‘Horrific incitement to violence’: Jewish students’ union slams UCL-UCU Palestine stance
The Union of Jewish Students condemned UCL-UCU’s use of the slogan ‘Intifada until victory’
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has accused UCL-UCU of inciting violence and terror following its use of a pro-Palestinian slogan.
In an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) last Friday, university union members resolved to support Palestine’s pursuit of independence and used the controversial slogan “Intifada until victory” in the text of one of several motions.
The UJS decried the use of the term, describing it as “a horrific incitement to violence and terror.”
According to the UCU branch, the meeting was “convened to allow members to discuss the situation in Israel and Palestine.”
Several motions were raised for debate at the EGM, with the first one titled “NO TO OCCUPATION! NO TO IMPERIALISM! SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN WORKERS AND YOUTH!”
This motion called for the UCL-UCU to support a free Palestine. Among its resolutions was “to reaffirm its solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people against occupation and for national self-determination.”
It also contained the controversial language decried by the UJS. The final point of the motion resolved “to call for a Socialist Federation of the Middle East — Intifada until victory!”
Intifada is an Arabic term for rebellion, uprising or resistance movement and often refers to two uprisings, in 1987 and 2000, by Palestinians seeking to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
However, several groups have alleged that it may be construed as an incitement to violence, including UCL.
The UJS strongly condemned the union’s use of the phrase.
Guy Dabby-Joory, UJS Head of Campaigns, said: “It is an utter disgrace for UCL’s UCU branch to call for an ‘intifada until victory’ and a ‘mass uprising’ against Israeli civilians. This is explicit support for indiscriminate violence and terror against Israeli men, women, and children, echoing Hamas’ brutal massacre on 7th October. It is shameful that academics have so starkly failed in their duty of care towards Jewish students at UCL, many of whom have had family killed in the intifadas or in Hamas’ attack.”
In a post on X, the UJS also referred to the UCL-UCU’s remarks as “a horrific incitement to violence and terror” and said it had written to UCL’s Provost to “call for urgent action in the wake of this.”
A UCL spokesperson also suggested UCL-UCU’s language incites violence.
They said: “Our local branch of the national University and College Union (UCU), which is an independent trade union organisation and separate to UCL, passed a series of incoherent and disturbing motions on Friday.
“While they ‘condemn all forms of violence’ and note that the ‘deliberate killing of civilians is always an atrocity’, they also use language that clearly incites indiscriminate violence.
“We wholly condemn this incitement to violence, have called on the local branch to withdraw the statement, and have written to Dr Jo Grady, the General Secretary of the national UCU to take action against the local branch. Language such as this has no place on a university campus.”
In response to the UJS criticism, UCL-UCU posted on X (formerly Twitter) saying: “Out and out lying and smear tactics is not a good look.” It also asserted that “no motion at UCL UCU has ever said anything about uprisings against civilians.”
The response also referred to motions passed in the same meeting that denounced attacks on civilians in both Israel and Palestine.
One of these motions read: “The deliberate killing of civilians is always an atrocity and a violation of international law. Neither Israel, the occupying power, or armed groups of the people under occupation, the Palestinians, can ever be justified in targeting defenceless people.”
Following further criticism by the UJS and UCL, the UCL-UCL clarified its position in a branch statement on October 31st.
It wrote: “UCL UCU explicitly condemns all attacks on civilians, including the attacks by Hamas on October 7th and subsequent assaults by the Israeli Defence Forces on Gaza and in the West Bank. We call for the immediate release of all hostages and an immediate ceasefire to prevent further casualties.”
The spat comes following prior controversy over the use of the phrase “Intifada until victory.” Earlier this month, the UCL Marxist Society was suspended by the Students’ Union for posters and online materials using the slogan. At the time, the SU expressed concerns that it may be construed to be inciting violence.
The Imperial College Marxist Society has also been issued with similar warnings over its use of the phrase.
This latest controversy comes as UCL tries to balance student welfare with accommodating diverse opinions on campus, explaining this position in a statement last week on the situation in Israel and Palestine.g