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A student’s response to the Vice-Chancellor

The following open letter to the university Vice-Chancellor was sent to The Badger. We are happy to publish it as indeed we are always happy to publish letters written by students and staff which are sent to our Letters section, whether they be about content in the publication or wider issues. The letters which we publish do not reflect the editorial views of The Badger, which does not have an editorial stance: instead, as a student newspaper, The Badger serves as a platform for the individual views of our contributors. This letter also does not reflect the whole view of the University of Sussex Labour Society.

The following letter is a response to Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell’s email of February 22 titled “respecting different opinions and voices”. The email itself was a response to an opinion piece written by a Sussex student in the Telegraph on February 21.


Dear Adam Tickell,

I am writing this letter to you as the Vice-Chair of the Labour Society. The most recent email that you sent out to students was deeply offensive, insincere and upsetting. I am asking that you publically apologise to the Sussex Friends of Palestine society, in particular their Palestinian and Jewish members.

I also condemn your attempt to try to tag our event about something incredibly serious as a way to make a bigoted attack against your own students.

The reason that you should apologise is clear: you have used anti-Semitism as a weapon against Jewish students of your university, and you have belittled the experiences of Palestinian students at this University who have lived under Apartheid. This is in itself a bigoted attack. It also raises concerns that you, as a member of staff, are willing to use your position of power to weaponise bigotry against those who campaign for change at this university. This is a very dangerous precedent.

My Godfather is a black-Indian South African with a criminal record to show for his resistance against Apartheid. His Godfather is the late Nelson Mandela who also knew too well the systems of which Apartheid exist. His Mother was Amina Cachalia, a strong women’s anti-apartheid activist who faced over a decade of house arrest. His father, Yusef Cachalia, was a huge member of the Indian anti-Apartheid movement. A diverse team of legal researchers in the South Africa found in a 2009 report that Israel is almost certainly maintaining an Apartheid state under international legal norms, based in part on the International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion on The Wall.

It is because of my family and my Palestinian and Jewish friends that I am so distraught by your statement. Seeing as Palestinians live under Israeli Martial law while Israelis live under Israeli Common Law there is no discussion. That is by definition Apartheid. Palestinians have lost their freedom of movement, their right to trade for even the most basic of resources such as food, lost their land under the settlements and have lost their right to return, maybe it should be wise if you sit down with the Palestinian students and talk about the experiences that they have faced.

Even in Israeli common law, there are different laws for Palestinian citizens of Israel and other Israelis, from property rights to immigration law.

The Israel Apartheid Week has been organised in the past and present by Jewish and Palestinian students, on the panels, they have had Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian speakers. They have always been open and welcoming of any members of the university. You however seem to have no concern in being welcoming to your most victimised students.
Yours,

Duncan Michie

Vice-Chair of the Labour Society

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2 Comments

  1. I don’t understand the author’s point. Are they seriously suggesting that the Vice Chancellor should officially adopt a formal policy of saying that Israel is an apartheid state? What does that have to do with the running of the University?

    Reply
  2. Why is this piece so badly written? I know it’s by an editor but surely it could have been proof-read before publication. Your argument – such as it is – is essentially unintelligible as a result of problems with syntax, punctuation,and expression. How are you an editor?

    Reply

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