Sign the open letter here.
Dear LSE School Management Committee,
In June 2021, the LSE student body proposed and subsequently passed the policy motion: “Should The LSE Be Apartheid-Free? The passing of this policy showcases that the LSE student body and the LSE Student Union stand with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and liberation. Despite vocal activism from staff and students, the Student Union is concerned that the school has not taken direct action to address their ongoing support towards settler colonialism and apartheid committed by Israel against Palestine. LSE’s current Socially Responsible Investment Policy (SRI) has left us, as well as many students, extremely sceptical of LSE’s commitment to take meaningful action against apartheid. In terms of LSE’s commitment to “exposing and challenging social evils, like racial inequality”, we feel as though LSE’s Inclusive Education Action Plan (IEAP) whereby the school has identified the need to “diversifying and decolonising the curriculum” and articulate “an empowering anti-racist praxis for equity and justice in the classroom” as superficial. Instead of implementing actionable change LSE’s IEAP merely amounts to a performative box checking.
Struggles for liberation are interconnected and we feel that it is the responsibility of LSE working groups such as, the Race Equality Steering Group and the Free Speech Working Group to actively engage in initiatives to respond to the colonial dispossession of Palestine that is happening right now. In 2016, the UNSC Resolution 2334 stipulated that Israel’s colonial settlements “have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation under international law” and demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”. In 2021, Human Rights Watch and Israel’s biggest human rights organisation, B’Tselem affirmed Israel's apartheid against Palestine. Last year, more human rights organisations identified apartheid and settler colonialism — Amnesty International in February 2022 and most recently, in September 2022, UN Special Rapporteur. In 2023 — seven years since the UNSC released their resolution — LSE currently invests over £4.5 million in companies and corporations that are involved in breaches of international law carried out by the Israeli state towards Palestinians which in turn, goes directly against the UNSC’s ethical guidelines.
Israel’s colonial settlement does not operate in a vacuum but is encouraged and strengthened by the notion that apartheid is an equal conflict on which there can be "two sides". This complete disregard of the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people is used to conceptualise Israel’s settler colonial regime in a way that is palatable to academic institutions. Through its silent investments into companies implicated in Israeli settler colonialism, LSE is complicit in the displacement and dehumanisation of an already marginalised group of people.
Today, 2 years after the motion’s passing, Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise continues to expand, entrenching Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people as a whole. LSE has a responsibility to support and draw attention towards Palestinian struggles under settler colonialism. As voted by the LSE student body, the Student Union affirms our duty to work to protect and stand with Palestinians. We actively challenge LSE’s support for Israel’s settler-colonial enterprise and demand that they do better.
1. We demand that LSE issue a public statement condemning the apartheid inflicted by Israel on Palestine and Palestinians.
2. We demand that LSE rescind its adherence to the IHRA definition of anti-semitism, adopted in 2017, and which the current Conservative government is pressuring universities to adopt under threat of loss of funding. The UCL-commissioned report concluded that the new definition does not add any precision beyond that already provided by the Equality Act. The IHRA definition falsely conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and has been used to silence and block activism in support of justice in Palestine and curtail free speech. The IHRA fails Jewish students by focusing on criticism of Israel at the expense of the real and pernicious anti-semitism, and by suggesting that Jewish students from all over the world are linked to, or responsible for, the actions or crimes of the Israeli state.
3. We demand that LSE actively works with Palestine solidarity organisations to support Palestinian and pro-Palestine students by protecting their right to narrate their experiences, and resisting government pressures to curtail free speech on campus. Organisations include: Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP), British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), Makan, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), and Friends of Al Aqsa etc. Alongside working alongside these bodies, we demand that LSE commit to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) to ensure that LSE ends its complicity in Israeli crimes and contributes to the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality while continuing to uphold LSE’s commitment to freedom of expression.
4. We demand that LSE provides specialised support for students and staff who are refugees, asylum seekers, or forced migrants. We ask for tangible support for students and staff who are affected by the settler colonialist apartheid violence in Palestine. This includes approving extensions and resits, staff support for assessments, free access to long-term therapy, and financial support for students who require it.
5. We demand that LSE pledge to divest from companies complicit in Israeli apartheid and end relationships with institutions that contribute to the oppression of Palestinians. These include, but are not limited to, investments in Israeli banks which are active in illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land:
Israeli banks Bank Leumi Le-Israel (£204,206)
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd (£60,659)
Bank Hapoalim BM (£130,051)
Israel Discount Bank (£1,912)
Airbus, Europe’s second largest arms producers (£340,772)
Elbit, Israel’s largest private arms company which has a multi-million dollar investment in AnyVision, whose technology is used in Israeli military checkpoints and in surveillance of the Palestinian population (£1,912)
A full list of LSE’s complicit investments can be found here.
Sign the open letter here.