An open letter entitled â€œJoint Statement of Solidarity with Palestinians and against the apartheid state of Israel by KCL Student Societiesâ€ has been signed by over 30 student groups, addressed to senior leadership at Kingâ€™s.
The letter was penned by the KCL Islamic Society and KCL Students for Justice for Palestine. Addressed to Kingâ€™s College Londonâ€™s interim president and principal Evelyn Welch, the letter states: â€œWe are a coalition of Students, Staff, Student Societies and Campaigns at Kingâ€™s College London (KCL), who stand in solidarity with the Palestinians in their plight under occupation and apartheid at the hands of the state of Israel and condemn the latest escalations of violence on Palestinians.â€
The groups also reference the Palestine Solidarity Campaignâ€™s â€œComplicity Databaseâ€, wherein Kingâ€™s is alleged to have indirectly invested Â£5,237,074 in companies which directly and indirectly fund the Israeli government. According to the undersigned student groups, â€œIt is unacceptable that KCL is profiting off of war crimes – and using our tuition fees to do so.â€
Undersigned groups listed three demands for commitments from Kingâ€™s and its current leadership. The first is â€œdivestment from companies complicit in sustaining the Israeli apartheid regimeâ€™s human rights abusesâ€, citing the University of Manchester as an example. The groupsâ€™ second demand is the institution of â€œan academic boycott against the apartheid regime of Israel by refusing collaboration and academic exchanges with universities implicated in Israelâ€™s violations of international lawâ€, specifically referencing the Herzliya Institute in Israel. Their final demand is that Kingâ€™s â€œdefend students’ rights to speak up, protest and organise around political issues including Palestine, without being sanctioned, arbitrarily disciplined or censored by the university – as has previously occurredâ€.
The statement concludes: â€œWe urge KCL to take a firm stand with us and show their solidarity by acting upon the demands above to hold this institution accountable for its unethical investments and the funding that has sustained the ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism, apartheid and infringement of basic human rights of Palestinians by the Israeli regime. [â€¦] As students and staff we will continue to strive in protecting the safety and welfare of all our communities on campus. In doing so, we must ensure to always speak out against injustice and call on KCL to do the same.â€
In a statement, KCL Students for Justice for Palestine toldÂ Roar: â€œOur purpose is to campaign to end our own institutionâ€™s complicity in the illegal occupation of Palestine, serve as a platform for students to learn about social justice, and to educate the wider community about the situation in Palestineâ€, emphasising their role as one member of a broad student society network: â€œWe should all be united for freedom, justice, equality and an end to apartheid.â€ As the movement’s fellow head organisation, the KCL Islamic Society, told Roar in a follow-up: “[KCL’s investments are] both unethical and display KCL’s stance with the destructive actions of the state of Israel. We believe that there’s a lot of strength in unity.”
KCL Intersectional Feminist Society, one of the student groups who have signed the open letter, told Roar they signed the joint letter for similar reasons: â€œWe truly are appalled at the ongoing human rights violations occurring in Palestine at the hands of the Israeli military. The open letter aligned with our societyâ€™s ethos. [â€¦] We believe that Kingâ€™s investment in support of an illegal occupation which partakes in oppression is truly unacceptable.â€
Another undersigned group, the KCL Indian Political Society, echoed this sentiment: â€œWe believe that this aggression and systemic violence against Palestine must stop now. Signing this statement and urging the university to take a stand will take us one step closer to our goal.â€
This joint letter comes after Kingâ€™s administration and the KCLSU Student Officers team posted individual statements regarding the ongoing conflict. The Kingâ€™s College London branch of the University and College Union also passed a motion of no-confidence Kingâ€™s Chairman Lord Geidt at their May 19 general meeting, demanding â€œhis immediate resignation from this roleâ€.