Jewish students around the UK have launched a campaign against the Israeli government’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
The students are drawn from 15 universities across the country, including Oxford, the LSE and Edinburgh, and have asked to meet Middle East Minister Alistair Burt to make their thoughts heard.
The group, many of whom have attended visits to Israel and the West Bank with British Jewish group Yachad, also told uncritical Jewish community leaders that the Israeli demolitions “runs counter to basic Jewish values of justice”.
Their campaign, dubbed #Don’tSettleForThis, sees the next generation of Jews voice their opposition to Israeli policy from campuses including Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Goldsmiths, Leeds, LSE, Nottingham, Southampton, Sussex, UCL, Warwick and York.
It comes just weeks after Israel’s Supreme Court ordered more demolitions in the village of Susiya, alongside other demolition orders on the villages of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jamal in the Jordan Valley, and Jabal al-Baba in the E1 area near Maaleh Adumim.
The students’ letter to politicians, policy-makers and pro-Israel lobbyists outlines how the Israeli Government “is planning to remove hundreds of people from their homes on privately-owned land in the occupied territory”.
Among those to have received the students’ letter was Tom Tugendhat MP, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, and Stephen Twigg, the Chair of the International Development Select Committee
Jewish communal leaders such as Board of Deputies’ president Jonathan Arkush and Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson were also written to.
Sussex student Natasha Lever said she had travelled to Bedouin village Umm al-Khair, in which only one house has legal status under Israeli military law. “I learned about life in Area C under demolition orders,” she said. “I was shocked and saddened at the quality of life in these places, as basic human needs and rights are disregarded in favour of the gradual annexation of the West Bank.”
In their joint letter, the students write: “Not a year goes by without demolitions. Yet just metres away, on land appropriated from Umm al-Kheir, is the Israeli settlement of Carmel, which resembles a picture-perfect suburb. This is a disturbing disparity.”
Lever added: “As young British Jews who passionately support and care for Israel, we want to see a peaceful resolution and support the country which represents our religion and culture, that’s why we must stand in opposition to this kind of behaviour.”
Yachad director Hannah Weisfeld said: “These students want to see a safe and secure Israel flourish and recognise that demolishing villages will only make peace harder to achieve. They should be commended for speaking up.”