A group of around 35 activists, some from campus, others from the city, met at 6pm on Wednesday 27 March to protest against the possible appearance of the Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, on campus.
It was never clear whether Mr Regev was actually coming to campus, or whether he had even been planning on coming. Reportedly he’d been booked to address the Politics Society, but this meeting had been cancelled. Or had it? Various people walked around campus peering into lecture theatres to try and discern evidence of a gathering, but there was no sign of any heightened security. The sight of a large black luxury car provoked a brief frenzy of interest… until the person behind the wheel turned out to be a Lancaster student.
The new Code of Practice on Protests (see subtext 185) led to a certain amount of bravado (permission for this event had not been sought) coupled with paranoia (were we under observation from University House?). In the event, no one disrupted the protest, and the consensus was that the ambassador was nowhere near Lancaster, but it had still been worthwhile to gather together.
Those present came from a wide variety of organisations and perspectives; the leaflet being handed out, produced by the Lancaster Palestine Solidarity Campaign, emphasised the need to listen to other voices in the Israel-Palestine conflict besides the ambassador’s, and included links to Jewish and Israeli organisations devoted to peace.
Some of those present felt this message of Jewish and Arab unity was marred by some of the chanting, in particular the divisive ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!’ – not everyone joined in with this. This aside, the sentiments were overwhelmingly inclusive and peaceful.
It is unknown whether Mr Regev is planning to come to Lancaster in the near future.