Right, so… since last Wednesday there has been a lot of things going on in Cambridge related to the Middle East. There was a talk on Friday evening by someone from ‘Jews for Justice for Palestine’ in the Cambridge Union, which I attended. There weren’t as many people there as I expected, but that was probably due to another event about the Middle East on the same night. And later on the ‘occupation’ in Cambridge started. You might have heard how similar occupations happened in other UK universities, in which the students occupied a certain place in the university and made demands for the university to take actions in the recent Gaza conflict.
In Cambridge, they occupied the Law Faculty. It was peaceful, of course, and there aren’t just Muslims or Arab students taking part. In fact, last Tuesday there was a reunion of my former school (the UWC’s, to be precise) and somebody suggested that we should meet up at the occupation and take part in it, since it is the sort of thing UWC students get involved in anyway. We didn’t go in the end but it’s good to know a lot of people are aware of these sorts of things going on. As for the occupation itself, I felt quite uncomfortable with using this method to get the university to accept the demands, but I think that’s obviously not the point. They are basically taking the piss out of the real occupation, drawing attention to it and proving to people how annoying an occupation can be to the people being occupied. Of course, ‘annoying’ is putting it really mildly.
Yesterday night there was a talk organized by the Israeli Society titled “Understanding Israel” at King’s College. I went there with an open mind to find out the Israeli perspectives on this issue, but to be honest, I don’t think the speaker convinces me that much. She mentioned that Israel has a right to defend itself from the thousands of ‘warheads’ and ‘missiles’ being launched for the past eight years, but she didn’t put this into context. She didn’t mention that not all of them were unprovoked attacks and she also didn’t mention the decrease of rockets in the ceasefire. The gist of her talk is basically that Israel has exhausted its means and now has to resort to war to defend its citizens. I very much doubted the ‘exhausted its means’ bit, but still, assuming that Israel does have a right to defend itself, it doesn’t mean they have a free permit to do whatever they like.
Just as an exaggerated analogy, if let’s say in school you have been bullied for some time by somebody, then you fighting back is probably understandable. But retaliating by say, maiming or killing the person is definitely overstepping the bounds. The same applies here. You may started out by saying that you’re defending yourself but you reacted using bigger violence and at some point you’ve crossed the line and what you did is not justifiable anymore.
Today there was an event called ‘Phonecall to Gaza’ in which basically we called the Head of the United Nations Development Programme in Gaza to ask about the situation there. Needless to say, it wasn’t very good… with people dead, injured and infrastructures destroyed. I asked him the question, “What is Israel doing to help rebuild Gaza?” The answer he gave was “Nothing.” He even mentioned that some of the aids supplies can’t get through because of the constraints that are imposed by Israel in getting them across the border.
So there you go. A lot of things happened this week. I think there’s one more next Monday about a debate on one-state vs. two-state solution, and I’ll probably go to that one.