Pro-Palestinian encampment calls for University of Bristol to cut ties with Israel

  • Watch as students talk to ITV News' Max Walsh

Dozens of students have set up an encampment to protest against the University of Bristol's ties with Israel and help end what they argue is the 'genocide' of the Palestinian people.

The demonstration is calling on the university to axe its links with a number of UK defence companies which, they say, have helped produce weapons and aircraft being used in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

But Jewish students have expressed their concern that this latest protest will lead to more anti-semitism on the campus.

One protester, who did not want to reveal their name, insisted there was no place for any discrimination.

They said: "There is absolutely no place in this movement for any form of discrimination. The camp is an anti-racist space - so no tolerance of any anti-semitism or islamophobia.

"I'd also say that I know various Jewish students who have come and joined us. They do not feel unwelcome here."

The students say their action is focused on getting the University of Bristol to divest away from Israel.

The protester added: "I'm at a university which has £92 million in research partnerships and financial investments in arms companies.

"With my tuition fees going towards funding that, I have a direct responsibility to do something about that.

"That money is enabling a genocide to be occurring and standing by is not an option for us."

Edgar Santos, who is President of the Jewish Society, lost a friend in the Hamas attacks in October.

He applauded the efforts to highlight a humanitarian crisis but is concerned about what the demonstrations could lead to.

Edgar said: "I do feel unsettled. We've already heard calls for 'Globalising the Intifada' and age-old troupes about Zionists controlling the media.

"While I can still be Jewish in Bristol, it's unsettling to know that there are such divisive slogans and words being used. Jewish students do feel unsafe."

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We fully respect the rights of our students to peacefully protest within the law.

"We recognise the distress and impact on all staff and students at the University of the ongoing violence and conflict in Israel-Gaza.

"It is more important than ever that we sustain our shared values of mutual respect, support, and compassion for each other, whatever our individual views on the conflict.

"Every member of our community should feel safe and included on our campuses and we ask everyone to respect and support each other at this time.

"There is no place for any form of racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, discrimination, incitement, bullying or harassment at the University of Bristol.

"We are in close contact with all affected communities, including our student societies, to offer ongoing support as required.”