Lancaster Speak Out for Palestine event draws hundreds following major increase in violence

More than 250 people - including Jewish and Palestinian students - gathered in Dalton Square on Friday May 14 to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Speakers included Palestinian students who talked about the situation in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Green Party County and City Coun Gina Dowding, lecturer Dr Julie Hearn and author Robert Cohen

Lancaster MP Cat Smith has also joined the Muslim community of Lancaster in condemning the recent actions taken by Israel.There has been increasing exchanges of rocket fire and airstrikes between Israel and Gaza over the past week.

The BBC has reported that as of Sunday May 16, ten people have been killed in rocket attacks on Israel.

Tom Morbey captured the event in Dalton Square.

In Gaza, the overall death toll stands at 188 people.

Student Haddi Malik said at the Lancaster event: "The community needs to understand the university’s involvement in weapons manufacturing.

"It has over £60,000 invested in this industry and we are campaigning for them to divest immediately.

"Our event was to stand in solidarity with Palestinians right now as they face evictions, air strikes and apartheid."

The Speak Out for Palestine event in Dalton Square. Photo by Tom Morbey.

A spokesperson for Lancaster University said after the event: "Lancaster University is committed to creating an environment and culture where all students, staff and visitors feel safe, welcome and supported for who they are.

"As an outward-looking, global university we have been involved with Palestinian universities for more than a decade – these links include an exchange programme, a formal Memorandum of Agreement (with An-Najah University), scholarships and other collaborations designed to strengthen links across research, teaching and broader engagement.

"We stand for free speech, openness and dialogue and will support any member of our community that wishes to express their views providing they are not a direct malicious attack on another individual or contributing to a climate of hate."

Author Robert Cohen opened his speech by saying: “I stand with you tonight as a Jewish Student at Lancaster University who is in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Photo by Tom Morbey.

"I stand here tonight because what’s happening to the Palestinian people is a crime.

"And I stand here tonight to honour the resistance, courage and steadfastness of the Palestinian people.

"Despite what you may think, I am not a lone Jewish voice.”

Gina Dowding, speaker and Green County Councillor, said after the event: “I was moved to see such a large turn out of people expressing solidarity and empathy with Palestinians.

Many people gathered in Dalton Square to show their support for the Palestinian people.

"And we are part of an increasing worldwide movement horrified at the suppression of the Palestinian people and this latest totally asymmetrical conflict.

"Having been to Palestine twice I have witnessed the levels of intimidation that is daily life in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

"The UK government should be doing its utmost to end Israel's occupation of Palestine, not be exporting weapons to Israel.”

Lancaster photographer Tom Morbey captured the event in pictures.

Around 250 people attended the Speak Out for Palestine event in Dalton Square. Photo by Tom Morbey.
A protest march took to the streets in Lancaster city centre. Photo by Tom Morbey.