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University and Union Issue Joint Statement on Gaza and Israel

The University of St Andrews and University of St Andrews Students’ Association have announced their joint position regarding the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

On 19 October, the update was issued via an email sent by the Union and signed by Association President Barry Will and Professor Dame Sally Mapstone. It acknowledged the distress and deep divisions present in the community before stating, “Our shared values are more critical than ever at times like this; St Andrews abhors terrorism, we abhor war crimes, we abhor all violence against innocent civilians, we will take no side but the side of humanity, and we wish for, and will, do everything in our power to support dialogue for peace, a humanitarian corridor out of Gaza, and an end to hostilities.”

While the email did acknowledge “that this conflict is causing deep hurt”, it called for unity “in respect for the sanctity of human life, to mourn the loss of civilians, and to work together for dialogue and peace.”

The email also addressed the recent rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the UK, and emphasised that there would be no tolerance of any discriminatory language or hate. It encouraged students who experience this in any form to “report it to the University by contacting Report and Support.”

Additionally, the email included a reminder that, according to UK law, Hamas is a designated terrorist group and that “signalling support, including moral support or expressing an opinion or belief that is supportive of Hamas, is a criminal offence in the UK, as outlined in the Terrorism Act (2000).”

It continued, “We will continue to have open dialogue with groups across our community, to support and encourage free expression within the law, and in ways which we hope will reflect our shared values.”

Offences under the Terrorism Act (2000) also include supporting, knowingly attending, organising, and/or speaking at meetings in support of, and professing to belong to a terrorist organisation. Those guilty of any offence are liable “on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, to a fine or to both, or on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.”

Globally, there are new concerns about the threat of terrorism, with the US State Department recently issuing a worldwide travel advisory warning citing an increased potential for “terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests”, particularly in areas heavily frequented by tourists. It is unclear how or if these new concerns over the increased threat of terrorism will affect international travel during the upcoming holiday season

The UK government currently classifies the terrorism threat level in the UK as “substantial” and “an attack is likely” according to the government.

Image: University of St Andrews

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