Israel called for the resignation of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday as he angered Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan, who believed that Guterres was “Tolerating and Justifying” terrorism. This has come following the address that the UN Secretary-General made the same day, calling for an immediate cease-fire in Israel, Palestine and Gaza following the militant conflict between Hamas and Israel that started on Saturday.

The Secretary-General seemed to hedge around the subject of blame while condemning terrorism but not accusing Israel nor Palestine of being wrong in their ‘defence’. In response to the Secretary-General’s public address, the Israeli Ambassador responded by saying, “The Secretary-General is blaming the victim. You are blaming Israel. This is a pure blood libel, and I think that the secretary-general must resign… unless he apologizes immediately today. This response plainly demonstrates that emotions are running high both in Israel and Palestine alike, as The Israeli Ambassador has resorted to using such graphic language to display his personal upset for those who are unaware Blood Libel is the accusation that Jewish people used the blood of Christians in spiritual rituals, namely in Passover bread. This accusation is essentially another accusatory phrase synonym with anti-semitism, despite this. However, in the Secretary General’s speech, he explicitly said, “I have condemned equivocally the 7th of October attacks by Hamas in Israel.” leaving people to ask why the Israeli Ambassador believes that Israel is being blamed.

This harrowing accusation could possibly be detrimental to Guterres’s career as Secretary-General. Guterres himself made a public response on Wednesday, saying, “I am shocked by the misinterpretations in some of my statements yesterday in the Security Council—as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite,” according to The Times of Israel.

“Freedom for Palestine” Protest Bournemouth Town Centre Saturday 21st  October

This response from Guterres came on the day that many protests occurred around the world in support of Palestine while simultaneously condemning Hamas, which many members of the public have admitted is a difficult balancing act as the stigma of supporting Palestine has come with the label of being antisemitic. This, therefore, they worry, is making people less comfortable and therefore less likely to stand up for what they believe in and what they think is right.

The Guardian has named this incident as a “Bitter Row” between the Secretary-General and the Israeli ambassador; however, it seems to be of public opinion that the media should be less focused on the debates taking place away from the conflict and more coverage be focused on the armed conflict itself, as a Protester put it “Peace between the nations on and off the battlefield is all I ask for; justice is of no concern to me; all I ask is for the destruction to stop.”

Bournemouth University Biomedical student Dina Williamson protesting at her campus

When interviewing protesters and members of the general public, both with and without personal connections to the struggles in Gaza, Palestine, and Israel, an overwhelming sense of frustration and determination was apparent, and Dina Williamson, pictured above, is no exception. Her protest was admirable; standing atop a bench within her campus, she held her sign aloft and gaged herself to display to her peers that she was protesting silently. Her banner read, “I stand in peaceful protest for Gaza. Will you stand with me awhile?” On the day of the protest, she had some support from her peers who stood alongside her; however, she confessed that she saw a few turn their heads and refuse to acknowledge her. However, as she continued to stand, the campus security asked her to leave, and when she did not comply, she was informed that the police would be called to remove her from campus forcibly. Dina confessed that she was aware she could lose her degree following her protest, similar to how Harvard University students have already been suspended and blacklisted by CEOs from standing up for what they believe in. Nevertheless, Dina continued to stand in support of her family, namely her aunt and uncle, who are trapped in Gaza and with whom she has intermittent contact. Since the water, electricity, and fuel have been cut as well in Gaza, and as the internet has been knocked out this past Friday, it is immensely important that humanitarian aid be allowed back into the Gaza strip and that the pipelines for the water be turned back on with the electricity to pump them, as the people of Gaza are dying and this needs to stop.

This group of protesters was situated outside of Bournemouth University on the day the secretary general made the statement. These protesters carried a megaphone, chanting the phrase “free Palestine”. They consisted of both university students and members of the public who had no affiliation with the university but cared enough about the conflict to participate in the protest. The group seemed peaceful, if not a little loud, but keen to make their voices heard despite refusing to provide an official comment to me. The group elicited a lot of support from passersby, namely the bus drivers who were honking their horns in support, which prompted other cars to participate.

It seems since the UN Secretary-General has come under fire that people seem more inclined to participate in protests, whether it be in bigger ways such as Dina or in smaller ways such as the passing cars showing support outside the university. People seem to have more confidence in protesting when it is more difficult for them to be held personally responsible, but in whatever way people protest, there is an overwhelming support for Palestine.

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