{} Sheffield University Camp: the case against 

Supplementary: other encampments, the same stupidity

 

Oxford University

 

From the page

https://oxfordgazastaffsolidarity.wordpress.com/

which gives a list of Oxford University staff who have signed up to the multiple falsifications and omissions of the statement. A partial list is provided below. The material in this section can also be found on my page Cambridge University (and Royal Holloway and Oxford University): excellence, mediocrity, stupidity
with a full list of signatories.

 

The statement incudes this:

 

We join our students in asking that the university review its ethical investment policy to explicitly restrict all investment – direct or indirect – in arms, weapons, and other instruments of war. To this end, we ask that the University instruct Oxford University Endowment Management to make available the granular detail of any investment in portfolios that may include arms investment, or investment in other instruments of war such as warplanes, so that we can have an open discussion on this issue with all the facts in hand.

Can the signers explain how Ukraine can resist Russian forces without the help of 'instruments of war such as warplanes,' or how Great Britain could have resisted Nazi aggression without the help of 'instruments of war such as warplanes,' Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lancasters and the rest?

Profiles of an assotment of academics and others in the list will be added to this page

 

List of signatories

  1. Walter Armbrust, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  2. Robert Gildea, Emeritus Professor of Modern History
  3. Karma Nabulsi, Professor Emerita and Senior Research Fellow, St Edmund Hall
  4. Sudhir Hazareesingh, Fellow in Politics, Balliol College
  5. Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College and former Professor of International Relations
  6. Neta C Crawford, Montague Burton Professor of International Relations and Fellow of the British Academy 
  7. Arathi Sriprakash, Professor of Sociology and Education 
  8. James McDougall, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History
  9. Wes Williams, Professor of French
  10. Patricia Owens, Professor of International Relations
  11. Nikita Sud, Professor of the Politics of Development, Oxford Department of International Development and Wolfson College
  12. Bernard Sufrin, Emeritus Fellow, Worcester College and Department of Computer Science 
  13. Marilyn Booth, Emerita Khalid Bin Abdallah Al Saud Professor for the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  14. Pablo Mukherjee, Professor of Anglophone World-Literature, Faculty of English 
  15. Sneha Krishnan, Associate Professor in Human Geography 
  16. Dario Carugo, Associate Professor, Medical Sciences Division
  17. Debbie Hopkins, Associate Professor in Human Geography
  18. Sophie Smith, Associate Professor of Political Theory 
  19. Meera Sabaratnam, Associate Professor of International Relations
  20. Jeanne Morefield, Associate Professor of Political Theory
  21. Nayanika Mathur, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies 
  22. Katherine Ibbett, Professor of French
  23. Amia Srinivasan, Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory 
  24. Daniela Dover, Associate Professor of Philosophy
  25. Kate Tunstall, Professor of French
  26. Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History
  27. Jocelyn Alexander, Professor of Commonwealth Studies
  28. Simukai Chigudu, Associate Professor of African Politics
  29. Maryam Alamzadeh, Associate Professor, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies
  30. Raihan Ismail, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  31. Barbara Harriss-White, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies
  32. Paul Dresch, Emeritus Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford
  33. Morgan Clarke, Professor of Social Anthropology, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
  34. Roxana Banu, Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall and the Faculty of Law
  35. Leila Ullrich, Associate Professor of Criminology 
  36. Stuart White, Associate Professor in Politics
  37. Chihab El Khachab, Associate Professor in Visual Anthropology, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
  38. Ian Klinke, Associate Professor in Human Geography
  39. Patrick McGuinness, Professor of French and Comparative Literature
  40. Amanda Power, Associate Professor of Medieval History
  41. Jeremy Johns, Emeritus Professor of the Art and Archaeology of the Islamic Mediterranean
  42. Gillian Rose, Professor of Human Geography
  43. Zeynep Yurekli, Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  44. Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography
  45. Federica Genovese, Professor of Political Science and International Relations and Fellow at St Antony’s
  46. Alain George, I.M. Pei Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture
  47. Naomi Waltham-Smith, Professor of Music and Douglas Algar Tutorial Fellow, Merton College
  48. Heath Rose, Professor of Applied Linguistics
  49. Mohamed-Salah Omri, Professor, Faculty of Asian and Middle East Studies
  50. Laura Fortunato, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Institute of Human Sciences & Magdalen College
  51. Asli Niyazioglu, Associate Professor of Ottoman History
  52. Thomas Puschel Associate Professor in Evolutionary Anthropology
  53. Jennifer Lauren Martin, Senior Tutor, Ruskin School of Art
  54. Madhavi Krishnan, Professor of Physical Chemistry
  55. Emily Jones, Associate Professor, Blavatnik School of Government
  56. Katharine Burn, Associate Professor of Education
  57. Shankar Srinivas, Professor of Developmental Biology
  58. Mina Fazel, Professor of Adolescent Psychiatry
  59. Laura Stevens, Associate Professor of Climate, Department of Earth Sciences
  60. Patricia Thornton, Associate Professor in Politics
  61. Tim Schwanen, Professor of Transport Geography, Transport Studies Unit
  62. Reuben Binns, Associate Professor, Computer Science
  63. Rachel Murphy, Professor of Chinese Development and Society
  64. Maria Midra, Professor of Global History
  65. Filippo de Vivo, Professor of Early Modern History
  66. Laura Ashe, Professor of English Literature
  67. Faridah Zaman, Associate Professor of the History of Britain and the World
  68. Katrin Mueller-Johnson, Associate Professor of Criminology
  69. Tahera Qutbuddin, AlBabtain Laudian Professor of Arabic, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  70. Steve Puttick, Associate Professor of Teacher Education

 

 

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Below, an extract in a single column (with some new material - images of some protesters, and links, in a short second column to the right) from   my page  Sheffield Dales, which has multiple columns. The material appears in the second column of that page. A screen of some size is needed to view the page. This page can be viewed on a small screen but a larger screen is preferable.

This page and the page   Sheffield Dales include material on the severe fire risk at the Protest Camp at Sheffield University and many other objections to the Camp. Sheffield Dales has much more varied material on pro-Palestinian anti-Israeli organizations, including Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) and Sheffield Green Party.

NEW PAGE: now posted, on Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine, to be used also for newer material on SPSC.

See   my page on Israel,  which includes, in the second column, a section on gross misuse of the word 'genocide' and material on killing of civilians in war. And, also the section below Israeli-Palestinian relations: the case for Israel.  I'll mention here an issue not raised in any other place on this page but mentioned in my page on Israel: animal cruelty in Gaza. Be sure to watch this video on the subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9r57zlbLmk

The animals were exported from Australia and the video was released by the animal welfare organization 'Animals Australia.'

Above, a neat row of tents, with a large number of other tents behind them, at the student encampment. Photograph taken 27.05.2024. The (negligent) organizers: Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine. The two photographs showing sheets of cardboard, hands and feet are explained below. Photographs taken 29.05.2024.



Above, two photographs showing the proximity of tents to the university building, taken 26.05.2024 and 27.05.2024.

Fire and Rescue services make it clear that tents should be a minimum of 6 metres apart, so that a fire in one tent doesn’t spread to other tents. Most of these tents are touching. All over the encampment, tents are packed closely. There's no 6 metre gap between the tent on the right and the Student Union building. A fire in one of the tents would probably consume the tent (and any people in the tent) within a minute and the fire would spread very rapidly to other tents in the row and the ones behind. The Student Union building would be in danger. Quantities of flammable material in and near to many tents in the camp would feed the flames.

I informed the university and found the response naive, disturbing. An email sent to me includes this: ‘ … additional extinguishers have been positioned in nearby buildings for use by Security or Students' Union staff in the event of a fire within the encampment.' In almost all cases, reaching a fire before it gets out of control would be impossible, due to inevitable delays and extreme congestion in the area.

This is after I'd pointed out the fire risks, after the Sheffield University authorities had assured me that improvements had been made. As it happens, I took a photograph of this area before I reported the fire risks to Sheffield University and this is the photograph, included in the 'pre-improvement' photographs below:

There were fewer tents in this area before the 'improvements' than after, the degree of overcrowding was less - but tents extend up to the building, putting the building at risk in the event of fire which has started far away from this area.  After the 'improvements,' the fire risk was greater, not less.

I called at the encampment on 29 May, intending to film there so that I could update the record but I wasn't able to film. Three students held two large pieces of cardboard in front of me, but their action wasn't the reason why it wouldn't have been a good idea to film. I'm sure that the students were misguided to take this action, but they were very pleasant people and it was a pleasure to talk to them - but not on the subject of Israel and Palestine.

The reason why I didn't film and couldn't realistically film was the presence of a very different kind of person, who stood very near to me but higher up, on the concrete seating nearby, without saying anything. His face couldn't be seen. Only the eyes were visible, the rest was swathed in cloth, a sinister looking and aggressive presence, common enough in fanatical protests but someone who is surely harmful to the reputation of Sheffield University.

 People like this, incidents like this, have the potential to deter applicants to the university, deter grant-givers. So much in this environment could deter applicants and deter grant-givers - graffiti are now out of control, covering very large areas. Amongst the graffiti I saw - and recorded and published on this page - are that well-known statement of hate, 'From the river to the sea ... '

His silent presence obviously amounted to an attempt to intimidate me. I could have filmed and defended myself if he'd tried aggressive action to stop me filming - I would definitely have defended myself in case of attack- but I decided that it wouldn't be worth the risk of complications and repercussions in the event of a serious incident.

 It's essential to oppose such people, not to let them get away with it, enemies, surely, of values which society should protect at all costs, which  individuals should do everything in their power to protect. But resistance to fanaticism should be as effective as possible and a direct confrontation with one particular individual is often not the most effective way.

I've informed the university about the various incidents, the repeated attempts to stop me taking photographs and filming but I've got nowhere. No action has been taken. The photographs and filming have given me a great deal of evidence, and not just about the fire risk in the encampment. On this occasion, I wasn't able to gain more evidence in the form of photographs and film and I don't intend to come back to the site until Sheffield University takes action to allow me to exercise my lawful right to photograph and film, and my lawful right to walk where I want in this public place - a right denied by a student and non-student who obstructed me. The details are below.  It isn't only staff and students whose rights and interests have to be protected. Visitors such as myself have to be able to carry out reasonable activities safely. 

Meanwhile, an area which had no tents at all before the 'improvements' now has a large tent-group which constitutes a new and substantial fire hazard, the area below the concrete supports, some distance from the open air section which contains most of the tents. A photograph showing part of  this area below the concrete supports:

This camp, like other pro-Palestinian camps in the country, is vulnerable. The UCU (University College Union) wrote 'with regards to the safety of the students in the University of Leeds encampment ... escalating threats of violence and disturbance late at night ... ' and students threatened with weapons, including a knife.'

UCU have had no idea about the serious dangers of fire at encampments. The danger of arson attacks can't be excluded. The outcome of an arson attack would very likely be massive, given the indifference to fire safety in the Sheffield encampment at least - and probably at most or all of the other encampments.

In this column, I give other objections to the encampment as well, very varied and wide-ranging ones.

For thetime being, the material is in two sections, an organizing principle which will be modified to provide a simpler one.  After the email: photographs and comment, with a copy of an email from the university to me which claimed all kinds of improvements in a setup which I'd pointed out was a massive fire risk. My reply to the email. The photographs, taken 27 May 2024, show that the dangers are the same as before the 'improvements.'  The tents have to be taken down. The encampment has to go. The organizers, Campus Coalition for Palestine, have shown no awareness of fire safety issues, effectively no interest in the safety of students, staff and visitors to the site. This section contains a copy of the email from the university to me and my reply to the email.

The organizers have no interest in a whole range of other issues, including security issues. Amongst their demands: a demand that the University should withdraw from any participation in manufacture and supply of armaments. This is hideous ignorance, which if achieved - but it will never be achieved - would withdraw support from Ukraine, leave the United Kingdom unprotected against the threat from Putin's Russia and other threats. The threat of invasion from Nazi Germany wasn't overcome by posturing but by use of armaments. Nazism in Europe and beyond was defeated by using armaments.

 Before the email: photographs and comment. The situation before the so-called 'improvements.'  Most of the detailed argument and evidence against the encampment is in this much longer section.

The organizers regard this not as a student encampment but as a staff-student encampment. I only know of one staff supporter, Dr Lisa Stampnitzky of the Department of Politics and International Relations. I'd claim that she's much more than a supporter - an active propagandist, but not an active or effective propagandist. I've now spent many hours at the encampment, amongst other activities simply observing. I've never seen her there once. I've also seen practically no interest on the part of students or any others in the encampment. Many people walk past but if they do look at the encampment and its publicity materials, they do so only momentarily. In all the hours spent there, I've seen only one member of the public walk up and ask questions. I did see one person, perhaps a member of staff, in conversation with the students there, apparently about matters unrelated to the protest. The only students I've personally witnessed engaging in conversation there are people who are themselves students and supporters of the encampment.

'Palestine Camp' Bulletin Issue 1 (6 May, 2024) includes this claim, ' ... we are building power ... we are part of a national and international student movement, sweeping the country and the globe.'

These claims are based on illusion and delusion. For the time being, they are having an impact - a very harmful impact - but the impact will be temporary. It will do nothing to resolve the intractable problems of this part of the Middle East. It gives active support to Hamas and other terroristic organizations, Iran and other terroristic powers. It's based on grossly inadequate analyses, grossly unfair comparisons, complete failure to take into account detailed and fair-minded analyses of such issues as genocide, the killing of non-combatants in war. It reduces the massive and wide-ranging problems of the world to this single issue, in general ignoring other concerns, including concerns which have direct relevance to these issues.

A wide range of far-left parties are actively supporting the student (supposedly staff-student) encampments. They include the Revolutionary Communist Party, which has 'thrown itself into the struggle, fighing to escalate the movement and to bring down the imperialists.' They include 'Socialist Alternative,' which  'is mobilising in solidarity and committed to building this movement.' And, also, The Socialist Workers Party, which describes itself as 'a revolutionary socialist party '

'Preparing for power' is the title of a book which outlines the pathetic politics of the Revolutionary Communist Power. Of course, the party never had the least chance of gaining political power by democratic means. None of these tiny parties has had the least chance of gaining power by electoral means. Generally, these parties have avoided elections and lost deposits, sustaining their fantasies by the propaganda they believe in but which has no chance of convincing the mass of people.

They are in a political wilderness but not, of course, the only players in the political space. They have opponents, including the populist right and the extreme right, including the neo-Nazi right - the neo-Nazis share some of the views of many pro-Palestinian protesters on Israel and the elimination of Israel.

See also, on other pages, comment on 
Cambridge University and Royal Holloway
Harvard University

After the email

Photographs after the improvements
Copy of the email
Reply to the email

Before the email

Ignorance of fire dangers
Dr Lisa Stampnitzky and Sheffield Camping- Campus Coalition for Palestine, SU
SU Department of Politics and International Relations: reasons to avoid
The Concourse Camp: the case against, including fire danger
My involvement in fire safety work
Israeli-Palestinian relations: the case for Israel. Includes discussion of civilian casualties in time of war and the gross unfairness of accusations of genocide in connection with Israel
What do the student protesters at the camp want? What are their demands?
UCU (University and College Union)
Professor Umberto Albarella,  SU
Dr A Takriti,  SU
Some Sheffield University Signatories:
Dr J. Nyman, Dr L. Stanley, Dr J. Tidy et al.

Other people, other issues

Professor Matthew Flinders,  SU
Sheffield University: architecture
Sheffield University: achievement
Sheffield Hallam University: the Vision
Professor A. Macaskill, SHU
Sheffield Hallam University: architecture

SU: Sheffield University SHU: Sheffield Hallam

Photographs after the 'improvements,'  taken 27 May, 2024 in the Concourse, Sheffield University. The student encampment.

After the 'improvements,' much more graffiti. Tents still packed closely together, touching or only slightly separated in most cases, ignoring the advice that tents should be separated by a minimum of 6 metres at least so that a fire in one tent doesn't quickly consume the whole tent area - with the people in them. After the improvements, still masses of flammable material which would fuel the fire. After the improvements, still no change in the attitude of the camp protesters. I made it clear that the law allowed me to take photographs. The photographs I'd taken documented the extreme fire risks. When I've started taking photographs, students have been infuriated, or in a state of panic, tried to stop me, obstructed me. This is an area where the law doesn't apply, they would like to think.

Above and below, graffiti on concrete supports. Graffiti above: 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.' From 'Palestine Camp, Bulletin - Issue 1, 6 May 2024:1 'We want to cover every surface we can with chalk and banners demanding liberation.' Producing surfaces which are ugly, very common in areas of high crime.

Above, this area before the coming of the Propaganda Camp.

Below, photographs showing the open air section of the camp, again, taken 27 May 2024.

Extract from the email sent to me by a senior member of the university

Dear Mr Hurt,

 

Thank you for your emails to the Vice-Chancellor and other colleagues. The Vice-Chancellor has asked me to respond on his behalf. 

 

As a university, we are committed to protecting and promoting freedom of speech and association within the law and fostering an environment that encourages the free exchange of ideas. This includes our students' right to carry out lawful and peaceful protest. 

The current protest on campus has so far been largely peaceful, however we continue to remind the protestors of our expected standards of behaviour for any protest activity. 

 

Our top priority is maintaining the safety and wellbeing of our entire university community. 

We are closely monitoring the current situation on campus. CCTV of the area is being regularly monitored and extra patrols from security staff are being undertaken.

We have been regularly checking in with the protestors to ensure their own safety and wellbeing and that they are following guidance to protect the safety and wellbeing of others.

We have provided the protestors with guidance on fire safety and asked them to ensure tents are positioned away from other tents and adjacent buildings.

 

We have stressed the importance of not blocking fire exits or having any ignition sources or naked flames in or around the tents. As an added precaution, we have also provided aerosol fire extinguishers that are multi-purpose and safe to use on any type of fire.

 

As an operational measure, additional extinguishers have been positioned in nearby buildings for use by Security or Students' Union staff in the event of a fire within the encampment.

 

I hope this message reassures you that we are closely monitoring this situation and that we are prioritising safety and wellbeing on campus.

Reply to the email sent to me: extract

... I have now had the time to study your email in more detail, including the very sparse treatment of fire safety,

I am astonished that such a superficial document was ever allowed to be sent. The measures which you have put in place, heavily reliant upon the good will of the protesting students, are completely deficient. To give just one example, in my principal email on fire safety, I stressed the speed with which fire could take hold -  the destruction of a tent in a mere 60 seconds, perhaps. In that time, adjacent tents would have caught fire  and could well be destroyed -  together with their occupants -  in another 60 seconds. Yet you write, in your email, 'As an operational measure, additional extinguishers have been positioned in nearby buildings for use by Security or Students' Union staff in the event of a fire within the encampment.' In the time it would take for Security or Students' Union staff to reach the area with their fire extinguishers, it would be far too late. The damage would have been done, the lives would have been lost. You have failed to consider the welfare of security staff, expected, it seems to dash out with fire extinguishers in an attempt to extinguish a fire which is already much too big to be put out by such means - possibly risking injury or worse in the process. You haven't thought things through at all. 

The distances between tents is one of the most important of all considerations, yet you are vague on this matter. I gave 6 metres between tents as a very commonly recommended minimum.  The advice you have given to the protestors: they have been asked 'to ensure tents are positioned away from other tents and adjacent buildings.' You have not the least idea, obviously, about the importance of avoiding vague and subjective phrasing in giving advice on safety matters. Advice phrased in this way is far more easily disregarded than when the advice is precise and authoritative. 

You may have stressed the importance of not having any ignition sources or naked flames in or around the tents but good safety advice never places undue reliance upon the perfectibility of human nature. People who in normal circumstances are reasonably safety conscious may fail in some circumstances. Safety regulations should incorporate multiple safeguards. So, the rules concerning minimum distances between tents limit the damage if in one tent, an individual does behave recklessly and makes use of naked flames. At least the fire is unlikely to spread to other tents. 

The approach to fire safety at Sheffield University, at least in the case of this issue, falls well below minimum standards  - taking care not to generalize, to separate the negligent people from the people who bear no responsibility. It isn't 'Sheffield University' which is culpable in this matter but, I think, people at a high level of seniority.'

...

Before the email

Ignorance of fire dangers

The images above show that the tents at the  Pro-Palestinian Camp in Sheffield University Concourse, near the Student Union building, are very closely spaced. For larger images of the tents packed together, conditions in the Camp Site and some of the people, please click here. Very often,  the tents are touching or almost touching. The recommendation, made again and again by Fire and Rescue Services and camping organizations, is this:

Tents should be at least 6 metres apart, to avoid the spread of fire.

At this camp, a grossly excessive number of tents have been packed into the available space.

A tent can be consumed by fire in 60 seconds and at this camp, fire would spread from tent to tent with dramatic speed. Tents are waterproof, not flameproof.  Flammable materials abound in the large tents which would feed the fire and there are no fire extinguishers. Fire regulations have been ignored at this camp. This camp isn't a 'Safe Space' but a dangerous one.

'Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine,' the organizers, and Sheffield University have been risking disaster. In the event of fire, the closeness of the tents would not only have accelerated the spread of fire but limited the ability of tent occupants to get out of the tent and get out of the area. The occupants would have got in each others' way, very likely increasing the fatality rate and the injury rate - a scene which could involve students trapped in an inferno in the middle of the night.

There would have been very severe legal consequences, very severe general consequences, the University suffering catastrophic harm, its reputation suffering catastrophic harm.

Some users of the camping area have actively tried to prevent me from taking photographs, by means which include active obstruction, blocking my path.  I've pointed out that the law allows me to take photographs - and to go where I want in this public space -  and I've gone ahead and taken photographs, to document  conditions at the site.

Dr Lisa Stampnitzky and Sheffield Camping-Campus Coalition for Palestine

Dr Stampnitzky is an academic in the Department of Politics and International Relations, a department which has very serious flaws, as I see it. More on this in the section below, Sheffield University Department of Politics and International Relations: reasons to avoid.   The people who should consider doing the avoiding are prospective students, people who are considering an application to the department for undergraduate and graduate degrees - I take the view that an application would be very mistaken - and, also, a variety of grant-awarding bodies, who could and should consider other, far more worthy recipients for their cash.

Dr Stampnitzky is an advocate for the 'encampment' which was set up on May 1, 2024 near to the University Union building and other Sheffield University buildings. She  advocates grossly unrealistic, unachievable, deluded objectives of the kind also promoted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and similar organizations.

At the time of writing (14 May, 2024) the encampment is still there. It is defunct in one sense, an obvious failure. In the periods I've observed the comings and goings in the area I've seen virtually no interest in the encampment. I've seen a single visitor who seemed to know some of the students taking part in the project and another visitor who presumably talked to them about the aims and objectives of the project. Nobody else at all.

But in this two week period, the encampment has been a deeply disturbing presence. Walking towards the encampment on one side, there can be seen a crude painting of bloodstained hands.

Just visible is the slogan, 'Stop Israeli killing,' more clearly shown in this poster:

Jewish students should have the same right as other students to make use of the Union building but Dr Stampnitzky seems to have other ideas. Palestinian Solidarity Campaign protests go on for relatively short periods and have been disastrous in their effects - and ineffectual, achieving nothing. This and similar encampments have stayed put for a long period and have been disastrous in their effects - and, like the shorter protests, have been ineffectual, achieving nothing. The slogan, 'Ceasefire NOW' typifies the complete disregard for realities, no more achievable than 'World Peace NOW' would be.

The university authorities have allowed the situation to go on and on. There are consequences - this has done the reputation of Sheffield University no good at all, but I see the need to make the necessary distinctions. There's a scrawled slogan accusing the AMRC, the Sheffield University Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre of contributing to the killing of Palestinians because of its work on aircraft components. AMRC is superb, deeply impressive, with enormous and wide ranging benefits, including benefits for their apprentices. The benefits to security are enormous too. Putin's aggression in Ukraine has concentrated many, many minds. Peace is precarious, to live in peace requires enormous effort, time and money. Without advanced armaments, democracies go under and lose their freedom.

As I show below, there are academics in the Department of Politics and International Relations, who imagine that defence against aggression has no need of armaments. My view is that for this reason alone, this is not a department which can be taken seriously. 

I first visited the encampment just after 7a.m. on a Sunday morning, 12 May. These are some of the photographs I took. There were many, many tents there but just three students. One or two students may have slept one or two nights in one or two tents but I think it's very unlikely that it amounted to more than this.  I very much doubt that Dr Stampnitzky has spent a night in one of the tents.

A fuller account will be needed to do justice to this misinformed and deluded lecturer. I include in this section a brief summary of 'the case for Israel' which appears in my page on Israel. It provides argument and evidence which she and the people taking part in this encampment could consider. The possibility that they will make a case for their own views, use counter-arguments and counter-evidence against arguments and evidence which are contrary to views - the possibility is non-existent, of course.

Below, tents in the Councourse area. The area is meant to be for multiple use but now a large part is for the exclusive use of a a single faction. The area has a very impressive lighting system, which also makes the area safe at night, but now the area is surely less secure at night. It's cluttered, all parts can't be viewed easily, and the tents will present potential hiding places. The area has deteriorated. There are now scrawled slogans on walls and other surfaces, there are crude political graffiti - crude in their execution, crude in the political thinking which underlies them.

Below, Camp Graffiti. From the leaflet 'Palestine Camp:' We want to ... cover every surface we can with chalk and banners'


On my second visit, on Monday 13 May, I stayed at the site for almost two hours. Most of the time was spent in scrutiny and observation. Changes had been made since my earlier visit. Very untidy areas had been tidied up and the difference was very noticeable. At the time of the earlier visit, there were just three participating students but on the second visit there were many more. I would think that a determined attempt had been made to show that this was a well-staffed operation. The lack of inquirers and visitors to the encampment was, though, very obvious.

I was given a double sided information sheet (or propaganda sheet), 'Palestine Camp,' Bulletin - Issue 1: 06/05/24. It may be that Issue 1 was the one and only issue. There's a prominent call which, gives later lack of obvious interest, reeks of desperation:

Students and staff: join the camp!

The propaganda sheet makes this claim:

'We are part of a national and international student movement, sweeping the country and the globe. Sixteen British universities are in revolt; by next week there will be twenty-five.'

'We want to be visible so more people can join us. We want to show the uni that from here we can only get stronger. We are guided by our compassion and love.'

One striking and significant fact.  In all the time I've spent at the camp so far, I've only seen one member of the public, or anyone else, such as staff or student, come up to one or more students and enquire. There are plenty of passers by but they don't appear to take any interest in the displays. If they do look, it's only momentarily. On the evidence I have, it seems clear that they're failing to have an impact. They have absolutely no chance of achieving the naive and ridiculous objectives mentioned in their leaflet, 'Palestine Camp.' There's not a trace of ever-increasing power and impact, of an unstoppable force. Claims to the contrary are just words, empty verbiage.

I asked students who belonged to the encampment for their views on the horrific events of October7, the Hamas attack on Israel, I asked for their views on the treatment of homosexuals in Gaza, where homosexuality is subject to punishment for up to ten years, I asked for their views on Iran, the supporter of Hamas. I mentioned sentences of stoning to death for adultery in Iran. I mentioned a wide range of abuses - and got nowhere. They were indifferent -  - 'Can't be bothered.'

The propaganda sheet also makes this claim:

'This university is covered in blood. It has received over £72 million from arms companies since 2012. Staff at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) have won awards for their work developing the F-35 fighter jet, used by the Israeli army in their genocidal murder of tens of thousands of Palestinians. [I discuss the issue of genocide at length in my page on Israel and the issue of the killing of civilians in war is discussed in the short summary of issues below.] We are demanding the university cuts ties with arms companies, joins in with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) of Israel, and shows accountability by meeting staff and students at our camp.'

The 'demands' of SCCP include  this: 'We hold the University of Sheffield accountable for their complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people.'

This is followed by this amazing (amazingly stupid) claim. It really does deserve some emphasis:

'We will remain camping indefinitely until our demands are met.'

Are they quite sure of that? This confident statement is doomed to disappointment.

'This university belongs to all of us, not our parasitic student management. If we come together in strength and solidarity there is no demand we cannot win.'

When complying with demands entails very severe consequences, when the demands are demands for impossible objectives, when the people who are making the demands have far less power, then it's the people making the demands who lose.

To issue the demand, 'Stop the assault on Gaza' will have no more effect on events in the real world than any other plea in time of war which is powerless to make the demand effective.

'We demand an immediate ceasefire ... ' What? An immediate ceasefire? NOW? This minute? Surely, out of the question. Or do these people regard themselves as miracle workers? 'NOW' is often used instead of 'now' because it's wrongly supposed that the use of capital letters gives even greater urgency and makes achievement more likely.

After my second visit to the encampment, I began to rethink a policy which I've made clear to students there on both my visits. I said that one of my reasons for visiting was to take photographs for documentary purposes. The law allows the taking of photographs in these circumstances. The law allows the taking of photographs of children, of police officers and of the faces of students but I have self-imposed limitations. I don't take photographs in any of those cases. I didn't take photographs of any of the students taking part.

Now, I see the need to modify the rules I've set for myself. From now on, I'll take photographs of students taking part and I'll take film footage too. This applies to any future visits I make to the encampment and once the encampment is no more, as will probably happen fairly soon, I'll take photographs and take film footage of students taking part in any future pro-Palestinian events which may take place at the university, when I'm able to attend. If Dr Stampnitzky ever visits the encampment when I'm there, I'll waste no time at all in taking a photograph for use on this page.

I'll be sending an email to Dr Stampnitzky to draw her attention to this change of policy on my part. There's presumably a chain of command in their operation, some means of bringing information to the attention of the students and academic staff taking part. (But what academic staff? I know of only Dr Stampnitzky. If there are any other academics involved in helping out, inspiring the students, helping with the practical work, I'd be glad to have some names. I would hope that these academics would have the courage of their convictions and not need to keep their support secret - but I think a degree of secrecy is far more likely than a confident statement that they fully support the objectives and methods of the encampment.

Dr Stampnitzky, 'staff representative on SCCP and Politics Lecturer:'

'I am proud to see our students taking a stand and joining this worldwide movement against the ongoing genocide in Gaza. Our university needs to confirm its commitment to be an ethical institution and divest itself of ties to the development of weapons used to perpetrate atrocities.'

In fact, she has encouraged students to enter a complex and hazardous field, without, it seems, any awareness of the risks, which are potentially considerable. (There are other disadvantages, such as the simple wasting of time, expending time and effort on initiative which are surely doomed to failure.)

Universities have no statutory duty of care for their students. In recent years, the discussion has been centred on a very, very important aspect, the mental health of students, but there are obviously wider implications. Academics who provide care for their students which meets the basic legal requirements but no more should be ashamed, I believe.

In the case of the encampment, do the words and actions of Dr Stampnitzky satisfy basic levels of care? Do they fail other tests? My own view is that she has acted recklessly, with insufficient thought given to the consequences of her words and actions. This academic, and the students taking part in the encampment, should realize that there are possible consequences, including unintended consequences.

It's clear that Dr Stampnitzky, like the unknown author or authors of what I call 'the propaganda sheet,' have a view of armaments as evil, or harmful to an extreme degree - of course, they choose to neglect Palestinian and Iranian use of armaments, such as the rockets and drones which have rained down on Israel at intervals.

My extensive page Academics against Armaments  discusses the subject. Since the page was published, there have been developments which make clear what should have been completely clear before that: armaments are ambiguous, they can be used to destroy liberties and to restore liberties, for outright repression and for liberation from oppression. Examples include the aggressive use of armaments by the Nazis and the liberation of countries from Nazi rule, which would have been impossible without the use of armaments. And, also, of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and resistance to Russian invasion, again, impossible without the use of armaments.

The aircraft whose construction is furthered by the work of AMRC are for constructive ends. Without access to armaments, Israel obviously cannot defend itself and cannot defeat potential invaders of this whole area, including terrorist invaders.

Not only is Dr Stampnitzky unable to see the force of these arguments, the same applies to some other academics in the Department of Politics and International Relations. One example, Dr Joanna Tidy, who signed the grotesque document mentioned in my page 'Academics against Armaments.'

Sheffield University  Department of Politics and International Relations, including reasons to avoid

This is a very recent section. It will be revised and extended.

A selection of 'reasons to avoid' is given in the section above. This section will contain additional material, and there will need to be a great deal of material to do even partial justice to the competing claims of such a large number of people. I would risk this generalization. In the specific case of the encampment, deeply disturbing, as I see it, for a variety of reasons, the staff making up the department seem to have been unable or unwilling to offer any specific advice or  information on the matter. They seem to have been completely willing to take a laissez-fair attitude, amounting, to all intents and purposes, to indifference. If there has been active concern, it has been well concealed.

All sorts of reasons can be given for the importance of academic study in this field but if the study has seemingly no importance at the practical level, if no insights are offered, no helpful suggestions are made, let alone wide-ranging attempts to solve a problem, then outsiders are entitled to draw certain conclusions. In this case, the theories supported by empirical evidence (or unsupported by empirical evidence) have been lacking. This is a department which seems to have failed, and failed comprehensively. There are people in this department who fail to see the basics, who imagine that abolishing armaments is a feasible and realistic objective, who imagine that without armaments, Ukraine can maintain its freedom. This is a grotesque department - not wholly, but in part - a very worrying part. There are many, many ordinary Sheffield people, with no academic achievements, who can easily detect the stupidity of these views.

I'll need to spend much more time on an examination of individual academics in the department to find out more, to distinguish between people who are playing academic games - frivolous academic games - and people of substance. Provisionally, I maintain that it would be a mistake for intending undergraduate or postgraduate students to apply to join the department and that this department isn't one of the deserving recipients of grants. I don't give any further information about possible grants here

In the meantime, the department, and the university, will no doubt carry on making claims which may or may not be supported by the evidence. My provisional view is that much of the evidence is manufactured and isn't in the least compelling. My view is that it's easy to make grandiose claims and far harder to substantiate the claims. It's easy to make claims about 'world class' research but the actual achievement is a very different matter - this may well be parochial, minor or non-existent.

A massive disadvantage of academic specialization. Academics decide not to comment because the issue is outside their academic speciality. Or academics comment - and do much more than comment - on an issue outside their academic speciality without devoting nearly enough work on aspects which are relevant, important, vital. Experts, or supposed experts, in one restricted field who are content to be dilettantes in matters outside their field. An example, academics who comment on Israeli-Palestinian relations without serious study of military history, aspects which are of crucial importance: including the unavoidable killing of civilians. Academics who use the term 'genocide' in a completely unscrupulous way, without any regard to the complex history of the word and the complex uses of the word. Not all academics are complex, sensitive people (people who are sensitive to other people or people who are sensitive to language. Academics can be pathetic, very flawed individuals - despite the attempts of their departments and their universities to promote a distorted view.

So many claims made by departments and universities are fully justified, on the other hand. The achievements may well be exemplary - but it is rarely the case that massive achievements in some respects are unaccompanied by comparative failings and others. There's absolutely no reason why the outstanding achievement of a department of Chemistry should always be accompanied by serious failings in a department of, let's say, Politics or English Literature.

I take the view that already, even without further argument and evidence, there's a case to answer.

This is a list of current academics in the department: professors, lecturers and some others. My initial reaction is frankly this, I have to say. This seems to be a bloated department. The more staff, the greater the achievement, the more impressive the department? It's possible for big departments to be very restricted in actual achievement. I intend to publish profiles of a selection of the people listed here.

Some of the names in this list include this, in paretheses: [SIGNER]  This is a reference to the signing of a document discussed at length in my page Academics Against Armaments.  The individual concerned signed the document. This is an extract from the page:

The academics who signed the document against the 'Defence and Security Equipment' event, described as the 'Arms Fair,' have shown shocking ignorance.  Liberal democracies which make no provision for defence and security will be defeated by totalitarian or semi-totalitarian regimes which will pay absolutely no attention to the naive and superficial views of the signatories. The Defence and Security Equipment event was making available advanced weapons which reduce the chance of killing or injuring unintended targets.

Precision strikes conducted by Ukrainian forces using high-tech weapons supplied by democracies are undermining Russia's ability to fight and Moscow is turning to outdated arms as its stocks of more modern armaments become exhausted. The inspiring resistance of Ukraine to unprovoked aggression - only effective because it makes use of advanced armaments, not the ridiculous rhetoric of the signers, is one of a very large number of other counter-examples which comprehensively demolish the false claims of the signers. I provide other examples on this page.

Any pretence that the signers had the advantage of expert knowledge is undermined by the evidence of the profiles here - I intend to add more - as well as other evidence. The signers acted as ideologists, not fair-minded academics. They have surely damaged their own reputations and potentially the reputations of the University departments where they work -  the ones who do work in University departments. The document supplied with the list of signatories made claims that were obviously false as regards their backgrounds.

Professor Charlotte Burns, Head of Department

Dr Sarah Ababneh
Dr Amya Agarwal
Dr George Asiamah
Professor Ian Bache
Professor Andrew Baker
Dr Ross Bellaby
Ms Jessica Benson-Egglenton
Dr Matthew L. Bishop
Professor Ruth Blakeley
Rt Hon. Professor the Lord Daid Blunkett
Dr Jayne Carrick
Dr Barish Celik
Professor Alasdair Cochrane
Dr Luis De La Calle
Dr Juan M. Diaz Arevalo
Professor Kate Dommett
Professor Rosaleen Duffy
Dr David Duriesmith
Dr Lewis Eves
Dr Joanna Flavell
Professor Matthew Flinders
Professor Andrew Gamble
Dr Jonthan K. Gamu
Mrs Katy Gordon
Dr Jennifer Greenburg
Dr Edward Hall
Professor Andrew Hindmoor
Professor John M. Hobson
Dr Amandine Hostein
Professor Michael Jacobs
Dr Thomas R. Johnson
Miss Lowenna Jones
Dr Amna Kaleem
Dr Zeynep Kaya
Ms Kelli Kennedy
Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford
Dr Natalie Langford
Dr Malte Michael Laub
Dr Stephanie Luke
Dr Xavier Hathieu
Professor Felicity Matthews
Dr Annapurna Menon
Dr Patricia Nabuco Martuscelli
Dr Jonna Nyman  [SIGNER]
Dr Owen Parker
Professior Charles Pattie
Dr Daniel Pitt
Dr Megan Price
Dr Athanassios Roussias
Professor Simon Rushton
Dr Matt Sleat
Dr Lisa Stampnitzky
Dr Liam Stanley  [SIGNER]
Dr Gregory Stiles
Dr Nicky Stubbs
Dr Joanna Tidy [SIGNER]
Dr Patrick Tom
Dr Helen Louise Turton
Dr Luke Ulas
Dr Joseph Ward
Dr James Weinberg
Dr Richard Williams
Dr Matthew Wood
Dr Kieran Wright
Dr Erman OrsanYetis
Dr Junyan Zhu

The Concourse Camp: the case against, including fire danger

From the site of 'HLM Architects,' 'Case Study, the Concourse.'

https://hlmarchitects.com/projects/the-concourse/

The objectives set out in the brief have been addressed through the design development of the scheme:

  • A design that is uncluttered and provides a flexible space, for a variety of users and functions that occur through the University’s academic year

  • Create an important civic space within the campus where people want to stay and socialise, that will provide an animated space during the day and at night

  • Create spaces that respond to user’s requirements – social, learning and quiet activities

  • Compliant and have a relationship with the Masterplan public realm

  • A design that respond [sic]  to the buildings and functions around the Concourse

  • A lighting scheme that promotes use of the space, through the feeling of safety and security, whilst providing a dynamic night time streetscape

  • A scheme that focused on sustainability of materials

The Concourse is uncluttered no longer. The degree of clutter varies. When left over food and many other things are left on tables, when objects are piled up on the floor, the clutter is very noticeable.

A large part of the area is now unavailable for social use - except for the socializing of the Campus campers and people who come to the site to see them - twice this week, I've seen in the area the member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, certainly not a student, a person who took part in the chaotic attempt to take away my camera, someone who on three occasions has prevented me from walking freely. He prevented me from walking freely in the Concourse but of course, students, staff and members of the public like myself are prevented from making fuller use of the Concourse because the tents and the clutter make that impossible.

 The area is no longer an 'important civic space' for a wide range of activities. A large part of the area is now unavailable for other activities, such as quiet activities.

Security on the site is severely compromised. Instead of clear sight-lines, a space which can easily be viewed to prevent and detect security risks, we have a space which is  now obstructive in large part, making impossible the clear views which were once provided, providing now multiple opportunities for concealment, at night as well as in the day. Anyone who wants to occupy an empty tent at night would be able to do just that without any difficulty. People walking through the area at night are potentially at risk.

CCTV is essential to maximize the safety and security of users of the area but now, a large area can't be viewed adequately and a substantial area can't be viewed at all.

An additional hazard: there will be food waste in the area now. Not all of it will be cleared promptly. Some may be left for quite a time. This food waste may well attract urban rats.

Fire precautions in the camping area seem to be not so much inadequate as non-existent. Fire safety should be just as good as at a commercial camp site. An example of fire precautions at a commercial site:

' ... clear space between pitches [each tent is within a pitch] should be at least three metres and no pitch ... should be more than 90 metres from a fire point. At each fire point there should be two 10-litre water extinguishers (complying with British Standard 5423) and there should be a method of raising the alarm. There should also be a notice explaining the steps to take in the event of a fire: raise the alarm, evacuate the area, call the fire brigade, suppress the fire using the provided equipment.'

My view is that Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine,' and Sheffield University, have been risking disaster. A student trapped inside a tent inferno in the middle of the night, the flames spreading swiftly to neighbouring tents - which are spaced very, very closely in the concourse, in ignorance of the risks,  the whole campsite quickly burning - how would they recover from this catastrophe?

Aesthetically, the area has suffered. I've seen crude graffiti, not the work of vandals but of  believers in the cause. 'Palestine Camp,' Bulletin - Issue 1, published by the Campus Campers, includes this, 'We want to ... cover every surface we can with chalk and banners demanding liberation.' This objective is explicitly stated, forming a strategy 'for how to build power and target the university.'

Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign and similar organizations take the view that when they protest, rights and freedoms guaranteed by law are no longer to be observed if they think they are in  conflict with their 'demands.' I have found this to be the case in various places, at various times. My freedom of action has been restricted. Campaigners have prevented me from walking in one direction or in any direction but the way back, in an attempt to prevent me from exercising  a similar freedom, the freedom to take photographs or film footage of protesters.

Until recently, the interference was only temporary. At the Sheffield encampment, the interference has been far more lasting. The encampment has lasted far longer than any of the previous protests. 

In the encampment site, the same tactics were used by two different people, one a student, the other not a student: standing very close to me, in my path, preventing me from walking forwards. If I've moved to the side, these people have moved to the side, so that I continued to be blocked. This area is a public highway and wilfully stopping free movement is, to me, a case of obstruction, which has legal penalties if the person is found guilty of the offence.

The Concourse is a public highway. In law, obstruction does not have to take the form of obstruction to the whole width of the highway. The wilful prevention of movement in one part of the highway constitutes obstruction as well.

There is absolutely no reason why Sheffield University should provide facilities for a very vocal, very demanding minority with an insatiable appetite for making demands, people who take one particular view of a single set of issues. The issues are very important ones but there are very different views of the issues - I think that these are far more likely to be accompanied by argument and evidence. There is surely no reason why Sheffield University should disadvantage other users of the Concourse.

The Campus Campers have many, many other ways of promoting their views and publicizing their views. Sheffield University is under no obligation whatsoever to give them these facilities for promoting their cause. To grant  these people these facilities and privileges is surely very misguided, in fact, deeply unfair.

My view is that the Camp has been damaging and the longer it continues, the more damage it will cause. The best outcome by far would be for the Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine to take the decision to close the camp and to dismantle it. If not, my view is that Sheffield University should take action to close the camp,  which would probably need preliminary legal action.

If both Sheffield Campus Coalition and Sheffield University decide not to take this step, my view is that circumstances and future developments will eventually lead to the closure of the camp for certain, in the longer term, but that Sheffield Campus Coalition and Sheffield University will be left with impaired reputations. My view is that Sheffield Campus Coalition has no reputation worthy of the name but that Sheffield University is in a very different category, flawed, deeply flawed in some respects, but with immense strengths which very much outweigh the weaknesses.

I offer in this page and in other places argument and evidence. Since universities are commonly supposed to be places where argument and evidence and reasoned debate flourish (a very mistaken view so often) then I think it wouldn't come amiss if the university could offer argument and evidence in these matters instead of remaining largely silent. The slogan shouters and intelligentsia who offer support to Gaza (largely uncritical support) could make the attempt to offer argument and evidence too. I'm a single individual and both the university and Sheffield Campus Coalition have strength of numbers as an advantage, but I think that strength of numbers can be accompanied by weakness in other respects.

My involvement in fire safety work

Amongst the wide-ranging fields in which I work or to which I contribute is the field of fire safety. I'd claim that the reason why I detected fire risks at the student encampment site which had not been noticed by others is because of my involvement in fire safety. I have a patent pending in the United States which has wide-ranging environmental benefits but also very significant benefits in fire safety. This is a radically new system which amongst many other possibilities  allows window glazing to be moved away from the window area in a few seconds in the event of fire, giving a completely open window space. This will allow fire and rescue services to evacuate people inside the burning building far more easily. It will allow people inside the burning building to escape from the building far more easily. The page
www.linkagenet.com/phd/new-window-door-system.htm   gives further information about the invention.

Very recently, I received legal documents from the firm of United States patent agents and attorneys which I use. The documentation was for me to check, to make any necessary changes, and then approve. The firm will then send the documents to the United States Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO) for filing. Once filed, the invention would then be granted patent pending status, bringing the total number of my patents pending in the United States to three.

This invention too has very wide-ranging environmental benefits but also substantial benefits in fire safety. It allows water falling on the roof - a roof of new design - to be collected and stored and in the event of fire released through a sprinkler system or through larger apertures. I think in international terms. The invention has substantial advantages when implemented in war zones. It makes it possible for incendiary devices and burning debris falling on the roof to be extinguished, although not in the case of large-scale intrusions.  
www.linkagenet.com/phd/new-roofing-walling-system.htm  gives further information about this invention. The existing account on the page of my site will be supplemented with a more detailed, more technical account once the invention has been filed at the USPTO.

Israeli-Palestinian relations: the case for Israel

For a fuller discussion of the issues, including the rules of war, treatment of non-combatants and genocide, please see my page on Israel.

Human values, humane values can sometimes only be safeguarded by harsh action, including harsh military action. This was the case during the Second World War, a conflict which was obviously more wide ranging by far. But the savagery displayed in the recent terrorist attack on Israel was as bad as any of the atrocities which took place during the Second World War. Allied forces defeated genocidal Nazi Germany not by displays of naive, utopian, superficial thinking but by tactical and strategic thinking which resulted in hard military action, including the use of bombardment.

 After D-day, villages, towns and cities in France, Belgium and the Netherlands were liberated by British and other allied forces. Very often, they were liberated by military action which included bombing and artillery fire and very often with civilian casualties. For example, Caen in Normandy was liberated only after being heavily bombed. About 80% of the town was devastated and 3000 civilians were killed.

Above, A Handley Page Halifax bomber  flying over Caen, one of 467 aircraft taking part in a  ddaylight raid to assist the Normandy land battle. The aircraft were originally intended to bomb German strongpoints north of Caen, but there were Allied troops near to the targets, so the bombing area was moved nearer to the city, causing massive damage to the northern suburbs.

Around 60,000 French civilians had been killed by allied bombing by the time France was liberated. To use only ground forces was out of the question. Nazi occupied Europe could never have been liberated in this way. Anyone who claims that allied forces were 'no better than Nazis' for frequent killing of civilians is failing to take into account Nazi killings of civilians, which belonged to a different order of reality - reprisal executions, the mass executions of the Einsatzgruppen and, of course, the Holocaust, the worst set of war crimes in human history.

In extreme circumstances, to overcome fanatical opposition, the armed forces of democratic states often have no alternative but to use extreme force – but not ‘extremist force,’ the methods used by fanatics. To use slight force would be to guarantee defeat. Although technological advances have vastly increased the precision of bombing, these cannot overcome all difficulties, for example those arising in very densely populated neighbourhoods such as Gaza.

A stark fact: the families of all the terrorists killed or injured in these horrific attacks in Israel will receive large cash payments from the Palestinian Authority, which calls them ‘Martyr payments.’ The families of Palestinian terrorists killed or injured whilst committing previous acts of terrorism already receive these payments, a reward for spreading death and destruction. ‘Martyr payments’ are also made to the families of terrorists imprisoned by Israel for politically motivated violence, often lethal violence.

Basem Naim, Head of Political and International Relations for Hamas, claimed in an interview not long after the attacks on Israeli civilians that none of the people taken hostage at the time by the terrorists (obviously, he never used the word ‘terrorists’) are civilians! According to this tainted source of information, the child hostages are not civilians and neither are the children killed! This is a claim that deserves to be treated with contempt and revulsion.

He also claimed that it was an absolute necessity to attack Israel. The alternative, he said, would be ‘to die silently by malnutrition.’ Later in the interview, he claimed a Palestinian malnutrition rate of 55% He intended to present a deeply distressing picture of starving Palestinians, deprived of food by the Israelis, but he surely knew that the Palestinian malnutrition problem is obesity, not starvation. There have been a number of studies. A study of 2019 found that among adults 18 years and older, 64% of males and 69.5% of females in the Palestinian territories were overweight. Hamas has a record of using distortion, exaggeration, selectivity, general falsification, often taking grotesque forms - tactics which appeal to credulous people.

Badly needed: a deeper and wider understanding of the Palestinian society which gives such widespread support to Hamas. A clear sighted, fair-minded and comprehensive view of Palestinian society should amongst other things take into account information such as  findings of the Pew Research Center. A few examples: stoning to death for adultery may not be practised in the Palestinian territories but 84% of Palestinians support the punishment. The conviction that a woman must always obey her husband is widely held, with 87% support in the Palestinian territories.

Homosexuality is illegal in Gaza, although not in the West Bank. Homosexuality isn’t illegal in Israel, of course. The Gay scene in Israel is a very flourishing one. The Tel Aviv Gay Pride event is one of the largest in the world. As for Iran, the supporter of Hamas, this is a country in the grip of a horrific regime. Homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery and political dissidence are amongst the many offences which can be punished with the death penalty.

A society which is liberal, tolerant and open has to have a whole range of other strengths. Essential: alertness to forces that can damage it very severely, perhaps irreparably. A society has to be willing and able to defend itself or risk being damaged or destroyed by ruthless outside forces - with the exception of states which rely upon other states for their defence, generally mistakenly, but not in the case of very small states such as San Marino.

If, hypothetically, Palestinians were granted a state, is it likely that their relations with their neighbour Israel would be harmonious? If, hypothetically, Israel were ever to be wiped out, the new state would be very vulnerable. Its survival could never be guaranteed. It could easily be invaded by a powerful and ruthless adversary that would like to take its territory. As it is, superior Israeli military power guarantees the security of the Palestinian territories, just as the neutral Republic of Ireland was protected against German invasion by the military power of Britain and its allies during the Second World War. The protection against potential aggressors provided by Israel's superior power is a massive advantage for the Palestinians.

The practical problems  confronting Hamas were avoidable but Hamas chose not to avoid them. In fact, the problems can only be solved if Hamas is eliminated. Democratic states and organizations should do nothing which helps to save Hamas, directly or indirectly. There are many, many countries in the world facing acute problems to do with basic needs. It’s impossible to give effective help to all of them. The basic economic problem is the problem of scarcity: unlimited wants and finite resources.

Why should Gaza be regarded as not just a deserving cause but a deserving cause which should have absolute priority? Israel and Ukraine deserve the support of the free world, not so Hamas-controlled Gaza. The international community's contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza should only be offered under the most stringent conditions..

Hamas is a basket case and has ruined Gaza, with the support of far too many Palestinians. But in general, they don't deserve a regime as bad as Hamas. The 'they' is a generalization, of course, There are deserving and undeserving Palestinians. 

If, with the aid of the horrific Iranian regime (which sentenced 51 people to be stoned to death for adultery in 2022), Palestinians in Gaza had been able to amass a formidable force of multirole combat aircraft, then there can't be the least doubt that they would have done everything in their power to use them for the destruction of Israeli hospitals, homes and schools, as well as Israeli Defence Force positions, without the least concern for 'International Law.'. They have been able, with the aid of the horrific Iranian regime, to equip themselves with rockets and they have used them to attack Israeli civilians on many occasions in previous years and now on a much bigger scale.

The damage from Israeli counter-attacks against Gaza after these previous rocket attacks should have taught Hamas this simple lesson. If you don't want war damage in Gaza and want to protect civilians in Gaza, stop firing rockets and stop breaking ceasefires. But Hamas are very slow learners.

If it wanted to, Iran, a big country, could aid the Palestinians not just by providing them with supplies but by offering them some Iranian territory for a new Palestinian homeland. Would the Palestinians be glad to go there, to live in a place free of Israeli influence? I doubt it. If the barbarity of Hamas (and the Iranian regime) is obvious to anyone with any sense, the stupidity of Hamas (and the Iranian regime) should be obvious to anyone with any sense too.

What do the student protesters at the camp want? What are their demands?

Extracts from 'Palestine Camp,' Bulletin - Issue 1: 06/05/24. I obtained a copy from the Protesters. My comments are in square brackets [ ... ]

'We will remain camping indefinitely until our demands are met.' [Their demands will never be met. They'll abandon their camp, unless they choose to stay there  after graduation, for decades.] 

'If we come together in strength and solidarity there is no demand we cannot win.' [As a matter of strict fact, not true.]

[And what are those demands which must be met and which they are confident they can win?]

'We are demanding the university cuts ties with arms companies.' [that is, the arms companies which also supply Ukraine with the materials needed to defend
its freedom, the materials needed for this country to defends its status as a free democracy. This demand, like the others,  pays not the slightest attention to realities.]

'As students and staff at this institution, it is our moral imperative to fight for the severing of all ties to arms companies.'

[Transpose the protest to a hypothetical camp just before the start of the Second World War and during the Second World War. Depriving the armed forces of arms would have quickly led to Nazi occupation of this country. The protesters' claim to this moral imperative is defective in so many ways.]

' ... genocide of Palestinians' has significantly intensified since last October'
{a date which is very significant, of course, for a reason not made clear by the
Bulletin, as it marked the incursion of Hamas into Israel and the intensification of Israeli action to defend Israel against further atrocities. The claim amounts to a horrific evasion.] 
'We want to ... cover every surface we can with chalk and banners demanding liberation.'

[This and other claims and demands are a form of monomania, disregarding a very wide range of responsibilities in the single-minded, distorting focus on one single cause, amounting, in my view, to fanaticism.] 

https://www.sheffieldpsc.org.uk/?p=4183

'Students at the University of Sheffield have today (1 May 2024) begun a mass encampment in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in protest against allegations of their university’s complicity in Israeli apartheid and the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. The day started with planned walk-outs of lectures and teaching activities, followed by a demonstration. As the demonstration neared its end, students could be seen setting up tents and gazebos outside university buildings.'

'The protests are led by the Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine (SCCP), a coalition of staff, students, and alumni from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.'

'A student spokesperson for SCCP said: ‘The university can house decolonial lecturers in their theatres whilst simultaneously profiting off settler-colonial projects. But now the fig leaf has fallen, revealing the University of Sheffield not as an academic institution, but rather as a brazen hub for weapons manufacturers.'

'The claim that the University of Sheffield isn't an academic institution amounts to gross stupidity, reductionist stupidity, assessing an institution purely on the basis of one factor and one factor only - its level of adherence to their own ideology. There's absolutely no recognition of the university as a centre of research in physical and biological science, engineering, the teaching of the skills and knowledge necessary for practising dentistry, medicine, law.'  

The university - or a restricted group within the university with the power to enforce their will - have decided to let the students have their own way and to carry on camping despite the accumulation of evidence that the camp is harmful - but the concessions (concessions amount to implicit support) are never enough. The camp students, even more so the people taking part in Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign protests - the two overlap to an extent - are insatiable. They demand that their demands be met, and if not, there'll be trouble.] 


'The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is a massive university owned and run complex in the east of Sheffield. Here, doctoral researchers and engineering students work on projects which enhance the manufacturing capacities of BAE systems - a company for which arms account for 97% of total sales. There are also research partnerships with the other arms companies listed. The AMRC is the death star on our doorstep.'

[My page on arms manufacture and the stupidity of many academics who oppose all aspects of the arms trade is at
www.linkagenet.com/themes/academics-against-armaments.htm

My praise for AMRC is
here, on this page. An extract

'Sheffield University's AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) is a major presence at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, with a record of sustained and enormously impressive achievement.

Its work on the F-35 fighter plane, shamelessly criticized by so many pro-Palestinian campaigners, represents work at a very high level of intellectual achievement, carried out using a very wide range of complex techniques. Its benefits are wide ranging and include advantages for the apprentices who learn and work there and crucial advantages for democracies of the free world, which need, amongst other things, advanced aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II jet. Neglect of high technology would lead swiftly to defeat at the hands of Putin's Russia, but there are many other adversaries to be deterred. To take no account of these realities is to do without effective protection. The claim made by protestors and opponents of AMRC to a higher ethical status is completely without merit.']

UCU (University and College Union)

https://www.leedsucu.org.uk/three-union-letter-regarding-safety-of-students-in-encampment/

Three union letter regarding safety of students in  encampment

Dear Vice-Chancellor and University Secretary

We are writing with urgency with regards to the safety of the students in the University of Leeds encampment.

 As you may be aware ... over the past nights the students have faced escalating threats of violence and disturbance late at night. This culminated last night in one of the group harassing the students threatening them with weapons, including a knife.

...

 We cannot over-emphasise the urgency or danger of this situation. We ask you to immediately:

 – Ensure that the students have sufficient support from security and that security are focused on ensuring the safety of the students

– Advise what measures have been put in place – what advice given – to ensure the safety and wellbeing of colleagues in Security at this stressful time. Including providing a ‘place / person’ they can talk to in confidence, if the nature of this work is causing more than the usual stresses for individuals

– Meet the students’ demands as soon as possible in order to avoid further escalation [the demands are grossly unrealistic, as I explain in detail on this page.]

...

 Please advise us as to the steps you have taken to ensure the safety of our students and ensure our duty of care to them is fulfilled. [My view is that universities should do far more for the care and welfare of students but the document is mistaken - universities have no legal duty of care.]

 We look forward to hearing from you,

UCU, UNISON and Unite

I've contacted Leeds University UCU to bring to their attention the dangers of the Sheffield University student encampment, in particular, the danger of fire. 

All branches of UCU need to be aware of the issues. If they take seriously the safety and welfare of university staff and students then this is an issue they can't possibly ignore.

I've documented the dangers in various ways, including photographic evidence. Protesters have actively tried to stop me taking photographs at the encampment and in other places. One tactic used has been obstruction - standing so close to me that I can't walk forwards or to the side. The only direction I can move in is to walk backwards. I've been attacked and my camera has been damaged. I've pointed out to protesters that the law allows me to take photographs. Use of phones to take pictures is absolutely commonplace, of course. The protesters are protesting in a public space. They have no power to stop the taking of photographs and filming in this space, including the Concourse where this student encampment can be found - for the time being. The law also allows me to move freely in this public space.

Does UCU support the rule of law or not in these circumstances? Leeds UCU has suggested a solution to the problems at the Leeds encampment - accepting the demands of the protesters. The demands include disengagement from university contributions to the manufacture and supply of armaments. This would entail no longer supporting the struggle of Ukraine to preserve its freedom and independence, a struggle which is impossible without the use of armaments. To refuse to take any part in manufacture and supply of armaments is a refusal which will never take place, because it amounts to an evasion of realities, a refusal to recognize realities.

It would also involve refusal to recognize contracts already in place, refusal to recognize the laws regulating contracts -  instead, obedience to people who would much rather chant slogans than offer argument and evidence. Sitting around talking to each other in an encampment is much easier, much more congenial than making an honest attempt to answer objections.

If universities took the advice to accept all the demands of the protestors - but it will never happen - then this would be a catastrophic failure to recognize the importance of argument and evidence, but I'd put it much more strongly - it would be a surrender to attempted mob rule, and attempted mob rule takes many, many forms, including  far-right, neo-Nazi attempted mob rule.

As a matter of strict fact - horrendous fact - neo-Nazis would find common cause with Hamas supporters, supporters of the barbaric Iranian regime, so many of the protesters at these camps. Not all the protesters at these camps would want to see Israel annihilated, Israelis exterminated, but I think it's very likely that a substantial number wouldn't mind in the least.

UCU members - if you value the reputation of the University College Union as a responsible organization, one that can be taken seriously - do something to oppose the stupid and reckless pronouncements often issued in your name.

Umberto Albarella, Professor of Zooarchaeology, Sheffield University

Above, Professor Albarella of Sheffield Green Party making the clenched fist salute whilst taking the knee - not in this case in homage to 'Black Lives Matter,' probably. Homage to anarchist comrades? Homage to Sheffield Green Party? Solidarity with Sheffield Green Party comrades?  For naive and confused reasons not fully formed, reasons he can't be bothered with, since the show is what counts for him, not any form of reasoning? I'm sure he takes much more care in his academic work, which seems to be of high quality. It includes the study of animal bones.

For further comment on this rather peculiar personage, just read on. But don't let reading about him take up much of your time. I don't think he would be worth it. In my experience, there's no shortage of peculiar people who are members of the Green Party. Some of them are 'funny peculiar,' comical rather than disturbing,  but there's no shortage of fanatics. I'd say that councillor Alexi Dimond, mentioned in the column to the right is a prime example. His fanaticism is tempered with cluelessness but I regard him as a very  harmful influence in Sheffield politics. My page on Israel includes, in the third column of the page,  material on genocide and civilian casualties in war. It should make clear the abysmal ignorance of the man.

A selection of Professor Albarella's writing, none of it in extended form - just slogan after slogan after slogan - none of it providing argument and evidence, none of his grotesque generalizations allowing exceptions, appears on his page

https://www.sotwe.com/UAlbarella?lang=tr

After 'We will ALWAYS support freedom of movement [freedom of movement includes freedom for ISIS supporters and terrorists to enter this country, does it?]  there's a picture of a white poppy and the familiar slogan 'STOP THE GENOCIDE), a list: 'archaeologist, green-anarchist, pacifist ... ' and then this: 'national borders are a crime against humanity.' In his deluded state he might believe it's actually possible for the countries of the world to abolish their borders and allow freedom of movement but in practice, as a matter of strict fact, these things are no more possible than allowing anyone who wants to become a student at Sheffield University to become a student at Sheffield University. Such considerations as gross overcrowding in lecture theatres and gross overcrowding in student accommodation are relevant.


I would hope that the Department of Archaelogy  encourages - requires - undergraduate and graduate students to have a respect for evidence, the responsible use of evidence, the avoidance of wild generalization, the use of responsible language, to be ready to have views challenged - but only, it seems, in the field of archaeology. Are these virtues to be disregarded when it comes to the wider world, the supremely important world which includes ethical choice, ethical dilemmas, the avoidance of war, the conduct of war?

 I can't, of course. demand that he enters into debate, I can't demand that he should defend his views on Israel, on war, those wider issues.

On the Sheffield Green Party page

https://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/sgp-officer-elections-job-descriptions-candidate-statements/umberto-albarella/

there's a picture of Professor Albarella making the clenched fist salute. The image at the top of this column is a smaller version, modified so as not to infringe copyright. The red block conceals his face. Some of the people shown on the Home Page of the site are blocked out - Professor Albarella is one of them.  A dictionary definition of 'blockhead' is 'stupid person.' He's stupid but much more than that - harmful, I'd contend.

The clenched fist salute represents some political ideologies, including communism and anarchism, and supposedly expresses strength and resistance.

Making a tough guy gesture is one thing, showing that he's tough is quite another. I think it's likely, overwhelmingly likely, that he'll prefer not to make a fuss over the criticisms here, that he'll complacently choose the path of least resistance, that his ideology isn't robust but fragile and weak. In the picture, he's posing. My view is that when he meets real  resistance to his idiotic views, he gives up, or simply shouts more slogans.

An academic in the field of archaeology who flagrantly disregards evidence or distorts evidence which concerns the wider matters montioned  (my view of things in the case of Professor Albarella) is someone who doesn't enhance the reputation of archaeology as a subject which prospective undergraduates can choose or a subject which deserves to be part of the curriculum of Sheffield University. 

Sheffield University intends to remove archaeology from the curriculum. He uses the slogan 'cultural vandalism.' There are arguments against archaeology as part of this university's curriculum. Any arguments for archaeology aren't helped in the least by the hideous ignorance of this man.

I take into account the fact that the academics in the Department of Archaeology will have very varied views, including views very unlike the  ones held by Professor Albarella.

Dr A. Takriti, historian, censor, slogan-shouter

Film of Shimon Peres speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford University. At 4:00 Abdel Razzaq Takriti begins to shout slogans and is removed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbT2Z4dh-KA

This noisy and chaotic episode, described below, dates from his time at Wadham College, Oxford, when he was a doctoral student. 

Dr Abdel Takriti  is now a lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield. Although elimination of all bias in the teaching of history is obviously impossible, the avoidance of gross ideological bias and outright propaganda in the teaching of history isn't an impossible objective. If Wikipedia can make strenuous efforts to be fair-minded, no less should be expected of a department of history in a British university. He  teaches, or did teach, a module  'Palestine and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Whether his teaching of the topic is partisan, or propagandist I've no way of knowing. I'm receptive to any evidence.

  One principle he was certainly  attacking, a principle under relentless attack now, not least in so many universities, and a principle which it's essential to defend, is the enlightenment principle of freedom of speech, expressed memorably in the credo 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.' (often attributed to Voltaire, but in fact the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in her  book 'The Friends of Voltaire' of 1906. She summarized Voltaire's attitude towards Helvétius, not the words of Voltaire.)

A report on Dr Takriti, in action. I find it very disturbing. It was published by the pro-Palestinian site 'Electronic Intifada' (20 November, 2008.)

  'Text messages came from student protestors who had managed to get inside the lecture hall. They let the their  fellow demonstrators outside know that their chanting could be heard inside over the voice of Israeli President Shimon Peres. There was clapping and stamping of feet and placards banged on the railings to make as much noise as possible, along with the constant “Free, free Palestine” which did not stop for a moment of the hour-long lecture.

Silent women in black, shouting students, small babies in prams, university lecturers and a local elected official were just some of the crowd gathered to voice their protest against an Oxford college’s decision to honor Peres on Tuesday, 18 November as he gave the inaugural lecture in a series to be named after him. Some handed out leaflets and many were carrying signs, one of which read “Globalization of Apartheid,” a pun on the title of the lecture, “Globalization of Peace.”

'After the Master of Balliol College, Dr. Andrew Graham, refused to cancel the series  the Oxford University Student Palestine Society in conjunction with the city’s branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called for the people of Oxford to protest outside the hall as students interrupted the lecture inside.

'Halfway through the lecture, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, a Palestinian graduate student at Oxford’s Wadham College, Oxford was ejected from the hall. “Shimon Peres was making a particularly offensive remark claiming that ‘you [Palestinians] could have had a state if it wasn’t for your own mistakes’ and that Israelis fought for their state,” he told this writer, who was also participating in the protest. He then stated “We don’t need your permission to exist” and got support from other students for it. Takriti explained: “So I stood up and walked towards [Peres], saying, ‘how dare you say this at a time when you are besieging 1.5 million people in Gaza? 1.5 million people are starving to death! Shimon Peres, you’re a war criminal. You are responsible for the massacre of hundreds of people in Qana [southern Lebanon]. You’re responsible for an apartheid state. Shame on you.’ so I was dragged out.” '

Some comments, with background information. First of all, Shimon Peres was a 'dove' not a 'hawk,' or at least became a dove early in his career - but Israeli 'hawks,' like the 'doves,' deserve to be listened to without any attempts to shout the speaker down if they come to speak at a British university.

Some extracts from 'Israel: A History,' by Martin Gilbert on Shimon Peres. The estimate of other historians may be different, possibly very different, but Abdel Takriti's description is a travesty. Perhaps he would like to give a much fuller, carefully considered estimate of Shimon Peres, with evidence. If he still regards him as a war criminal, what does he think about the use of rockets by Hamas against Israeli civilians: a war crime or not?

Martin Gilbert writes,

'Turning to Shimon Peres, Leah Rabin urged him 'to lead the people of Israel to peace', and to do so 'in the spirit of Kitzhak [Rabin]' who had spoken in these terms:

'I want this government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, it will be possible to make peace.'

'Shimon Peres continued with the peace process. The Oslo Accords had been his creation: he now had the full authority as Prime Minister to pursue their timetable.'

' ... on February 25 [1996] a suicide bomber, entering a bus in Jerusalem, killed twenty-five people, most of them Israeli soldiers. A Muslim Arab, Wael Kawasmeh, who was waiting for a bus, was also killed. That same day a suicide bomber in Ashkelon blew himself up at a bus stop. One Israeli was killed, twenty-year old Hofit Ayash, who had recently chosen a wedding gown for her marriage in four months' time.

'Arafat's adviser, Ahmed Tibi, condemned the bus bombs. 'The circle of violence must be broken and stopped,' he said. 'There is no place for revenge attacks.' But on March 13, thirteen more Israelis were killed by a suicide bomber in the heart of Jerusalem on the same bus route, No. 18, as the previous bomb. One of those killed, nineteen-year-old Chaim Amedi, had unintentionally missed the bus that had been destroyed in the last attack. Another of those killed, thirty-eight-year-old George Yonan, was a Christian Arab who had been deaf from birth.

'On the following day a suicide bomber struck in Tel Aviv, in a crowded shopping street in the centre of the city, killing eighteen. These were enormous explosions that ripped the buses apart, mutilating many of the dead beyond recognition. The mood inside Israel was of near despair. It seemed impossible that the peace process could go on while such terrorist killings, on a far larger scale than before, went on.

'Immediately after the March 3 bus bomb, Peres had warned Arafat that the future of the peace process 'hangs in the balance' unless the Palestinian Authority took immediate action against Hamas. Israel could not be the only party to the agreements to keep its commitments. 'It cannot be unilateral.' ...

'The continuation of the Oslo Accords was under great strain. The Government of Israel, first under Rabin and then under Peres, repeatedly declared that it would not allow terror to derail the peace process, and negotiations with the Palestinians continued on the many issues relating to Palestinian autonomy and Israeli withdrawal ...

'Peres, the architect of Oslo, was himself under enormous public pressure to react  to the killings. But he declined to suspend the timetable of the Oslo Accords. Instead, in agreement with the Palestinians, he postponed the redeployment on Hebron, and called an election. In doing so, and thus inviting the Israeli public to express its opinion through the ballot box, he hoped to win and endorsement for continuing the peace negotiations. These included negotiations with Syria, to which Peres, like Rabin before him, was prepared to return most, and even all, of the Golan Heights in return for a full peace between the two countries.'
...

'The election was held on May 29 ... Labour emerged with the largest number of seats in the Knesset: 34 seats as against Likud's 32. But in the separate vote for Prime Minister the former leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, won, by the narrowest of margins ...
...

'Following his defeat in the 1996 election, Shimon Peres [described as a 'war criminal' by the demonstrators in Oxford who tried to stop him speaking, including the would-be censor Abdel Takriti] had refused to give up his vision. 'We shall continue to dream together,' he wrote, 'of a Middle East of light and hope.' In pursuit of that dream, he continued to advance the cause of economic cross-border activities, and to 'tutor' his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, in what could be achieved for the region through mutually acceptable agreements with all its neighbours.'

In a speech in the Knesset on October 7, Shimon Peres said,

'I want to say what real peace is in my experience. True peace is the way of agony. I remember what my comrades and I have gone through over the past year, seeing that man, the great military leader and the courageous statesman Yitzhak Rabin murdered before my eyes.' [He was assassinated by a Jew, not a Palestinian.]
...

'And afterwards I saw - I, a man who pursues peace - the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. I know what it is to leave one's office and be told that a bus has exploded. You also showed it on television. Thank you. I went there and I saw the blood and the flesh and the murder and the killing, and I saw the people screaming at me: 'You are guilty'.'

Some Sheffield University Signatories:
Dr J. Nyman, Dr L. Stanley, Dr J. Tidy et al.

On my page Academics against Armaments  I criticize academics who signed a naive letter. More academics from Sheffield University signed the letter than from any other university, apart from King's College, London. These were the Sheffield University Signers:

The signatories to the profoundly disturbing - more exactly, shallowly disturbing 'Academics Against the Arms Fair: An Open Letter,' published September 18, 2017, that is, well before the Russian aggression against Ukraine,  these Sheffield University academics. By signing this naive letter, these academics haven't enhanced the reputation of Sheffield University in the least, as a place where there's an  appreciation of realities to do with defence.

The academics:

Adam Ferhani
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/adam-ferhani

Jonna Nyman
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/jonna-nyman.

Owen Parker
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/owen-parker


Melanie Richter-Mont
petit (a member of Sheffield University at the time of signing, now at Sussex University.)
https://profiles.sussex.ac.uk/p349663-melanie-richter-montpetit

Jonathan Silver
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/urban-institute/who-we-are/jonathan-silver

Liam Stanley
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/liam-stanley

Joanna Tidy
https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/politics/people/academic-staff/joanna-tidy 

Professor Matthew Flinders, Sheffield University Department of Politics and International Relations

Professor Flinders is the author of 'Defending Politics: Why Democracy Matters in the 21st Century.' The book is on my bookshelves. I intend to discuss the book in this section.

I've a strong belief in the importance of supporting book publication, including, of course, the publications of academics. If I've reason to believe that a publication is very flawed for one reason or another, or if the book is out of print, then I'll buy a second hand copy. Otherwise, I'll buy it new. The author won't benefit financially to more than a negligible extent, but at least I've supported a branch of business which is far more than simply a branch of business but a necessity. From what I know of the book, its aims and the case it presents are ones I can endorse wholeheartedly. I'm sure there will be some reservations,  but I'll wait and see.

The only material here - for the time being - is critical. I include it because I think this is a very important issue too - encouraging universities to avoid bloated, vacuous claims made in order to attract students.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amOXSRga0nM
'

Meet our academic staff from the Department of Politics and International Relations.

There's standard stuff, the expectation of a 'fun' time in the department may well be far from the reality. The reality does include, of course, the pressures of assessment, the pressure of examinations but more importantly, the study of Politics, like the study of Military History, but not to the same extent, can never be viewed in a purely hedonistic way. Some of the subject is necessarily far from comforting, does nothing to confirm over-optimistic views of people and societies.

Professor Flinders says,

 'What makes Sheffield a special Department of Politics? Well, there are lots of things and I would just reduce them down to one thing. [This isn't strictly true or true in a much looser sense - there's more than one thing.] I think it's got a really good culture or vibe, it's a very inclusive, dynamic, engaging and optimistic department to be part of whether you're an undergraduate or postgraduate, member of staff, member of support staff, a member of alumni, there's a lot going on and it's very exciting and it's just a fun place to be. So there you go -  I go with the vibe and I think we've got a pretty good one.'

This is a set of empty claims, a generic piece with no individuality at all. Innumerable other departments of politics and international relations could make the claims but if they have any sense, wouldn't. Leave out the first sentence here, omit the mention of undergraduates, postgraduates and alumni and this piece could be used for a different purpose, to attract new staff to companies and organizations with no connection with education. By making a few chang

Decamping the encampment, decluttering the space, restoring the freedom to film and to photograph there, to walk there without obstruction, intimidation and the threat of violence, ridding the university and the city of this indoctrination camp: stages in the recovery, illustrated with photographs.

Scrolling down the page will quickly show the range and variety of the photographs in these two columns. From my page Sheffield Labour Friends of Palestine and other organizations

'Unflattering caricatures and cartoons can be used to represent people. Pro-Palestinian protesters can be shown in unflattering ways. They hate being shown in simple photographs, if the photographer happens to be opposed to their views. Again and again, they panic or become aggressive. Taking photographs of pro-Palestinian protesters showing them in a state of panic or responding aggressively when they realize they're being photographed is perfectly legitimate, a lawful activity, freely permitted. They like to suppress legitimate, lawful activities when it suits their purposes. But my purposes are very different, my way of thinking is very different, as they will have noticed.

'In a world where people take photographs very, very often with their phones (I'm not one of them - I use photography far less often, in a far more restricted way, always with a camera, not a phone) then their ban on photographs of themselves is ridiculous - rather, their attempted ban is ridiculous. It can't possibly be defended. If they think they can defend it they should go ahead and give their reasons.'

The encampment will be dismantled and the protesters will leave without a single one of their demands accepted, such as the fantasy demand that there should be disengagement from armaments production. Democracies need armaments to protect themselves. If they don't have armaments, they will be overwhelmed by tyrannies. Before very long, there won't be a trace of the camp in the Concourse and the political and military situation in the Middle East won't have been changed in the slightest by this project.

Do the camper-protesters really believe that the wider community will be outraged by the decision of Sheffield University to request that they should withdraw, that the encampment should be taken down? Do they really believe that a mass movement is in the making at this encampment and other university encampments,  unstoppable, certain to achieve its aims? The University has the power to have  them evicted and they will be evicted if they refuse to go. The wider public won't take  action to support the protesters. They've got many other things on their mind, they've got lives to live. The protesters are expecting - demanding - that other people think as they think. They're making a bad mistake.

See also the many photographs in the column to the left, all taken despite the campers' ban on photography, despite the intimidation, obstructive behaviour and aggression of some of them, the posturing of so many more. The encampment tries to enforce the ban but fails.

The encampment hasn't been decamped yet but it will be, for certain - the campers will leave, one way or another, without agreement to a single one of their demands.

In this column, text and photographs from 4 June onwards (except for the third photograph above, taken on a visit before this period), the day after Sheffield University informed the protesters that they should dismantle the encampment. The university should have taken this action a long time ago.

Some of the photographs show the timidity of protesters, their sensitivity to being photographed or filmed,  protesters who realizesthat they are being filmed or photographed who cover their faces, with a hat in one case, with a hand in the other.    Below, a photograph of a group of campers,   with a sign 'NO Photos' on the right. When they realized that they were being filmed, they scattered and fled the scene. If there hadn't been the 'NO Photos' sign, I wouldn't have published this photograph, which was taken 4 June. I've included it just to make a point - that I see absolutely no reason to follow yet another demand of these protesters. The sign has no force in law.

The photographs are published for a variety of reasons, not all of them explained in detail on this page. There have been incidents which have been disturbing, Attempts have been made by students and some non-student protesters to deny a clear-cut legal right to take photographs, to film in a public place and even to walk in a particular direction in a particular place.  In  some cases, the behaviour has been intimidating, threatening, actively obstructive. This, the public place of a university, has become  in general a hostile place.

On two occasions, I've been able to have courteous, wide-ranging, quite lengthy discussions about aspects of Israeli-Palestinian relations - only to find, when I mentioned that I'd like to take some photographs now, that the tone has altered in an instant. One of the two people said that I can't possibly take photographs, the other actively obstructed me, and the obstruction went on and on. I found that the free and open discussion, which took place in a very quiet place well away from the main area of the encampment,  had been simply a tactic on their part to prevent me from taking photographs.

I've spent a great deal of time at the encampment simply observing. I haven't so far recorded nearly enough of the everyday activities of the students there. In fact, they are all students, or if they're not all students, there are no staff there, despite any propaganda claims to the contrary. Their activities don't seem strenuous at all. They spend a very great deal of time socializing.  The claims to be building an unstoppable, revolutionary force for change are wish-fulfilment and illusion. It's impossible to satisfy their insatiable appetite for making demands. Their demands are grossly unrealistic, products of a fantasy world. Their campaigning methods are  crude, blundering, incompetent.

I'm sure that I'm justified in recording in text and image their activities, but even so, I'll consider all requests for removal of images. I won't give way to demands to remove  images. Further information on the page About this site.

Sheffield University
Camp Bulletin 6/5/2024:

We will remain camping until our demands are met

Concise History of the 2024 Encampment:

Going ... going ... not quite gone ... gone ... failed, but not forgotten

Not forgotten on this site at least. The content here - and future content - will stay (but be revised, when time allows.)

Below, photograph taken on the same date, showing that tents are still much too close together and too close to buildings.

For the first time, I filmed not in the Concourse where the encampment is situated - for the time being -  but from the pavement next to the busy public road above the Concourse. After not much more than 5 minutes of filming, I left to return to my parked van but by this time, a student from the encampment had appeared. He was tall, very tall, and was wearing a voluminous high visibility yellow coat, but most of his face was uncovered. I recognized him from previous visits to the encampment. 

I walked downhill and he walked next to me, agitated, angry and aggressive. This was a reaction on his part which was disturbing.  I had been filming a public space from another public space, a pavement next to a busy main road, a fully legal activity, like the taking of photographs or filming in the Concourse below, the public area where the tents are. 

I realized that this was something that needed action on my part. I'd no intention of allowing him to walk next to me until I reached the place where my van was parked. What I did was to walk suddenly to the left, quickly crossing the broad road towards the Chemistry building. He didn't follow me and seemed to be turning back. Instead, he decided to continue following me, but on the other side of the road. I took out my mobile phone so that I could phone for assistance if need be. He did turn back at last. I'd  assume that there would be some sort of reaction at the encampment when he got back but wasn't there to see it. CCTV may well have a record of any later developments.

This was the fifth time that students or other pro-Palestinian protesters have actively tried to stop me taking photographs or filming. On one of those occasions, I was attacked, in the others, an individual has obstructed me by standing very close, stopping me from walking where I wanted to go.

The demand that I shouldn't exercise my legal right to take photographs or to film, the demand that I shouldn't be able to walk where I want, are demands I'll resist.

These are just a few freedoms and of course there are many more. A Royal Navy page on the commemorations of D-day includes these  comments:

The need 'to instil in the generation we have now how much was sacrificed for our freedoms.'

The King spoke of the need to 'always remember, cherish and honour those who served that day and live up to the freedoms which they died for.' [I'm not myself a Royalist.]

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key said, 'They set an example to us all and we should not take for granted in our times what it took to achieve in their pasts.'

Yesterday, the protester was walking much too close to me but not obstructing me. The risks of a serious incident are appreciable in such situations as this, as I  see it. It would be very easy for a protester to punch me in the face and the consequences could be serious for me and serious for the protester, who would probably face police action.  Sheffield University has allowed the situation to go on for far too long.

Visit of 6 June: photographs and update on decamping and recovery

Inside one of the  flammable tents, with flammable flags. I didn't have to go into the tent to take the picture.

 

Another interior, with assorted flammable materials on the table, with more flammable flags.

The update comes from the naive, fatuous 'magazine,' 'Now Then.' An extract from a naive and fatuous article by Maryam Jameela of June 6.

https://nowthenmagazine.com/articles/university-of-sheffield-threatens-to-remove-palestine-encampment-as-students-dig-in

'When asked if the university had indeed asked students to leave the encampment, a spokesperson from UoS [University of Sheffield]told Now Then:

Protesters have been reminded that they do not have the University’s permission for an encampment and that they are trespassing, so have been asked to leave safely and peacefully.

The encampment exists to protest the university’s ties to the arms trade that is facilitating the genocide in Palestine, to express solidarity with Palestinians, including students, and to allow free expression from students about their own university’s complicity as they see it.

Having visited the encampment a number of times, I’ve seen first hand how students are building a community where they can learn together, eat together, hold events for children, and make posters all in an effort to build solidarity around Palestine. Is the university’s problem with such activities that it doesn’t involve the commodification of education? That students are applying the critical thinking skills the university is supposed to hone?

It is entirely remarkable that the university considers the students to be trespassing on their own campus. How else would the university have them express their beliefs on Palestine? In a less noticeable way, perhaps?'

The claim that students are applying 'critical thinking skills' is stupendous, stupendously naive, based on illusion and delusion.

I've tried to get students to use some 'critical thinking skills.' I've not got anywhere. To give just one example, I've asked some of them  to comment on the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Gaza and punished by imprisonment for up to ten years. I pointed out that in Israel, homosexuality is fully legal. Gay Pride events take place and the ones in Tel Aviv are massive events. In Iran, of course, homosexuality is subject to the death penalty.

Now Then specializes in naive articles. This is an extract from one which shows their utopian / dystopian tendencies, their absolute failure to recognize realities: nothing less than the abolition of borders. Actual borders aren't named, but the ridiculous minds at Now Then obviously see no great difficulty in abolishing the border between Britain and France and the border between Russia and Poland or the border between the United States and Mexico.

The author of the article is the same Maryam Jameela who wrote the article on the encampment. The extract:

Give Over is a border abolition project that is looking for pitches for publication in Now Then Magazine.

Give Over is a project that uses border abolition as a way to reframe media reporting of refugees and immigration more broadly. We use workshops, archival work, and re-visioned journalism to challenge white supremacist and racist attitudes to movement. We want to push people from a point of "refugees welcome" to a point of understanding the violence required in order to maintain borders.

Give Over is primarily based in Sheffield, but we’re keen to hear from anyone who has a viewpoint on abolition of borders. We’re interested in working with journalists who understand that mainstream journalism is often a tool of propaganda designed to manufacture consent for colonial, racist, and dehumanising immigration policies. We’d like to hear from people interested in writing about:

  • Reflections on lived experiences of borders

  • Explorations of abolition of borders as a vision for a more just future ... '

I sent an email to Now Then outlining some objections to the camp and I did receive a reply. It includes this:

Thanks for your email. We try to read every email we get but we're not able to respond to everything. The small Now Then team all works part-time - and none of us work on Fridays - so we will get back to you when we can, if we are able.'

Signed,

Philippa, Maryam, Sam and Sam

So Maryam Jameela is one of 'the team.'

The email gave the surprising information that Now Then endorses and takes part in something called a 'Festival of Debate' in Sheffield. Any change of a debate on Encampment Issues? Any chance of publishing an article: 'The Encampment: For and Against?' I'd be happy to write a section 'Against' and they could publish a section 'For.' I wouldn't mind if the 'For' section was much longer than the 'Against' section.

Does Now Then believe in honest and open debate or are pretending to support debate but in fact doing what they can to stifle debate, to suppress debate?

It would be possible - easy - to organize a debate at the encampment, where encampment students could demonstrate their 'critical thinking skills.'

The campers oppose armaments. One of their demands is that Sheffield University should disengage from work which advances armaments production. SCCP (Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine) has produced a report which actually gives wide-ranging evidence - but it omits mention of aspects which are fundamental, such as the necessity of defending democracies against aggression by means of armaments. Without a nuclear deterrent, the United Kingdom would be helpless in the face of the threat from Putin's Russia, which of course has a nuclear deterrent.

This is the entry for Rolls Royce in the evasive, idiotic report. Rolls Royce is, of course, the company which manufactured the Merlin engine, used in the Supermarine Spitfire and De Havilland Mosquito and other aircraft vital for defence in the struggle against Nazi Germany, more than forty aircraft in total. The material here could be taken as strong endorsement of Rolls Royce and not in the least criticism. The section seems to have been simply cut from an existing source and pasted, with the pretence that it contributes to making a case against armaments.

ROLLS ROYCE Rolls Royce is a UK company that develops power and propulsion solutions for the Defence Industry, making $4.9 billion (31 per cent of its revenue) in 2022 from defence. The University's partnership is broad and historic. Rolls Royce has had, since the 1990s, dedicated research programmes in the two Rolls-Royce University Technology Centres for ‘Advancing developments in technology for future Rolls-Royce markets’. These programmes have ‘looked after the company’s technical interests, enabling Rolls-Royce to advance their technology and meet future market requirements, improving products and increasing productivity.’ Projects within Control and Systems Engineering UTC ‘range from monitoring systems to wireless technologies. Improving risk assessment methods to minimise potential disruption has applications for aircraft gas turbine engines and industrial turbogenerators’. The University ‘support(s) Rolls-Royce throughout their business activity in design, development, manufacture and service provision for integrated power systems that are used in the air, on land and at sea.’[60] The Advanced Electrical Machines and Drives UTC projects include investigating fault-tolerant generators for the 'more-electric' aircraft.[61] Rolls Royce has also been responsible for manufacturing and maintaining the UK’s nuclear power systems for its submarine fleet for over 60 years. The Nuclear AMRC works with Rolls Royce on a range of confidential submarine-related projects. The value of the Nuclear AMRC work is not publicly available. [62] Alongside BAE Systems and the MoD the company will develop the power systems for the UK’s new nuclear deterrent in a project worth £31 billion.[63]

The full report is available at

https://sheffield-coalition.co.uk/research/uos-report.pdf

Who are the authors? Name them!

Visit of 7 June

Visit of 8 June

Impressions: the encampment yesterday and the camp today seem very different. Today, the camp seems much smaller, far less cluttered. It gives the impression that already, steps have been taken which will lead to its end. There were more people there than I expected, for the time of day, but the place seemed very subdued. The changes I saw may be temporary or they may be reversed. I hope the camp will end, and end soon - in defeat. This is a place I've no wish to keep visiting.

The aftermath may be an aftermath of excuses, explaining away, perhaps active recriminations, perhaps with action intended to show that 'the struggle continues.' I hope not. Continued action would be just as fatuous, ridiculous and stupid as the encampment itself.

See also, on other pages, comment on 
Cambridge University and Royal Holloway
Harvard University

After the email

Photographs after the improvements
Copy of the email
Reply to the email

Before the email

Ignorance of fire dangers
Dr Lisa Stampnitzky and Sheffield Camping- Campus Coalition for Palestine, SU
SU Department of Politics and International Relations: reasons to avoid
The Concourse Camp: the case against, including fire danger
My involvement in fire safety work
Israeli-Palestinian relations: the case for Israel. Includes discussion of civilian casualties in time of war and the gross unfairness of accusations of genocide in connection with Israel
What do the student protesters at the camp want? What are their demands?
UCU (University and College Union)
Professor Umberto Albarella,  SU
Dr A Takriti,  SU
Some Sheffield University Signatories:
Dr J. Nyman, Dr L. Stanley, Dr J. Tidy et al.

The material on this page is in layers, added as events developed. The resulting structure is a little complex in places and will require some changes, but I'm sure it's clear enough.





es, using some capital letters for emphasis, a different font, perhaps, and some exclamation marks, it could be used by a department which is part of a fizzy drinks company:

What makes Fizz-U-like a SPECIAL company?

Well, there are LOTS of things and I'd reduce them down to one thing - it's got a really good culture or VIBE, it's a very inclusive, dynamic, engaging and optimistic department to be part of, whether you're a skilled bottle-filling machine operator, a member of our warehouse team or a manager, there's a lot going on and it's VERY exciting and it's just a FUN place to be!!!

So there you go - I go with the vibe and I think we've got a pretty good one!

 

 


 

 

 

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