Former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister to be met with protest at Cambridge Union

Protestors hope the Union will ‘reverse the trend’ of inviting members of what they call the ‘apartheid regime’

Members of the Cambridge University Palestinian Solidarity Society (CUPSS) will converge outside the Cambridge Union this evening (23/11) for a demonstration against the Union’s decision to host the former Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Dan Meridor.

Dan Meridor has served in the Israeli government in a variety of capacities, as Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance, Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, as well as Deputy Prime Minister.

The society claims Meridor has a “history of breaches to international law and human rights abuses” and has “been complicit in a number of crimes committed against the Palestinian people.” In 2000, Amnesty International sent an appeal to various members of the Israeli government, including Meridor, about a draft law entitled “The Imprisonment of Combatants not Entitled to Prisoner of War Status.” Amnesty said: “If passed, this law would undermine basic principles of international humanitarian law”. Human Rights Watch also sent letters to various politicians at the time, including Meridor, condemning the “introduction of legislation permitting the holding of hostages, a war crime”.

During Meridor’s tenure as Deputy Prime Minister, there was an eight-day strike carried out against the Gaza Strip in 2012, wherein approximately 150 Palestinians civilians died, according to this statement submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

CUPSS say they have “no fear” of listening to their political opponents. However, they claim the invitation of Meridor represents a pattern within the Union, who they argue have “hosted numerous representatives of this apartheid regime”. Amnesty International published a report this year, entitled “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians”. In February this year, Cambridge Union also invited Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely to speak.

CUPSS said: “We wish to make clear that Meridor is not welcome to our university, or our city, and that if the Union continues to invite such officials, we will continue in voicing our opposition.”

The decision to invite Meridor has been condemned in an open letter by CUPSS as well as over 35 other student groups across the country.

When approached for comment, The Cambridge Union said they are “strongly committed to our founding principle of promoting Free Speech. The Union’s role is to create a safe space in which to discuss difficult topics and provide members with the opportunity to cross examine them. The format of our speaker events offers members a unique opportunity to directly question powerful and high profile figures.

“Dan Meridor will be taking questions from members, and we would strongly encourage students to raise the concerns referenced in the open letter in this portion of the event. The Union will always work hard to ensure balanced coverage and was proud to host [Palestinian] ambassador Husam Zomlot last Michaelmas.”

Dan Meridor and Tzipi Hotovely were contacted for comment. 

Feature image credits: Vedika Mandapati

Additional reporting credits: Felix Armstrong