Statement in solidarity with the Palestinian people - Call to action on 20 October 2023

Submitted by ACOD UGent on vr, 10/20/2023 - 00:00

As a union, we believe that the UGent community must come to a clear position regarding the current war and the decades-long Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and people. After all, this is the necessary context to understand and be able to end the recent escalation of violence in the region.

As a union, we strongly condemn the violent actions of Hamas against the Israeli civilian population, as well as the disproportionate bombing by the Israeli army on the Gaza Strip. Here, 2.3 million Palestinians are currently detained and subjected to incessant bombardment. As of 18 October, some 3,000 Palestinians had already been killed, including hundreds of children. In the West Bank and other occupied territories, the Israeli state distributed weapons to extremist settlers to attack the Palestinian population. Despite Israeli rhetoric that they are protecting themselves from terrorist attacks, the occupying forces are clearly seizing this momentum to drive Palestinians out of their territories and liquidate them.

Palestinian trade unions have called for action and solidarity and, as a union, we are ready to support them.

  • We condemn the ongoing occupation, the colonisation policy, the Apartheid regime and the crimes of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.
  • We condemn the lax attitude of the international community and mainly the complicity of the United States and the European Union which, thanks to weapons, financial support, trade and technology, make the occupation possible.
  • We condemn scientific research and academic projects that contribute to the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and thus support the demands of the non-violent Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Not only do we condemn, as a union we also want to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination through actions.

So on Friday 20 October, between 12h-15h, we are helping to organise a 'teach-out' at the UFO, stopping work and classes; giving students and staff a historical and political context of the conflict; and calling on UGent to take a clear stand on the side of the oppressed.

But what about HAMAS?

As a union, we are clear: Hamas is a reactionary organisation, which has a terrible track record of human rights violations and suppression of dissident voices, including those of the labour movement. At the same time, we have great sympathy for the anger and helplessness of the Palestinian people, who legitimately resist violent occupation by the Israeli state in every way possible. "Neutrality" in this conflict or a "both sides have butter on their heads" attitude means maintaining the fundamentally unequal balance of power between the Israeli state and the Palestinian people: there is an essential difference between the violence of the occupier, and the resistance of the oppressed. Without occupation, no violence. Nevertheless, we do believe that as progressive organisations we are allowed to criticise Hamas' reactionary ideas, and the way they also deliberately targeted civilians in the attack on 7 October. For us, supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people is not the same as supporting Hamas.