Over 200 students, staff and alumni have signed a letter calling for the School to issue a public statement condemning the Israeli government's actions. In response, LSE Director Howard Davies has so far refused to issue such a statement, claiming that the School does not take positions on "political issues". This is in stark contrast to an overtly political statement issued by the Davies in May 2007 condemning a UCU (University and College Union) resolution concerning the Israeli Occupation, and previous condemnations by LSE of South African Apartheid and the Tiananmen Square massacre in the 1980's.
Ziyaad Lunat, an Honorary Student of the LSE Students' Union and former Governor of the LSE stated: "It is totally hypocritical for LSE to remain silent whilst innocent civilians, many of whom are students and potential students, are being massacred by the Israeli military. We have already noted the cessation of potential applicants to LSE from Gaza as a result of the invasion and urge LSE and all educational institutions to issue messages of solidarity and pledge material support to the Palestinian people.
"We urge those in the LSE community to email Director Howard Davies demanding action and support students, alumni, staff and academics in their campaign to ensure that LSE shows solidarity with the Palestinian people.
James Caspell, also an Honorary Student of the LSE Student's Union and former Governor of the LSE stated:
"This latest Israeli invasion of Gaza is driven by an imperialist ideology rather than reality. Given around twenty Israeli civilians have tragically died as a result of rocket fire in the last decade, the barbaric use of military force which has already murdered hundreds of Gazans is disproportionate and counter-productive to achieving a just peace.
"We send our solidarity to our Palestinian brothers and sisters and support the cause of a one-state solution where Palestinians and Israelis can live in true political, ecological and economic equality. We support those who have taken to the streets in protest all across the world in opposition to the Israeli government, including in Israel itself.
The Palestine Solidarity Initiative supports the following demands being made of LSE by students, staff, academics and alumni:-
1. For LSE to issue a public statement condemning Israel's attack on Palestinian educational institutions, including the bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza, and encourage other British universities to issue a similar call;
2. Establish an emergency fund for Palestinians students from Gaza and waive their tuition fees in support of their efforts to acquire an education;
3. Provide more scholarships aimed specifically at Palestinians;
4. Abolish all postgraduate application fees, which discriminate against students on the basis of their ability to pay, as demanded by the LSE Students' Union;
5. Establish formal links with Birzeit University, as requested by LSE academics and students.
6. That the LSE divests from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation and war, as demanded by the LSE Students' Union;
Notes for Editors:
1. The aim of this Initiative is to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinian students, and empower those who are systematically denied of the opportunities to study at institutions where they would be able to fulfil their academic potential.
2. The Initiative aims to encourage all students, alumni, staff and academics connected with LSE to support Palestinians - politically, educationally and financially – by encouraging and supporting their application to the vast array of Masters degree programs that the LSE has to offer.
3. The London School of Economics Students' Union is officially twinned with Al-Najah University and recently voted to divest funds from those companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. The motion also called on LSE to respect human rights and follow suit in embracing a divestment agenda.
4. The Palestine Solidarity Initiative was founded by James Caspell and Ziyaad Lunat, two LSE alumni and activists who have long campaigned for the liberation of Palestine.