One student said the motion could leave some students at the College feeling “alienated” and accused the GCSU of “failing on its constitutional commitments”.Louis Ashworth for Varsity

Jewish students have criticised a college student union motion on Palestine for failing to condemn the Hamas attacks or mention the group by name.

The motion to express solidarity with Palestine was debated at the Gonville & Caius Student Union (GCSU) last week and an amended version was passed by a vote.

The University’s Jewish society (JSoc) told Varsity it is “shocked and upset at the events of the Gonville and Caius students union meeting”.

The motion called for “an immediate and permanent ceasefire” and “an end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories”.

The motion also endorsed a meeting with the Caius senior bursar to ensure the “alignment” of the College’s investments “with ethical guidelines concerning human rights and international law”.

A Jewish student said this clause should be removed from the motion, fearing it may imply support of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, which has been accused of links to antisemitism.

The motion’s proposer, who is not a member of GCSU committee, said the word “terrorist” is “politically charged” and argued against the inclusion of the Hamas attacks in the motion.

The proposer questioned: “What makes Israel’s atrocities worse than Hamas’?” and asked the room, “what is the definition of a terrorist?”

JSoc told Varsity: “The explicit refusal to condemn the atrocious attacks of October 7th is deeply troubling. Condemning violence, terror, and the loss of innocent lives should never be seen as political.”

The GCSU told Varsity that the final amended motion does reference the Israeli hostages held by Hamas, in Point 1 of the “JCR Resolves” section. This point calls for the “release of all Israeli and Palestinian people being held in contravention of international law,” but does not mention the group by name.

JSoc said: “We are also horrified by the dismissal of concerns of potential antisemitism raised by a Jewish student. At a time when antisemitic incidents have risen dramatically, both on and off campus, we call for Gonville and Caius Students’ Union to better support their Jewish students.”

The motion noted the recent rise in Islamophobic incidents as 600% but did not give a figure for rising antisemitism, JSoc said, which was recorded as 589% by the CST last week.

One student challenged the proposer’s suggestion that the motion is “relatively apolitical” saying: “Taking a stance is a political statement in itself.”

The student said that the motion could leave some students at the College feeling “alienated” and accused the GCSU of “failing on its constitutional commitments” to further the welfare of all students.

71 students voted on the motion. Voting was split by section of motion, with a minimum of 64 votes cast in favour of each part of the motion.

The GCSU told Varsity that they are constitutionally obligated to hold Open Meetings, to which any undergraduate student can submit motions.


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A GCSU spokesperson told Varsity: “The GCSU Committee had obligations under the GCSU Constitution and UK Freedom of Speech legislation to allow this legal motion to be discussed at the Open Meeting on 13 February. Every effort was made to ensure the motion was discussed in a sensitive way and welfare provisions were available.”

“The views of several Jewish members of our community were highlighted before and during the meeting. The final wording of the amended motion acknowledged the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians and included a call for Islamophobia and antisemitism training to be made available within College.”

“Any opinions expressed during the Open Meeting were those of the speakers, rather than reflective of the views of the GCSU Committee or the wider undergraduate student body at Caius. The GCSU Committee remains committed to supporting the welfare of all students,” the spokesperson continued.