The UCU branch at the Open University has adopted two powerfully worded motions affirming their condemnation of war crimes by Hamas and Israel, their support for an immediate ceasefire, and their solidarity with the Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli oppression for the past 75 years.

The 1st motion was passed at the 28th November OU branch meeting

MOTION 1 military conflict in gaza

This branch notes:

The escalating military conflict in Gaza accompanied by clear war crimes and an escalating humanitarian disaster.

This branch believes:

1. This situation is one where war crimes have already been committed by both Israel and Hamas

2. The current situation is accurately described by Amnesty International General Secretary, Agnès Callamard as follows “For 16 years, Israel’s illegal blockade has made Gaza the world’s biggest open-air prison – the international community must act now to prevent it becoming a giant graveyard.”

3. We condemn war crimes and the breaking of international law. This includes hostage-taking, the unlawful occupation of Palestinian territories, the killing of civilians in Israel and Palestine, systems of apartheid, and collective punishment. We also condemn antisemitism and islamophobia.

This branch therefore calls for:

1. An immediate unconditional ceasefire and a request for such from the UK government. In line with many other organisations, such as Save the Children, UCU has called for an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation. The branch supports this.

2. The OU UCU branch executive to promote forthcoming demonstrations of Palestinian solidarity to members and (where possible) mobilise for the OU UCU banner to be present.

3. Support for the appeal from academics at Birzeit University in Palestine (Do Not be Silent about Genocide | Birzeit University):“Birzeit University calls upon the international academic community, unions, and students to fulfil their intellectual and academic duty of seeking truth, maintaining a critical distance from state-sponsored propaganda, and to hold the perpetrators of genocide and those complicit with them accountable.”

4. Support for the petition by British Committee for the Universities of Palestine   Petition · To Stop the Killing We Must Right the Wrongs that Feed It ·

5. Promotion of The Commitment for Human Rights in Palestine

6. A significant donation to Medical Aid for Palestine

7. A significant Donation to Standing Together, a grassroots movement mobilizing Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in pursuit of peace, equality, and social and climate justice.

8. A branch donation to each of the four twinning associations between UK and Palestinian cities (Dundee/Nablus, Hounslow/Ramallah, Oxford/Ramallah, Glasgow/Bethlehem). These promote education and cultural understanding.

9. A commitment to continue to support academic freedom on these issues. For example, support for Palestine and Palestinians should not be conflated with support for Hamas; condemnation of actions taken by the Israeli government should not be conflated with antisemitism.

10. A Call for volunteers for a working group to explore what links the OU might have with companies linked to the arms trade.

11. Write to national UCU calling on the UCU leadership to support the calls issued by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions to stop arming Israel, to communicate this support to the Federation and to exercise our union’s position within the TUC to strengthen support for these demands among fellow trade unions.

Proposed by: Mark Kirby and seconded by: Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann

The 2nd motion below was passed at the 18th December OU branch meeting

MOTIONS – MOTION 2 – Motion on Palestine

This branch notes:

  1. Many in our community will be affected by the recent events in Palestine and Israel and we need to extend our support to all of them, especially to those students and colleagues who may have lost loved ones or whose loved ones are under direct threat of attack.
  2. The Israeli state has declared a “complete siege” of Gaza with “no electricity, no food, no fuel”.
  3. Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant smeared the Palestinians as “human animals” on Monday, 8 October, when he made the announcement.
  4. Gaza is already the world’s largest open-air prison, with 2.3 million people are penned into an area the size of the Isle of Wight. Half the population of Gaza are children.
  5. The Israeli apartheid regime is implementing collective punishment on the inhabitants of Gaza and this comes in the context of decades of colonialism and escalating Israeli violence in Gaza, the West Bank and around the Al Aqsa holy mosque.
  6. Many thousands of Palestinians have died in the indiscriminate bombing in Gaza including thousands of children.
  7. The urgent call for solidarity from the Palestinian trade unions on October 16. They say: “Palestinian trade unions call on our counterparts internationally and all people of conscience to end all forms of complicity with Israel’s crimes.”
  8. The call further states: “Israel has demanded that 1.1 million Palestinians evacuate the northern half of Gaza, whilst subjecting them to constant bombardment. This ruthless move is part of Israel’s plan, backed by unwavering support and active participation from the US and majority of European states, to carry out unprecedented and heinous massacres against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza and to ethnically cleanse it altogether.”
  9. The Israeli state receives political and military support from the British government to carry out this project.
  10. UCU Congress 2021 passed a resolution condemning the Israeli state’s apartheid and colonial settler policies against the Palestinian people, including siege and bombardment of Gaza, seizure of Palestinian land, and policies and actions encouraging racist violence and ethnic cleansing.
  11. A recent report by BRISMES (British Society for Middle Eastern Studies) documented dozens of cases where pro-Palestinian voices have been silenced or stifled as a result of unfounded accusations of antisemitism.

This branch believes:

  1. Israel was formed through the ethnic cleansing of almost one million Palestinians in 1948, known as the “Nakba” or catastrophe.
  2. Israel occupied what remained of Palestinian land in 1967 and continues ethnic cleansing and annexation to the present in violation of international law.
  3. We have a duty to respond to the call for solidarity from the Palestinian unions and campaign to end the complicity of our government in these crimes including political cover to carry out war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as allowing arms sales and direct military support from British naval ships.

This branch resolves:

  1. To stand in unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.
  2. To support a ceasefire in the region, and the immediate implementation of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.
  3. To support an end to the British government’s provision of arms in any form in support of Israel’s illegal control over occupied territories, and we want the withdrawal of Royal Naval ships deployed to support an Israeli offensive against Gaza and surrounding areas.
  4. To support local and national protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
  5. To support campaigns against attempts by the British government to restrict rights to free expression and protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
  6. To support the rights of students and staff to express their solidarity with the people of Palestine and to comment on Palestine on social media and in academic work without fear of personal or professional sanctions.
  7. Send a donation to Medical Aid for Palestine.

Proposed by: Julia Chukwuma and seconded by: Lorena Lombardozzi