The University of Manchester is facing protests from its students and academics over a planned event celebrating the Balfour Declaration later this month.
The event came as part of a series of events marking the hundred year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 announcing support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
Establishing a Jewish state in a land that was already populated by a thriving and historically-rooted nation was seen as an obvious support to the wealthy Zionist leaders in Britain’s massive military build-up during World War I.
The Balfour Declaration had far-reaching consequences as it was considered the starting point of a chain of events that resulted in today’s bitter conflict in the Middle East.
News that the event – involving the Israeli Embassy and the Zionist Federation of Britain – was being held at the university was discovered by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
BDS campaigner, Huda Ammori, told The National that the university’s decision to allow the event to take place on its premises had upset many Palestinian students.
She said: “The Balfour Declaration is seen by many Palestinian students as the invitation of the ethnic cleansing, which took place in 1948.”
The BDS campaign at the University of Manchester has joined other student societies in writing a letter to the president and vice chancellor, Nancy Rothwell, demanding the event be cancelled. If it is not, Ms Ammori said a protest will take place outside the venue where the celebration is held.
The letter stated: “Is the University unaware that the Balfour Declaration ultimately led to massacres of innocent people, and the ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza for 50 years?
“The implications are doubly grave both for Palestinians studying now at the University and to the idea that universities should not be a place for celebrating colonialism and racism”.
The open letter from student societies concluded that the University of Manchester must cancel the event at the earliest opportunity.