Protesters accused Palantir of "profiting from genocide" Christopher Lorde for Varsity

Students disrupted Peter Thiel’s speech at the Cambridge Union as they accused him of “aiding genocide” and “assisting Israel in bombing hospitals”.

Thiel is the founder of US software company Palantir, which supplies the Israel Defence Force (IDF) with intelligence and surveillance services to assist its “war-related missions”.

Over two hundred students gathered outside the Cambridge Union yesterday evening (08/05), as they aimed to “drown out” Thiel’s talk. The march was attended by many involved in the pro-Palestinian encampment outside King’s College.

Two students from campaign group Youth Demand also interrupted the event from inside the Union chamber, accusing Thiel of profiting from genocide. The students flew Palestinian flags that they had smuggled in before being escorted out.

During the talk, the protesters outside were audible within the Union, as students chanted “we charge you with genocide” and “your hands are red” in an attempt to disrupt the talk.

Following the event, Thiel’s vehicles were blocked from leaving the Union for over an hour by a crowd of over 200 protesters gathered at the exit. During this time, a member of Thiel’s team came out of the building to observe and film the protesters.

Protesters accused Palantir of “profiting from genocide” and providing the IDF with “racist predictive policing technology that aids Israel’s apartheid regime”.

One of the students disrupting the event with Youth Demand said: “It’s embarrassing and appalling that anyone could even want to attend a talk by a man profiting millions off the backs of dead people. Palestinian lives are not disposable and I cannot stand for profit over human lives.”

The Cambridge for Palestine (C4P) encampment, which has heavily involved in yesterday’s protest, is made up of about forty tents and has held daily events including a de-escalation workshop and an “apartheid off campus” talk.

C4P’s campaign has gained support from over 100 Cambridge academics. An open letter in support of the encampment’s demands for the University to divest from Israel has been signed by 29 named professors and 114 other named academic staff. The letter has also amassed over 1000 anonymous signatures.

Professor Clement Mouhout, one of the letter’s signatories, told Varsity: “As an academic, I am horrified that a large number of the schools as well as all of the universities in Gaza have now been destroyed.”


Mountain View

Pro-Palestinian encampment hands demands to Cambridge heads

Pro-vice-chancellors Kamal Munir and Bhaskar Vira issued a statement to all students on Tuesday evening, writing that they had visited students in the encampment, but the University is “operating as normal”.

“Our primary concern is, as ever, the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff, including those who are taking part in this protest, and we ask for consideration and kindness to be shown to all in our community,” they said.

A Cambridge Union spokesperson told Varsity: “Since our founding in 1815, the Cambridge Union Society’s foremost principle is that of freedom of speech and the open exchange of ideas. In this spirit, we both support the right to peaceful protest alongside the right for our speakers and members to voice their opinion.”

The University of Cambridge, Palantir, and Peter Thiel have been contacted for comment.