The letter demands that the University issues a public statement expressing solidarity with “Palestinians’ quest for freedom”Toa Heftiba/UNSPLASH

Content note: This article contains discussion of human rights breaches and ongoing events in Palestine

Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Society (PalSoc) has published an open letter addressed to Professor Stephen Toope condemning the University as complicit in the “oppression” of Palestinians.

The letter, which has obtained 1,115 signatures at the time of publication (19/05), criticises the University for its links and partnerships with companies whose “products are used by Israel to enact policies condemned by Human Rights Watch,” and proceeds to argue that these constitute “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

The letter references a 2020 investigation by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which found that the University of Cambridge invests an estimated £109,820,000 in companies which are “complicit in supporting Israel’s violations of international law.”

The letter makes several demands: among these are calls for the University to make a public statement “expressing solidarity with Palestinians’ quest for freedom and justice”, and condemn the “ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem”. It also calls for Israel’s use of “excessive and disproportionate force” on Gaza to be denounced.

Moreover, it demands that the University carries out a formal review of its institutional ties with corporations “implicated in illegal Israeli policies” and supports Palestine student activism on campus.

It argues in favour of severing formal links with the companies BAE Systems and Caterpillar, as well as any other companies “deemed complicit.” This demand was also made in 2018, when a petition from PalSoc raised signatures from over 40 student societies and 60 academic staff.


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The letter follows rising tensions in Gaza following several weeks of clashes, which, more recently, have seen dozens of civilians killed.

PalSoc expresses in the letter that they are “deeply concerned by the violence exacted by the Israeli state and racist Israeli groups against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, Gaza, and across historical Palestine.”

It adds: “We stand in solidarity with Palestinians and we are deeply angered by the role played by the University of Cambridge in perpetuating their oppression.”

The letter continues to state that the Cambridge Service Alliance, a business alliance between the University and several global companies, is partnered to “companies directly involved in advancing the settler colonisation of Palestinian lands.”

Calling on Toope as “a scholar of human rights and international law”, the letter asks that he comprehend “the gravity of the situation and the hegemonic sanitation of illegality in this context”.

The letter expresses the hope that students may “be part of a university that supports the emancipation of the oppressed, not their further subjugation and oppression.”