SMT statement on Middle East crisis

This page sets out the position of Goldsmiths' Senior Management Team in relation to the crisis in the Middle East. It was published and shared with students and staff on 16 October 2023.

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Goldsmiths SMT believes that the situation in the Middle East is deeply distressing and condemns the disregard being shown for the fundamental human rights of Israeli and Palestinian civilians.   

We deplore the traumas experienced by innocent people in Israel and Gaza and we call for an immediate de-escalation of the violence.     

We know that Jewish students and staff are experiencing deep pain following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas, and recognise the impact this atrocity is having on them and their loved ones.    

We know that our community with friends and family in Gaza are suffering and we agree with interventions made by the international community, including the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, in calling for measures which allow for urgent humanitarian support to be delivered. 

With tensions continuing to grow over the whole Middle East region, we join calls for all parties and states to show restraint above everything else.  

As a leadership team and as individuals, over the last week we have been asking ourselves what we can meaningfully do to help support our student and staff communities at this hugely challenging time. 

We understand we cannot speak on behalf of all of Goldsmiths. There is a diversity of views held by our community and this statement looks to represent the collective view of SMT and not that of the the College as a whole. However, we believe it is important for us a group to share our view as a way of providing reassurance and guidance. 

At the moment, our priority is providing the best support possible to students and staff at Goldsmiths – to those with loved ones in the region who are directly affected and those who do not have such close ties but have been impacted by the terrible toll on humanity.     

We want our students and staff to feel safe and supported, in a place that has empathy and understanding at its heart. We know this doesn’t mean asking people to set aside their beliefs: we know that there may be disagreements and potentially deep upset between individuals and groups who hold completely different views about the situation.       

Goldsmiths must be a place where difficult conversations can happen with the support of the College to make sure they meet the bottom line of being lawful with regards to human rights, equality, freedom of speech and education.      

Within this, we have to guard against situations where feelings run so high that they lead to Antisemitic or Islamophobic acts. We have seen a rise in these unacceptable behaviours across the UK over the last week, and recognise that universities are not immune.      

It is also vital that students and staff understand and respect that we are also all bound by laws relating to terror offences. Under these laws, Hamas is a proscribed terror organisation and signalling support, including moral support or expressing an opinion or belief that is supportive, is a criminal offence.  

So we are calling on students and staff at Goldsmiths to remember the human at the centre of this tragedy, and to place this above everything else. We ask for all students and staff to remain sensitive to the views of others at this very difficult and complex time.  

We also ask that students, staff and visitors remember that this applies to wherever a debate takes place – whether this is in a learning session, a social setting or online our behaviour should always look to speak to our shared values. 

It is with deep sadness that we should all prepare for this crisis to continue, making it all the more important to keep kindness at the centre of our community. At a time of such extreme distress our students and staff should be able to look to our inclusive community for solace and support, rather than division and upset.    

  • The Senior Management Team is responsible for overseeing the academic and administrative leadership of Goldsmiths

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