HJS statement on events in Israel and Palestine
9 October 2023
We are deeply shocked and devastated by the events in Israel and Palestine this weekend, which saw Hamas launch an unprecedented attack on Israel, and Israel in turn declare war on Hamas.
For students and staff in our Department, this war cuts very close to home on both personal and academic fronts. Many of us have lived in the region and/or have friends, family, and colleagues there whose safety and wellbeing are now of great concern. We are all struggling to process the loss of life caused by Hamas’ attack and the ensuing confrontations, and our sympathies and thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. We know that the terrible events are undoubtedly weighing heavily on many of you and would like you to know that we will do our best to support everyone in the Department through this difficult time.
Unfortunately, when things heat up politically in Israel and Palestine, Jewish-identified sites in the Diaspora are sometimes targeted. We would like to reassure you that UCL Security is taking the matter very seriously and will be stationing security guards on the our floor and at the entrance to our building for the foreseeable future. In order to help with these security measures, we’d like to request that you be vigilant and avoid holding the door to the HJS corridor open for anyone that you don’t know. In addition, there will be increased security presence at UCL gates and entrances in general. As a precaution, Security has asked the timetabling team to remove the room locations of HJS modules from the Common Timetable.
The Security Team recommends downloading SafeZone, a free app for UCL students and staff which in the event of an emergency allows you to quickly share your location and details so that they can get the right assistance to you.
We’re also aware that you may be concerned about being the target of hostility on campus and would like to reassure you that UCL takes harassment of any kind very seriously. Antisemitism, abuse, incitement and racism will never be tolerated. We encourage anyone to report any incidents of this through an online tool, Report + Support. Report + Support is open to all members of our community whether they are the recipient of or witness to any incident and it includes the option to report anonymously or on the record.
We understand that this is a particularly distressing situation for HJS students with friends and family in Israel and Palestine, and we’d like to draw your attention to the UCL Support Team for Students Affected by War, Conflict & Disaster, which hopefully can be of help to you. We’d additionally encourage you to get in touch with your personal tutor if you need extra support or would like to discuss any concerns you might have.
Please also have a look at these resources for UCL students and staff affected by the events, including the links mentioned above but also student and staff mental health services, information about academic adjustments, financial support, travel guidance, and more.
We are planning to organise some drop-in sessions (in person and online) where students and staff can come to be together and support each other. We’ll be in touch as soon as possible with details.
Finally, as we are all shaken up by the situation, it will be very difficult to carry on as if everything were ‘business as usual’, and both students and staff may wish to dedicate a bit of time in classes to discussing the situation.
Please know that we are here for you and take good care,
Department of Hebrew & Jewish Studies