It's time for Manchester University to recognise its role in the denial of Palestinian rights

It's time for Manchester University to recognise its role in the denial of Palestinian rights
Blog: With a strong history linking the University of Manchester with the creation of the State of Israel, Huda Ammori writes its support of an oppressive regime must end.
4 min read
12 Jun, 2017
The shrine includes a booklet from 1974 commemorating the 100th anniversary of Weizmann's birth

The University of Manchester continues to support Israel's apartheid regime through their investments and institutional ties with Israel, as exemplified through their shrine of Israel's first president, Chaim Azriel Weizmann (1874-1952), in its chemistry building.

Formerly a chemist at the university, Weizmann used his method of deriving acetone from maize, a necessity for artillery shells, to assist in the war industry and the colonisation of Palestine before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Weizmann, alongside two other Zionist leaders, was responsible for and instrumental in turning the Zionist dream into a reality, which entailed the displacement of 800,000 Palestinians, more than half of the Palestinian population, and the destruction of more than 400 Palestinian cities, towns and villages during the Nakba in 1948.

The occupation of Palestinian land, the denial of Palestinian human rights and the displacement and murder of Palestinian civilians continues to the present day.

Chaim Weizmann disregarded Palestinians while configuring the Zionist regime, describing Palestinians as, "the rocks of Judea, obstacles that had to be cleared on a difficult path".

The shrine includes a booklet from 1974, written by Anthony E Michaelis, and published by the Anglo-Israel association, titled Weizmann Centenary - His Living Memorial - The Institute Bearing His Name. To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Dr Chaim Weizmann.

The Anglo-Israel association was founded in 1949 by Sir Wyndham Deedes, an English Zionist. The shrine and the university's institutional ties illustrate that UoM holds a political closeness towards Israel. Through its actions, UoM normalises the plight of the Palestinians and hides their suffering, while glorifying war crimes, and playing an active part in Israeli propaganda.

UoM has followed in the steps of a war criminal, as demonstrated through their institutional ties to all three Israeli institutions founded by Weizmann: Technion, the Weizmann Institute and Hebrew University. In 1901, Weizmann planned a "Jewish-only" institution in Palestine, with a focus on science and engineering. As a result, in 1912, a science lab for the weaponry required for the Zionist regime, Technion - Israel State of Technology was formed.

To this present day, Technion remains the leading site of research and development for the Israeli military, whose weapons have been tested on Palestinian civilians for decades. Furthermore, Hebrew University supports institutions in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as the confiscation and theft of Palestinian land.

The University of Manchester remains a partner with Israeli institutions, which are complicit in the state's apartheid. This comes in spite of calls from the university community, including students and academics, to end ties with Israel's apartheid regime.

Through its actions, the university betrays its purported strong values of social responsibility both nationally and internationally.

2017 marks 100 years since the Balfour declaration was instated; introduced and secured by Chaim Weizmann. The current plight of the Palestinians is the result of the legacy of this pledge and wider British colonialism in the region. British political interests, including those of British institutions, have been the source of Palestinian suffering for decades.

Weizmann fulfilled the prerequisites for the creation of an apartheid state which oppresses an indigenous population. Honouring Chaim Weizmann is a mockery of the suffering of the Palestinian people. Our people have been dispossessed for almost seven decades. We have suffered unremitting mistreatment at the hand of the Zionist regime, including the ongoing Nakba.

The Nakba and Israel's current policies of displacement and dispossession are illegal under international law and violate the basic principles of human rights.

The actions carried out by Chaim Weizmann continue to shape the present, where the occupation and denial of Palestinian human rights continues within Israel's apartheid regime, which the university continues to praise.

As a Palestinian student at UoM, I am deeply disturbed that my university continues to honour a racist war criminal who is one of the men responsible for the destruction of my family's home and the continued oppression of the Palestinian population. UoM disregards their own Palestinian students, who have suffered under the hand of Israel's regime.

The university must follow its social responsibility policy to help in ending this injustice and end all support for an oppressive regime.

Huda Ammori is leading the student-led BDS campaign at the University of Manchester. She is a British student with Palestinian and Iraqi heritage.

Ammori is due to meet with the university administration soon.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.