Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys

Six men disrupted Gaza vigil at pro-Palestine encampments

On Saturday evening, six men disrupted a vigil at the protestors at the encampment. The men directed abuse at the occupants and attempted to pull down posters around the camp.

Members of the encampment have told The Oxford Student that the men did not enter the camp but accosted one individual before being held apart by those who had been attending the vigil. No injuries were sustained. 

Video of the men has been posted on social media shouting “Israel we love you” and calling the protestors on the encampment “Terrorists” and “Terrorist Sympathisers.” 

The men went on to shout “Free the Hostages” and towards a Jewish occupant. “You’re not Jewish, Fake Jew… what the f*** is that on your head.” Members of the camp, as well as police, attempted to defuse the situation, despite the men threatening to kill the individuals standing between them and the entrance to the encampment. 

Oxford Action for Palestine (OA4P) posted a statement on their Instagram page following the incident. OA4P said the six men accosted the protestors with “xenophobic and transphobic slurs, among a litany of other vitriolic insults.” 

“They ripped down our art, physically assaulted nearby members of the community, and particularly targeted Jewish students trying to deescalate the situation, using unacceptable antisemitic language.”

OA4P accredited the incident to Prime Minister Sunak, University administrators, and the media who had been “weaponising antisemitism to demonise campus protestors.” 

“In a shallow act of desperation, they’ve placed us in danger to distract from the fact that they are aiding and abetting Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.”

This follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling the leaders of a number of universities to a meeting to discuss antisemitism on campuses. At the meeting, he instructed the university leaders to ensure that universities “remain bastions of tolerance, where debate takes place with respect for others and where every student feels safe”.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan stated that she was looking forward to “welcoming vice chancellors to No10 today to make sure together we have clear steps in place to protect Jewish students on campus.”

The Vice Chancellors were further instructed to ensure students “found to be inciting racial hatred or violence” faced disciplinary action. 

Edward Isaacs, president of the Union of Jewish Students, told the roundtable there had been an “unprecedented rise in campus antisemitism” since Hamas’s attacks on Israel on 7 October last year. 

“This truly has been the worst antisemitism crisis on campus that we have seen for a generation, and its impacts run deep throughout the Jewish student population,” Isaacs said. 

Some academics criticised Rishi Sunak of “scaremongering” for summoning vice-chancellors to Downing Street last Thursday to urge them to “take personal responsibility” for protecting Jewish students.

The University has been approached for comment.

Image Description: Pro-Palestine camps and posters

Image Credit: Cameron Samuel Keys