Societies speak out against College response to Gaza: “There can be no neutrality in the face of genocide”

Several societies have expressed their solidarity with the BDS encampment and defended students’ right to protest

A number of college societies have released statements criticising College’s lacklustre response to Israel’s assault on Gaza and supporting the Trinity Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (Trinity BDS) encampment.

In an Instagram post made yesterday, the Politics Society stated that while they are a politically neutral society, “our neutral position does not extend to neutrality on genocide”.

They added that “to stay silent on an issue of genocide is unacceptable”. They cited the “scholasticide in Gaza” as a “particularly troubling action by Israel”.

They also criticised Trinity’s response to the conflict, calling the provost’s recent comments “highly disappointing”.

“They read as equating support of and opposition to genocide as two equally valid opinions. And although she calls for open discussion, there is none: the college’s management has effectively ignored students’ protests for months.”

They highlighted the hypocrisy of College’s response to Gaza compared to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022: “There was no debate over the sides behind Russia’s invasion; to suggest that there needs to be any sort of lengthy debate over whether to divest from Israel’s genocide reflects poorly on the college’s integrity.”

They also stated their support for “the rights of all to express their opinions, including to voice their concern and dissent via protest”, and said that they “will continue to provide resources for anyone to educate themselves on the topic”.

Following this, DU History Society took to Instagram to “applaud the action taken by Trinity BDS, and to express solidarity with them as well as the students’ union”.

The society said that they “commend all students and staff exercising their fundamental right to protest this injustice through involvement in the encampment, and hope that all demands are swiftly met by the university.”

“As students, and as a society, with a deep love of history, the past week has been of great interest and importance to us, as it is clear we are living through a significant moment in the history of our college and student activism around the world”.

They added that the actions of College Board and the provost’s office are a “serious abuse of power”.

The society has also committed to “make available to members information regarding the ongoing conflict in Gaza, and the current BDS Encampment taking place on campus”.

TCD Environmental Society also posted a statement to Instagram today, stating that they would “like to reaffirm the demands of the protest as stated by TCD BDS, namely divestment, solidarity. and commitment to reparations for the college’s continued complicity in genocide and ecocide in Palestine”.

“As an environmental society, we cannot stand by ecocide. The extent of the environmental devastation intentionally perpetrated by the state of Israel in Palestine undeniably amounts to ecocide.”

They added: “As human beings, we cannot stand by genocide. 35,000 people have been murdered in Gaza since October. Benches can be returned to their place, but those precious lives will never be returned. Out of basic human empathy, we must fight for an end to this unfathomable suffering by any means available and necessary.”

They noted that “of particular concern is our college’s ties to these egregious crimes”, and cited “investment in UN blacklisted firms”, “ties with Israeli institutions that directly contribute to the destructive war machine” and “a clandestine meeting with the U.S. military, the foremost polluter on earth”.

The society also called on people to “support the encampment however they can, and remind students that they are welcome to join even if they don’t camp”.

“There can be no neutrality in the face of genocide,” the statement concluded.

These statements follow an Instagram post made by the Muslim Students Association on Saturday, which expresses a “steadfast support for TCD BDS and their current encampment”.

They said that they “stand firmly with our fellow students in advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people”

They added: “It is our duty as Muslims to uphold the teachings of Islam, which emphasise the importance of standing up against oppression and supporting the oppressed”. The society has called on College to “cut its ties with Israel”.

Societies are typically expected not to make “political” statements, and have drawn the ire of the Central Societies Committee (CSC) in the past for doing so.

In November, the CSC advised societies not to use society rooms to take part in a pro-Palestinian flag-drop demonstration in College Green.

“As students, you may of course support the SU in their work, however, your opinions cannot be expressed under the guise of your society, unless it is explicitly within your society’s aims and objectives,” societies were told.

A poll conducted by Trinity News found overwhelming approval for the Gaza solidarity encampment led by Trinity BDS. Of 1,360 students polled, 80.44% said they approved of the encampment, which began on Friday evening.

Kate Byrne

Kate Byrne is the Deputy Comment Editor at Trinity News and is currently in her Junior Sophister Year studying History and Political Science.