza had been killed by Israel in the past seven months; all twelve universities in Gaza had been targeted and destroyed by Israel; an unprecedented number of journalists had been killed; Israel had systematically dismantled healthcare within Gaza; and two-thirds of all dwellings in Gaza had been destroyed. Meanwhile, Israel has placed a blockade on basic services and humanitarian assistance to Gaza. The ICJ determined in January that it is plausible that Israel's actions amount to a genocide of the Palestinians of Gaza.

It has been reported that the University of Oxford is among the top five UK universities in receiving funds from arms producing and military services companies, and that it has research collaborations with companies developing weapons and military technology. On 1st May, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) wrote to the University of Oxford and 81 other UK universities, alerting them of the potential risk of criminal liability over any investments held in both arms companies and Israeli settlements. Despite repeated calls, the University of Oxford has failed to disclose whether it has direct and/or indirect investments in companies that are complicit in the attack on Gaza, and has failed to acknowledge and condemn the systematic and complete destruction of higher education in Gaza, including the killing of over 5,000 students, 100 professors, and 3 principals.

OA4P are demanding that the University of Oxford discloses its investments, and divests from arms companies as well as any other organisations that profit from Israeli apartheid, occupation, or genocide. OA4P are also calling for an institutional boycott of Israeli universities while genocide, apartheid, or occupation continue, and that the University of Oxford provides support for a Palestinianled rebuilding of the twelve universities in Gaza destroyed by Israel.

These demands align with repeated calls from Palestinian trade unions to end all complicity and stop arming Israel. We support them and urge the University to take immediate actions to end any investment in, institutional relationships, or procurement contracts with companies and academic institutions funding and supplying weapons to the Israeli military or enabling Israel's violations of international law through the crimes of occupation, apartheid or genocide. We are also concerned by the Prime Minister's threatening language regarding these peaceful encampments, and condemn shallow political attempts to distract from the urgent onslaught taking place in Rafah - one that is being enabled by the UK government while most universities remain silent and complicit.

The trade union branches below extend our solidarity to OA4P, and call on their members to visit the encampment and support it in any way they can.

Oxford and District Trades Union Council
Reading Trades Union Council
University of Oxford UCU
Oxford Brookes University UCU
Oxford Brookes University UNISON
Oxfordshire NEU
Unite the Union, Oxford County Health Branch
Oxfordshire UNISON Health
TSSA North London (Network Rail)
Reading RMT
Oxford City Council UNISON
CWU South Central Postal
Unite South East SE/605
PCS Bucks and Oxon