Update: Organisers cancel Balfour Celebrations at the University of Manchester – Protest goes ahead from the University at 5.30pm towards the new location.

The organisers have cancelled the Balfour “celebrations” event at the University of Manchester and relocated to another venue in Manchester. Although this is a great victory for our campaign, the university itself did not cancel it and was from the beginning happy to host this celebration having had communications with the Israeli embassy. There has been increasing conditions imposed on Palestinian student activists and the University’s connections and investments in the Israeli arms trade remain to this day. It was the targeted campaign and pressure from students and concerned individuals that managed to drive the Balfour celebrations off campus. Therefore we will begin the protest at the University of Manchester – Whitworth Hall at 5.30pm and proceed to march to the new location. We ask you to share this and most importantly bring as many people as you can Tuesday 31st October at 5:30pm, Whitworth Hall, Oxford Road, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, M13 9PL


UoM BDS Campaign

Manchester Palestine Action

Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine

Palestinian community in Manchester

Manchester Fight Racism Fight Imperialism!

Alumni letter to Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University, ahead of planned Balfour celebrations

Dear Dame Nancy Rothwell

I write as a graduate of Manchester University (1985-88) and as a British Jew to express my disappointment that the University is willing to hire out its facilities for a celebration to mark the Balfour anniversary this coming Tuesday (31st October) .

I fully appreciate the strong historical connections between Manchester University and the Balfour Declaration through the work of Chaim Weizmann who taught in the Chemistry department at Manchester in the years leading up to Balfour. I’m also aware that the city itself has a strong Zionist tradition typified at the time by support from the Manchester Guardian. So it does not surprise me that an approach was made to hold a significant celebration in the University buildings this week by the Israeli Embassy and the Zionist Federation.

However, the University authorities should also have been aware and mindful that the historical consequences of the Balfour Declaration were a catastrophe for the Palestinian people. In fact Balfour is still not ‘history’ it is very much current affairs. Go to Israel/Palestine today and it is clear to see that Balfour is very much “unfinished business” as an official from the UK’s Mission to the United Nations recently tweeted.

To accept the booking for the event has caused great anger and upset from Palestinian and other Arab students studying in Manchester today, and, as you will know, the news of this has been reported nationally and internationally.

It is too late for you to cancel this booking now and in some ways this has become a good thing. Your action has prompted a counter reaction organised by your own students and Tuesday night will see a demonstration against Balfour which will receive media attention around the world. It will highlight to the British public Britain’s complicity in an on-going tragedy and explain why celebrations of this kind are entirely inappropriate.

As for making some recompense for your original decision to let the event go ahead, I suggest the University organises a conference on Israel/Palestine next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (‘catastrophe’).

Yours sincerely

Robert Cohen, BA Hons Politics & Philosophy 1988


Open Letter from student societies demanding the University cancel the Balfour ‘celebrations’

Dear Professor Nancy Rothwell

It has come to our attention that the University of Manchester plans to host an event co-organised by the Israeli embassy and the Zionist Federation, to celebrate 100 years since the Balfour Declaration on Tuesday 31st October at 7.30pm. By agreeing to this, is the University oblivious that the event you will be hosting, will celebrate the Declaration that lead to the expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and the destruction of over 400 villages during al-Nakba in 1948?

Is the University unaware that the Balfour Declaration ultimately led to massacres of innocent people, and the ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza for 50 years?

This perverse celebration compounds the University of Manchester’s existing institutional and investment links with Israeli institutions complicit in war crimes.

Only a few weeks ago, an investigation by the Guardian exposed how the University censored student-organised Palestinian solidarity events after meeting with the Israeli embassy. Now, news of this event makes clear that the University is more committed to continuing its relationship with the embassy of a repressive state than it is to accountability and duty of care to its own students, faculty and staff.

Britain’s colonial occupation of Palestine since the First World War was not a benign intervention. Not only was it violent and unwelcome, the British 1917 Balfour Declaration was the green light for those seeking an Israeli state to plan for the forced removal of the indigenous Palestinian population. During British rule, Ben Gurion, the future first Israeli Prime Minister, said in 1937 “We must expel the Arabs and take their place”. In 1947-48 this was carried out in a well-planned ethnic cleansing operation that involved mass expulsion, murder and imprisonment, and the destruction of hundreds of villages.

This is now well documented by Israeli historians and soldiers from the time, as well as the Palestinians, many of whom still have the keys to their homes but for decades since have been denied their right to return.

Celebrating the Balfour declaration is a mockery of the suffering of the Palestinian people, and is greatly disrespectful for Palestinian students at the university who have, alongside their families, been forced to live their entire lives under the boot of the Israeli army.  Would you not consider for a second listening to Palestinian students’ experiences as they relay a life of having their university bombed by Israeli F16s, losing university class mates to Israeli snipers or having their whole house demolished to be expelled for not being the desired ethnic group by Israel leaders? This celebration of their loss illustrates the appalling double standards and disdain the University is showing towards Palestinian students and Israel’s abominable treatment of them.

Given that there will be so many at this event who have served in the Israeli army that violently dominates every living moment of Palestinian students’ lives, it is obvious the environment created by this event is unsafe for Palestinian students, many of whom have suffered directly at the hands of the Israeli security services. A large number of students have expressed fear for their safety with Israeli security personnel roaming our campus. By allowing this event to take place and hosting the Israeli embassy, the university is failing to uphold its basic duty of care to staff and students.

The implications are doubly grave both for Palestinians studying now at the University and to the idea that universities should not be a place for celebrating colonialism and racism.

We demand that the University of Manchester cancel the event at the earliest opportunity.

UoM Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign
UoM Action Palestine
UoM Arab Society
UoM Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
UoM Sri Lankan Society
BME MCR (the campaign for Black and Minority Ethnic students at the University of Manchester)
UoM Marxist Society
UoM Tamil Society
UoM Islamic Society



PROTEST: Apartheid Off Campus!

The University of Manchester has been colluding with the Israeli embassy over events ran by the student BDS campaign. A British university should not be engaging in such discussions with any Foreign government, especially Israel.

Guardian article: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/29/manchester-university-censors-title-holocaust-survivor-speech-criticising-israel

MiddleEast Monitor article:

The Tab:

Many students at the university of Manchester are of Palestinian origin, and such meetings with the Israeli embassy over a campaign in support of Palestinian human rights is a mockery of the suffering Palestinians have faced under Israel’s apartheid regime and violates all ‘social responsibility’ ethics preached by the University of Manchester.

Our campaign demands the university end all ties to Israel’s apartheid regime, which includes their investments in companies such as Caterpillar. Caterpillar continues to supply armoured bulldozers specifically for the Israeli army, used to demolish Palestinian homes.

Israel has been systematically ethnically cleansing the Palestinians for almost seven decades, while imposing a regime of apartheid to separate and subjugate those Palestinians that remain. Anti-Apartheid hero and Nobel Peace prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been to Palestine and described it in parts as “worse” than Apartheid South Africa, calling for similar Boycott Divestment and Sanctions that helped end it. Palestinian citizens within Israel face more than 50 laws which discriminate against them. Israel has continued to hold Palestinian civilians in Gaza under a blockade for over a decade, restricting the population from basic goods, clean water and electricity. In their last attack on Gaza, which targeted civilian infrastructure, over 2000 Palestinians, including over 500 children were murdered. Israel continues to commit war crimes, which also include the constant demolition of Palestinian homes within Palestinian territory, to expand their illegal Israeli settlements.

Yet, our university remains deeply linked to Israel’s continuing crimes against humanity through their investment and institutional links.

Join us on October 4th, as the University of Manchester board of governors meets, to demand that the University end all links with Israel’s war crimes including divestment from companies that are complicit in human rights abuses!

Stand for justice and join us at the #ApartheidOffCampus protest.

FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1755457381414735/