In response to the hostilities between Israel and Gaza that broke out on 7 October, the University has released a statement on the conflict and expressed support for all affected students. The brand-new Oxford Israel Society, founded today, has also released a statement.
The University statement acknowledges “that the news of the recent conflict is very upsetting, particularly for our students and colleagues with connections to the area.” It continues, telling students and staff that “the University and colleges are working to ensure all members of the University community are supported as much as possible.”
In addition to the public statement, the University has sent a separate email to students registered with Oxford as Palestinian, Israeli, or citizens of bordering countries – the email was also sent to members of related student societies. The email reiterates the University’s concern over the conflict and affirms its commitment to making accommodations for affected students. The University also included an explanation of the various welfare provisions available.
Certain colleges have also elected to individually address the conflict. The Balliol College Master, in an email to Balliol students, stated: “You will have all seen news coverage of the terrible events in Israel and Gaza. Some of you will have been personally affected, having family or friends in the region. Please do not hesitate to seek support of any kind that you need.” The college also acknowledged that some of its members will have been personally affected by events in the region and encouraged them to contact the college Welfare Team for appropriate sources of help and advice.
The Oxford Palestine Society posted to their Instagram account stating: “The offensive launched from Gaza can only be understood in the context of Israel’s ongoing, decades long, military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and imposition of a system of oppression that meets the legal definition of apartheid.” They also urged students support the “movement for a free Palestine” and join an upcoming protest this Thursday.
In an exclusive statement to Cherwell, the new Oxford Israel Society “unequivocally condemns” the recent conflict and “the massacre and hostage taking committed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists on the 7th of October, during the Jewish holy day of Shmini Azeret. The sheer brutality and ruthlessness of the massacre, mutilation, torture and rape of Jews harks back to the darkest of times. The use of dead, tortured civilians and kidnapped children as propaganda aids is a practice so vile as to defy comprehension.”
The society calls on the University and colleges to follow suit and similarly condemn these attacks. The society warns that in the coming weeks it is likely a significant military campaign will occur and the society has “confidence in the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) commitment to minimise any harm done to innocent people.”
They concluded their statement by writing: “We grieve for the victims and their families. We pray for the safety of the soldiers, citizens of Israel and all innocent civilians.”
As of the time of this article, over 700 Israelis and 500 Gazans have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities and countless hundreds more are wounded and missing.
The Oxford Palestine Society has been contacted for comment.