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Palestine Society protest sparks campus tension ahead of Jewish Peace Week

The protest commenced the Society’s ‘Israeli Apartheid week’ demonstrating against Israel’s actions in Palestine


Tension kicks off on Tuesday afternoon as a group of committee members and students of Palestinian Society performed a silent protest outside Nottingham New Theatre.

The protest was designed to raise awareness of the alleged Israeli human-rights violations against Palestinians, as part of what they describe as 'Israeli Apartheid week'.

Around one of those random stone slabs in front of the drama building, three protesters stood silently around one protester who was attached to a paper chain — hoping to symbolise the oppression that Palestinians in the occupied territories face under Israeli rule.

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When TheNottingham Tab spoke to the chained up girl after the event, she claimed that "one reason we were there was because student fees are helping fund Israel's apartheid as the engineering department has a close association with BAE", the UK's multi-billion pound military technology contracting company.

The demo, coming just days before Israel Peace week – an event where Israeli intellectuals discuss potential solutions in Israel – was met with anger from students who attended the protest holding Israel flags.

Advertised on the public Facebook group for Palestine Society, the protest was to begin at 11am and end at 1pm. However, members of the Society arrived an hour late and left roughly 45 minutes after.

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Two counter-protesters hold up Israeli flags

They narrated the event as "creating a one sided political dialogue", that was "reflective of the media discourse" in the UK currently with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

One student, who did not want to be named, rebuffed the description of Israel as an apartheid regime as a "myth and a slur", suggesting "Israel is not an apartheid state. Israel is the only democratic country in the Middle East". As I was talking to one of the protesters, I even overheard him saying sarcastically "I wish the Uni was funding Israel".

Although it was a rather peaceful afternoon, there were a few rowdy antagonists on the scene. One girl, in a kind of piss-taking, teenage mean-girl style claimed "I remember making those type of paper chains in year 3".

One of the other provocateurs tried to interrupt the protest by holding up a banner saying 'How the LGBTQ+ are treated in Gaza': making a reference to the oppression faced by the LGBT+ community in Palestine under regional, Islamic doctrines.

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In response, Irfan, who I have previously seen shouted down at the TpointUK event for his strong anti-American, pro-Palestine stance noticed that "When they turned up, they were expecting an argument but we are here remaining silent".

In a well constructed polemic, he added that "the reason this is a one sided dialogue is because that is just how things are in Israel, it is totally one-sided. The Palestinians have no army and no international support".

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Irfan (centre, camera facing) engaged in a discussion with a counter-protester

Although most onlookers just passed by, apathetic and confused by the whole thing as most Notts students are, a few by-passers were just glad that people were starting to care about the whole issue.