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Pro-Palestine protests continue after Vice Chancellor’s statement

Over 600 gathered in front of the Clarendon Building on 16 May for a rally organised by healthcare workers and Oxford Action for Palestine students. Speakers discussed media co-optation of the ongoing encampment’s narratives and encouraged focusing attention on Gaza.

British-Palestinian surgeon and Rector of Glasgow University Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah said to the crowd that protesters were calling for severing academic ties between Oxford and Israeli Universities because “there’s no seam where Israeli academia ends and where the Israeli army begins.” 

Abu-Sittah cited quadcopters, drones capable of shooting in small spaces, as an example of a contribution academia has made in weapons development. He encouraged students to continue their movement: “Never before has what’s happening in a colony reverberated so loudly in the metropoles of said colony.”

Oxford DPhil student Amytess Girgis, spoke on “co-optation” of the encampment’s narratives in both positive and negative ways. She said the Telegraph’s interest in ‘toilets and sprinklers’ at student encampments, and Suella Braverman’s visit that morning to Cambridge University’s encampment, at the expense of focus on the situation in Gaza.

She alleged that the University has practised “strategic gymnastics” to avoid engaging with the encampment – and that is “the opposite of ignoring” and called the Vice-Chancellor’s statement “long and so incredibly empty.” 

She also alleged that the University has not responded to the encampment’s email and physical paper asking to negotiate.

When asked about next steps, the encampment’s head of press, Kendall Gardner, told Cherwell: “I obviously can’t directly disclose our plans for escalation but we have teams that are thinking through all the eventualities and possibilities at any given moment. We are not just willing to stand by and let the University refuse to negotiate with us. We will do what we have to do to get them to come to the table.”

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