British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP)

 Palestine: Memory, Identity, Resistance

BRICUP Seminar Series 2023-4

All seminars are on-line events, and take place at 18.00-19.30 London time. They consist of a presentation by the guest lecturer, an exchange with a discussant, and then questions and contributions. All participants are expected to read a short extract of the relevant text in advance, around which the discussion will revolve. Advance registration is necessary.

The Backlash Against Solidarity                                                       Dr. Hil Aked

 Thursday 8th February 2024

18.00-19.30 (GMT)

19:00 CEST Europe; 20:00 in Palestine;

13:00 EST & 10:00 PST in USA

Since 7th Oct 2023, the assault on Palestine advocacy in UK Higher Education has intensified. As popular disgust and outrage intensifies over Israel’s genocidal bombardment and population transfers in the Gaza Strip, UK Government supporters of Israel, and university Vice-Chancellors who are keen to avoid criticism, have moved in the opposite direction.

Students and staff have found themselves suspended and disciplined for social media posts, distinguished visiting professors have had their lectures cancelled, and scholarly discussions on Israel’s behaviour have been banned, with some Ministers even seeking to outlaw slogans and the Palestinian flag. With the ICJ’s ruling on Gaza, and the ongoing popular mobilisation in support of Palestine, this attempted suppression of protest and dissent is set to worsen. 

This drive to silence campus voices that are raised in support of Palestinian liberation, and against Israeli apartheid, is not new. Its intensification long predates the current events, provoked by BDS campaigns since 2002 and by the adoption of BDS as union policy by the UCU in 2012 . 

Hil Aked’s Friends of Israel documents the strategy for Israel’s defence – from the unsuccessful ‘Stand With Us’ campaign, through the sponsorship of Israel Studies courses and research centres (designed to marginalise the issue of Palestine and Palestinians in academic discourse), and the formation of the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX), to the silencing of criticism via the Prevent strategy and conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism through adoption of the discredited IHRA definition. Aked sets this campus conflict in the context of Israel’s global propaganda programme, its political lobbying, its influence on the UK’s mass media, and its use of legal threats against its critics.

Hil Aked (they/them) is a writer, investigative researcher and activist with a background in political sociology whose work has appeared in The GuardianIndependentSky News and Al Jazeera, as well as volumes from Pluto Press and Zed Books/Bloomsbury. Their first book Friends of Israel: The Backlash Against Palestine Solidarity was published by Verso in 2023.