Thursday, 29 January 2009

Dear Vice Chancellor,



I am writing as a senior member of the University (King’s 1973) to express my disquiet at the intolerance which the University authorities appear to be showing towards a group of students peacefully protesting against the invasion of Gaza and occupying some parts of the Law Faculty Building. I have always been proud of the fact that Cambridge University has consistently stood up for the rights of its members to express their beliefs peacefully, to engage in debate and to be allowed to use their privileged status in the world to speak up on behalf of the less-privileged. I have this evening read on-line of apparently spiteful and clearly heavy-handed harassment of these young women and men, who should really rather be applauded and encouraged in their non-violent witness. There is a long and valuable tradition of student protest in Cambridge, and I am proud to have been able to engage in similar activities when I was an undergraduate, and that my daughter did in her turn when she was an undergraduate of the University. I would be grateful if you would take my view into consideration and convey it to the Proctors who are responsible.



Yours sincerely,



Dr Richard Wistreich

46 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. This is an institution of learning, and it is not the place of such an institution to make political statements regarding international situations. If Cambridge makes a statement here, then I will expect a statement to be made regarding every theoretically questionable practice across the globe, including the past suicide bombings of Tel Aviv cafes.

    The bottom line is that these protesters were inhibiting learning, the first and foremost obligation of this university. Furthermore they are breaking the law. Next, they are disrupting the peace to pursue their own selfish political agenda (if protesting was your goal you could have done this on Parker's Piece). Finally they were holding the university hostage by refusing to move until the university succumbed to their demands. All while expecting there to be no repercussions. The irony is not lost on me.

    I sincerely hope that they are summarily expelled and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

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  3. Let's be honest, there's no way any outsider can trust or fully understand either side [occupation / University] of the story here.

    As far as I am concerned, neither side has conducted itself in the manner in which it should: the University does what it always has and always will - mindless bureaucracy, and the occupation should have spent a lot more time engaged in robust Public Relations if it wanted to come off as credible or reasonable.

    The solution: YOU [as an individual member of the occupation] should leave now.

    The only thing you can salvage from this PR mess is your personal integrity, and perhaps your ability to work towards your Gaza-based goals, under a separate group or personal identity, from outside.

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  4. > The bottom line is that these protesters were inhibiting learning,
    this is a blatant overexaggeration.

    > Next, they are disrupting the peace to pursue their own selfish political agenda
    your accusations are overly broad and points to no evidence.

    you have been commenting non-stop on this blog for days now, repeating the same bullshit accusations. given that most law students have shit loads of work, this is extremely suspicious.

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  5. >> you have been commenting non-stop on this blog for days now, repeating the same bullshit accusations. given that most law students have shit loads of work, this is extremely suspicious.

    Well, thank goodness no-one can say that of someone with the time you have. What are you, a public toilet attendant?

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  6. You have masses of support, the ugly behaviour of the Cambridge University makes your case more solid, great work and keep going.

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  7. I'm not sure why we should care what Dr Richard Wistreich, a music professor at Newcastle, thinks. He is not the one having his faculty disrupted...

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  8. infinit0 -

    As usual you are inflating numbers without evidentiary support praying that no one scratches beyond the surface of your allegations to discover the truth. You are using hyperbole and untruths to attempt to bolster an otherwise feeble argument. I have not been on this blog for “days,” barely 12 hours to be accurate, as I had only found out last night how you are holding a classroom hostage subject to your demands.

    And, fyi, I already have my doctorate in law and am pursuing even further education, a concept that seems to be lost on you.
    I hope that you are enjoying the freedom of discussion that you are currently entitled. What you fail to realise is with that freedom comes responsibility. And without responsibility come repercussions.

    I am still waiting for you to show true conviction in your cause and announce your name to the blog. Or are you beginning to realise exactly how much academic, criminal and probably governmental trouble you are actually in?

    Fortunately, the worst thing that will happen to you here is jail or deportation. Praytell, what would happen to you under the Hamas government in Gaza if you were to speak up against its position?

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  9. I am generally against an occupation, whether it is a building, a road, a bridge or anything. It is not democratic and if you are not able to protest and get more support from the public in other ways then think harder or leave it.
    I really hope the university does not set a precedence that it is susceptible to such methods no matter what the cause is.
    Actually I do think that Israel has a moral obligation to prevent and do something about the humanitarian crisis it took a major part in creating.
    But this is not the right way.
    I hope more people who disagree show themselves here and point out how many members of the university are against such methods.

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  10. > What are you, a public toilet attendant?
    actually, i am. got any problems?

    > As usual you are inflating numbers
    I haven't mentioned any numbers. what you are doing over the occupation however, is exaggerating a few individual cases that you have experienced into something important.

    get the phoque over yourself. the occupation of the law faculty was no big deal to the students.

    > I already have my doctorate in law
    nice. is this an admission you're from the faculty?

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  11. by stating that I have been on the blog for "days" implies numbers... how were you accepted to Cambridge?!?!?!

    Because I have a doctoratedoes not mean faculty... again, seriously, how were you accepted to Cambidge? Must have ben the liberal acceptance policy of the university to accept biggots and racists... how kind.

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  12. >> actually, i am. got any problems?

    Hahahaha, after attempting to seize control of the discussion and failing both here and, as it is increasingly apparent, with the faculty, you are now folding like a pack of cards and attempting the weasel your way out in pointless humour!

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  13. And to clarify, as it would appear that you need to be spoken to like a child, I am not a member of the faculty, I am a student at the university.

    Your assumption that this university is more yours than mine, and you can disrupt it as you see fit, is a falacious one.

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  14. > by stating that I have been on the blog for "days" implies numbers... how were you accepted to Cambridge?!?!?!
    non-sequitur: plurality does not imply arithmeticity (which is what "numbers" implies)

    > you are now folding like a pack of cards and attempting the weasel your way out in pointless humour!
    LOL, i find it hilarious that you have resorted to ad-hominem rather than actual counterpoints.

    > Your assumption that this university is more yours than mine,
    LOL, putting words in people's mouths. nice one, lawyers need this skill :)

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  15. Great Job guys :)
    as a former Palestinian student in the UK I'm extremely happy and proud of the student movement in the UK. you guys proved that students can still do something and that the time of apathy is gone.
    I wish I was still there in the UK with all of you.
    don't be intimadet by theuni or the idiots commenting here you have alot of support from all over the world and especially here in palestine
    Best of luck wya'ateekom ila'afye.
    Ghaith

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  16. To add to Nulaw99's clarification, Infinity, you have been both aggressive - effing and blinding - and passive aggressive - attempting to deny me the option of commenting because I am not at Cambridge.

    Haven't you got course work to catch-up on?

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  17. > Infinity, you have been both aggressive - effing and blinding - and passive aggressive - attempting to deny me the option of commenting because I am not at Cambridge.

    yes, of course i have been aggressive. you have been fucking squatting on this blog for days, filling it with crap. i am just balancing it out.

    > deny me the option of commenting because I am not at Cambridge.
    why are you so forceful in your comments then? for all you know, your sources could be exaggeration / inaccurate.

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  18. >> LOL, i find it hilarious that you have resorted to ad-hominem rather than actual counterpoints.

    Do they not teach rhetoric or philosophy at Cambridge? Ad hominem is a general term, meaning simply "towards the man", which represents different rhetorical features. If a convicted embezzler applied for a job in a cash office, it would be an ad hominem to call him untrustworthy 'cos he's a thief... and acceptable.

    If the same convicted embezzler were refused hospital treatment for the same reason, it would be an ad hominem... and unacceptable.

    Non-hypocrites reading this thread will have seen you attempting to dismiss and de-person your critics because it was "suspicious" they had so much time to spend. I merely used the same [attempt at] argument back at you, for comedic effects.

    You're response, like the little narcissist who believes rules don't apply to him that you are, has been to start squealing about decorum; when, in fact, you are calling your original tactic a risible resort to ad hominems.

    You are a bit childish, ain't you?

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  19. Hopefully not Alec, because he will no longer be a student at the university. I had a course taught by the V-C last term, and look forward to chatting with her in length next week :o)

    You are right infinity about one thing... I should not waste any more of my precious time on you or the failure that was the Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Occupation.

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  20. >> yes, of course i have been aggressive.

    Hahaha! Your name vil alzo go on ze lizt, vot ist it?

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pwldGmw4yDo

    Don't tell him, Pike!

    >> you have been fucking squatting on this blog for days, filling it with crap. i am just balancing it out.

    This is a public blog. Had ewes not wanted dissenting voices you'd had stayed with a Facebook group which you can restrict access to for only those opinions which meet with the Central Committee's approval.

    You didn't. Your grasp of argument and debate is as shaky as your judgement of the faculty.

    No wonder you're about to be minced by the Registrary, and now you're lashing out. This is like the final desperate drunken burblings of Nikolai Yezhov!

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  21. > Non-hypocrites reading this thread will have seen you attempting to dismiss and de-person your critics because it was "suspicious" they had so much time to spend.

    ha, i made this one suggestion as a "possibility" and you exploded. ok, i will now concede that you are probably here for your own reasons. that doesn't exclude the possibility of other people commenting as provocation, though.

    > I merely used the same [attempt at] argument back at you, for comedic effects.

    lol, ok, sure, you are the one that is now laughing at me. ^____^

    > You are a bit childish, ain't you?

    "The mind of a child is where the revolution begins"

    i'd rather be childish than a robot.

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  22. >> I should not waste any more of my precious time on you or the failure that was the Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Occupation.

    But, it's bloody hilarious! I only wish this could go on for ever and ever and ever, like poking a bag full of rabid ferrets

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  23. actually i take that back. robots follow logic. you on the other hand seems to have a fetish for law that makes you seriously believe that we cause you some sort of terrible harm.

    heard of the milgram experiment?

    > This is a public blog.

    indeed, what do you think i am doing?

    > But, it's bloody hilarious! I only wish this could go on for ever and ever and ever, like poking a bag full of rabid ferrets

    ahh, the trolled attempts to reverse the situation. soooo predictable. ^___^

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  24. >> ha, i made this one suggestion as a "possibility" and you exploded.

    I am perfectly calm. It's you who's effing and blinding.

    >> "The mind of a child is where the revolution begins"

    What ever keeps your head down sure as heck ain't shame.

    >> lol, ok, sure, you are the one that is now laughing at me. ^____^

    Not only me. That was such a fine house of cards.

    >> i'd rather be childish than a robot.

    As Goring almost said of von Rippentrop, he deserved to be sent down if only for his stupidity.

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  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  26. >> indeed, what do you think i am doing?

    Garbage, absolute garbage. I am not disputing your right to comment here. You are disputing mine.

    You're rattled.

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  27. > I am perfectly calm. It's you who's effing and blinding.
    why of course! not using swear words implies that you're the epitome of calm!

    > Not only me. That was such a fine house of cards.
    of course, i concede, i have been thoroughly humiliated. i will even let you have the last word. here you go :)

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  28. > I am not disputing your right to comment here. You are disputing mine.
    ah, actually i never said this at all.

    > Alec Macpherson said...
    > This post has been removed by the author.
    aww, making hasty posts?

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  29. >> not using swear words implies that you're the epitome of calm!

    I said said it did. Blowing up and effing and blinding at your critics does indicate anger management issues.

    Next straw-man!

    >> of course, i concede, i have been thoroughly humiliated. i will even let you have the last word. here you go :)

    This is weird. Infinity admits to having been completely and utterly humiliated, and takes *pride* in it?

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  30. Alec, I think it is time to leave Che the Extortionist here alone with his thoughts, what fate awaits him and how he has just in one move ruined the rest of his life. His parents will be proud, I'm sure. By even chatting with him we are fueling his narcissism.

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  31. > ah, actually i never said this at all.

    Oh, you're so dim I could almost fancy you!

    >> aww, making hasty posts?

    No, misspelt posts. I got the Preview and Post buttons mixed up. I hope you're not being a totalitarian little bully again.

    Go on, tell us your name.

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  32. >> I said said it did.

    That should have been "never said it did".

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  33. http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=560

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  34. I can't believe I've just spent 10 minutes going through Alec and nulaw's idiotic comments.

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  35. I can believe that your personal standards are so low that you: a) didn't give up after two or three, as I often do when waiting on telephone helplines; b) advertized your willingly wasting ten minutes of your life which you'll never see again; c) after Infinity's clear disdain towards argumentum ad hominem, deliver little more than an argumentum ad personam.

    Little bit of self-awareness forming?

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  36. OK, I stopped reading about half-way down the previous comments, but I just want to add my thoughts to the debate.

    -> If people want to take action on other world issues, I would support them and probably take part. Gaza is not the only one that any of the people inside the occupation care about or are actively addressing: it is the most pressing one at the moment, and one they felt that waving placards only to be ignored was not enough to address.

    -> Disruption to the law faculty was minimal - we occupied a social space and one lecture room, which we were sure to leave available for lectures. Any further disruption beyond occasional bursts of clapping was caused by the university, in an underhanded ploy to avoid engaging with our demands properly. This was the culmination of their ongoing efforts to ensure that active student voices are ignored and caricatured, which the wider student body are shamefully complicit in.

    -> Hats off to TCS: it would seem that students interested in journalism have some integrity and moral courage, as well as those willing to be deprived of sleep and fall behind on their degrees in an effort to make a statement and a difference to the lives of others. Frankly, I'm sick of hearing that there are other worthy issues or condemnable actions. We won't be the ones criticising from the sidelines if people decide to take radical action on them. In fact, we'd probably be the people taking that action.

    -> The trouble with Israel is that its actions are legitimised time and time again. I've asked before and I'll ask again, who here endorses, or knows of any major world power that endorses, suicide bombings, rocket attacks, dictatorships, homophobia, or any other human rights abuses except those perpetrated by the Israeli government against the people of Palestine?

    -> Academics of the university have as much right as the students to raise their heads above the parapet and show the courage of their convictions. Even ones now based in Newcastle.

    -> 'Democracy' does not mean inactive people expecting to make a difference. It means the actions of conscientious people being given a platform. If that platform has to be peacefully seized, then so be it. Frankly, the suffering of law students over the last week, whilst unfortunate and shameful on the part of the university authorities, is not the worst thing in the world. How many law students would have chosen to spend the last week in Gaza instead?

    -> The demands merely expressed what students would ideally like to happen: negotiations were the point at which what could and should happen were determined. There is no reason why we shouldn't have set a precedent of the university being politicised. Politics is just people, and surely education is all about people?

    For more of my thoughts on this matter, take a look at my new blog http://politicisedandproudofit.blogspot.com/

    If you're critical of the actions of Cambridge Gaza Solidarity, then perhaps you might like to come along to our open meeting, and help contribute to our efforts to constructively make a difference?

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  37. >> If you're critical of the actions of Cambridge Gaza Solidarity, then perhaps you might like to come along to our open meeting, and help contribute to our efforts to constructively make a difference?

    Once more, are you willing to finance my travel and accommodation? Secondly, if you do not believe blogging is a 'proper' way of expressing one's views, why start a blog?

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  38. Is there something you'd like me to feed into the open meeting, then?

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  39. >> Is there something you'd like me to feed into the open meeting, then?

    If my feelings haven't been made clear on this and other threads, I doubt the meeting will be any more receptive to dissenting opinions in person.

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  40. My advice to the open meeting would be to abandon your one-sided ideology and naive methodology. Would that go down well?

    To get back to the serious stuff, I've heard liberals justify anti-Israeli one-sidedness many times with the argument that, since all Western governments already condemn Hamas, there's no point condemning them.

    I think there is a kind of naive rebel-ideology at work on here, that says nothing's worth saying unless it goes against the established view. I know because I used to think that way.

    But some obvious things really are worth saying, lest the established view changes. I went to a secondary school in Manchester where real anti-semitism was all over the playground. I'm not exaggerating. The established view was that the Palestinians could do no wrong. The established view was that Israel were terrorists and Hamas were freedom fighters. The established view was that the Holocaust was no worse than what Israel was doing. I still hear a lot of this shit in Cambridge, where people are meant to be cleverer.

    (1) If their actions are so appalling, what's lost by condemning them?

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  41. it's very simple.. arabs and muslims do not condemn arabs and muslims... sadly, in many cases, their lives are dependent on it.

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  42. >> To get back to the serious stuff, I've heard liberals justify anti-Israeli one-sidedness many times with the argument that, since all Western governments already condemn Hamas, there's no point condemning them.

    Which, funnily, is precisely what Western leftists and out-right Communists were doing regarding the U.S.S.R. last century, even after 1968, to the extent of shunning genuine dissidents from Bloc countries (or, even, the moles selling them out).

    When I was becoming politically cognizant, you still heard the line that "peace activists" or leftists were in the pay of Moscow. Ridiculous, I said. Then, you know what, we started finding out just how many *were* in the pay of Moscow (via Czech intelligence, often).

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  43. If anyone on here wants Cambridge University to explicitly condemn Hamas, feel free to try to get them to. We were concerned with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which reference to Hamas cannot justify Israel causing, no matter how much one loves Israel, hates Hamas or feels that zionism is an expression of their Judaism.

    Just wanted to get that out there.

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  44. Hi,

    Firstly, I want to say that I'm in agreement that certain aspects of Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip have been pretty appalling.

    However, I'd also like to say that I'm pretty proud of the University's response to a pretty infantile protest. They tolerated an occupation that had a massively disruptive effect on a large number of students (while refusing to give in to your demands) and allowed you a fair amount of time to indulge your 'spirit of '68'. During which time, you succeeded in alienating yourselves from the student body of Cambridge (who, as a bunch, are pretty liberal) and making yourselves look a bit silly (not to mention violent and childish).

    In some fairly interesting discussions with my JCR Vice President and members of my college, a recurring theme came out. That, while there was a great deal of sympathy in the student body towards some of your less ridiculous aims, no-one really thought much of your methods. It seemed, from the start, an exercise in self-promotion more than a real effort to improve things for the Palestinians. The result of the CUSU open meeting showed the University that the student body supported neither your aims or your methods.

    Cambridge University students are a fairly politicised bunch - we care about Palestine, we care about ethnic cleansing in the Congo, we care about the civil war in Sri Lanka. But we can see that a self-important, unworkable protest is a waste of time - if you disagree with British Foreign policy, why not march on the FCO? I might even join you, if you make your demands a little less obviously pro-Hamas.

    I'm glad you rah-rah-revolutionaries failed in your little sleep-over. Hopefully, next time, you'll make some sort of effort to engage with the student body of the University and CUSU. Or at least leave the student voice for the majority.

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