Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Independent since 1920

‘Rally for Gaza’ protest at Oxford Union talk featuring Nancy Pelosi

Over a hundred protestors gathered in front of the Oxford Union where Nancy Pelosi is speaking for a protest which a supporter told Cherwell was “organised by a group of different student societies.” A protest also broke out inside the Oxford Union Chamber.

Protesters condemned the Oxford Union and Oxford University who they described as “complicit” in the war on the Gaza strip and accused of “harassing their own students” for their protests. 

Two protesters entered the debate floor and held Palestinian flags in front of Pelosi. They had entered the chamber alongside the audience before walking up right in front of the podium. One of the protesters, with whom the security attempted to negotiate to no avail, wore a T-shirt of the group Youth Demand.

At the beginning of her lecture, Pelosi’s voice was entirely drowned out by sounds of the protestors outside, her words inaudible to the chamber.

“I see power brewing in this room right now,” Pelosi said, in the context of encouraging young people to participate in politics. Protesters outside the Oxford Union were handing out leaflets advertising a demonstration scheduled to take place on May Day.

Half an hour into the protest, Pelosi concluded her lecture, and five police officers entered the room to speak with the protesters. The protesters eventually left with the police, to which the chamber responded with applause.

Pelosi attracted criticism in January when she suggested that some pro-Palestinian protesters were “connected to Russia.” On Monday, Pelosi called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign over his “terrible” actions in Gaza and said the number of people who have died in Gaza since Hamas’s October 7 attack was “too many”.

“We recognize Israel’s right to protect itself. We reject the policy and the practice of Netanyahu — terrible. What could be worse than what he has done in response?” 

A protester told Cherwell: “Pelosi can condemn Benjamin Netanyahu as much as she likes but the point is ending arming Israel.”

Just yesterday, the US signed into law a military aid package that includes approximately $26 billion for Israel and $1 billion for Palestinians in Gaza.

The Oxford Union also saw protests in October when hosting American Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. At the event Shapiro called protestors’ chants “genocidal slogans” and Union members questioned him repeatedly on the war in the Gaza Strip. 

Union President Louis Wilson wrote in his presidential welcome: “As threats to free speech continue to become more commonplace, and society grapples with the challenges of polarisation, the role of the Oxford Union in upholding its founding values is even more crucial. These values, of promoting free debate amongst students, standing up for free speech, and promoting education, have defined our history and we have a responsibility to ensure they continue to guide our future. The opportunity to hear from people with whom you may passionately disagree is one that must not be taken for granted.”

Pelosi is delivering the annual Benazir Bhutto Memorial Lecture to a full chamber. Later tonight she will participate in a debate on motion ‘this house believes populism is a threat to democracy.’ Speaking on proposition are Pelosi and JOE Media head of News and Politics Oli Dugmore, while in opposition are co-founder of Momentum James Schneider, and The Spectator’s “Marshall Matters” podcast host Winston Marshall.

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles