Communist Group in Durham Holds Anti-Isreal Solidarity Rally

On October 18th, the Durham Communist organization held a solidarity rally in the local market square that openly supported anti-British hatred and Palestinian terrorism against Jews. Both the social media content and records of this event are riddled with misinformation and arguably incite violence against UK Jews. 

At best, these so-called peace activists are farcically naïve. At worst, they are deliberately ignoring the deaths of hundreds of Jews to suit their agenda that purports to advocate for Palestinians – by actively discriminating against their Jewish peers. 

Even the initial event poster was highly inflammatory and misleading, by misattributing Israel’s existence to British Imperialism. 

Britain indeed had a hand in founding the modern State of Israel, with the Balfour Declaration and San Remo conference establishing the idea of a ‘national home for the Jewish people’. However, Britain was largely biased against Zionism and supportive of Arabs throughout their time in control of the region. 

Britain’s 1937 response to the violent ‘Great Arab Revolt’ suggested a two-state solution giving Arabs 75% of what was left of the Mandate. This was rejected out of hand by Arab leaders who would not entertain the notion of Jewish sovereignty on any part of the land. 

Two years of heightened Arab violence against the British and Jewish civilians followed this rejection, pushing Britain to publish the 1939 White Papers. This new capitulation declared any land partitions ‘unfeasible’, heavily limited immigration of Jews trying to escape the Nazis, and put further restrictions on Jewish land purchases. No restrictions were declared or implemented against Arabs.

Beyond this, not only is the extent of the British role in the 1948 Arab war of annihilation against the Jews still debated by scholars, but Great Britain was one of only a few countries that recognized Jordan’s illegal annexation of Jerusalem after the war.   

Ultimately, the modern state of Israel was established in spite of the British Mandate, whose leaders frequently tried to renege on their government’s commitment to support the immigration of Jews and establish a Jewish country

The Durham Communists’ next move was to defend the phrase ‘Intifada until victory’ by completely omitting the antisemitic violence historically linked with the term and deliberately chose not to explain what ‘victory’ entails: the destruction of the Jewish country. Further, the phrase has been directly linked to support for Hamas and their antisemitic violence. To characterize opposition to such statements as ‘grotesque slander’ is not based in reality.  

It comes as no surprise that the rest of the event was mired in bigotry and deception. One of the event’s main speeches claimed that Israel’s current military actions have nothing to do with self-defense, ignoring Hamas’ most recent massacre of thousands of Israeli civilians entirely. The speaker went on to promote the libel that Israel bombed the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, again failing to acknowledge that it was caused by a misfired Palestinian terror rocket. 

The speaker then tried to compare Israel’s defensive actions to Russia’s attempt to take over Ukraine. Here are some key facts that refute such a comparison: 

  • Jewish people are indigenous to Israel.
  • Civilian casualty numbers are due to Hamas’ cynical use of its dense population centers as shields from Israeli military operations.
  •  Israel has gone out of its way to encourage and facilitate the evacuation of Gazan civilians from active war zones, (sacrificing tactical advantages and putting IDF soldiers in further danger in the process). 
  • Israel has historically aimed towards co-existence, with two-state solutions being suggested and accepted by Israeli governments multiple times

On the flip side, not only has Russia done none of this nor do they face a similarly immoral adversary, but there is evidence that they have targeted civilians deliberately with little to no military value – a clear violation of the Geneva Convention’s laws regarding proportionality. 

If this wasn’t enough to show how this student group’s ignorance and deception fuels and promotes their bigotry, their follow up event will. 

One month after the October massacre, they held an event aimed to ‘discuss how to end Israeli-occupation forever’. Considering that the only agreement over what land Israel ‘occupies’ among the anti-Zionist crowd consequently entails the destruction of the state, this event was clearly not a welcoming environment for those who disagree with the displacement and killing of around half the world’s Jewish population

Ultimately, the lack of opposition to the Durham Communist Organization while enjoying the support of various student societies (including the Student Union) indicates an underlying accepted antisemitism at the university. Though the institution provided a lukewarm condemnation of antisemitism, it continues to turn a blind eye to the hateful groups endangering the safety of Jewish students on campus. The question must then be asked: how far this must go until action is taken?

About the Author
Amelie Mitchell is a member of the 2023-2024 CAMERA on Campus fellowship program, which aims to combat misinformation and anti-Israel bias on campus. As a student at Durham University, she has seen an increase in hostility to Israel and it's supporters over her time here. In her writing she wants to challenge her fellow students to be more nuanced and considerate in their approach to this topic, as well as raise awareness of the targeting and animosity Jewish and pro-Israel students are experiencing right now.
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