This ﬁrst ordinary meeting of the 166th session of the Queens Literary and Scientiﬁc society took place on the second of October in the senate room and was attended by 97 members. President Naomh Gibson welcomed existing and new members before hearing presidents questions from Calvin Black, Brendan Kelters and Niall Robb. After a few announcements were made concerning private members business Ms Gibson announced the evenings motion THIS HOUSE WOULD IMPOSE SANCTIONS ON ISRAEL.
Opening remarks were heard from Professor Tony Gallagher, Pro-Vice Chancellor who welcomed the house to the debate before talking to us about the history of Queens and it’s link to the Literiﬁc. He remarked that he admired the house for not shying away from controversy and instead dealing with it professionally and sensitively. He reﬂected on his own work with certain Israeli Universities and the tenuous link between higher education and international relationships. He expressed Queens concern for what happens internationally and expressed his hope to hear an interesting and informed debate.
Mr Robert Murtagh opened for the proposition and reminded the house of the importance of respect in this debate. He posed the question of what had been done about the West Bank Settlements? He told the house, simply not enough and that a message needed to be sent. He spoke brieﬂy about the casualties of Operation Cast Lead, saying that the war crimes of Israel must stop. Mr Murtagh reﬂected on the statistics surrounding civilian deaths during Operation Protective Edge and told the house of the 4 boys who were tragically killed on a beach in Gaza. He spoke about the 24/7 oppression placed on Palestine, about resources being cut off before urging the house that before peace and justice are seen, responsibility must be accepted by Israel. Mr Murtagh concluded with a quote from Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.’
Professor Alan Johnson in his maiden speech then opened for the opposition. He stated that the BDS movement of Boycotting Divestment and Sanctions is unfair and unhelpful. He urged the house that both Israel and Palestine have rights to national self-determination and that what is needed is an agreement of territory. He asked the house how trust could be built in an environment where Israeli jews were excluded. He reminded the house that the BDS movement damages Palestine both economically and academically. He explained that there was delusion among the proposition surrounding the misunderstanding that Israel has peace and is simply withholding it whereas
Israeli worries about security are real. He concluded with the dedication of Hamas to destroy Israel.
Mr Sean Fearon in his maiden speech then closed for the proposition stating that this conﬂict has reached new and gruesome heights to the point where it was no longer a conﬂict, but a mass slaughter. He criticized the refusal to investigate war crimes and spoke against the IDFs murder of civilians. Mr Fearon called for a humanitarian response to the shelling of children. He urged the House to vote in favor of imposing sophisticated sanctions to replace passive and aggressive responses. He concluded by saying that Israel was in breach of the 4th Geneva Convention yet that Israel would argue protection, but that a blood red gaza was argument enough in support of Sanctions.
Mr Craig Miller in his maiden speech then closed for the opposition stating that Israel is on the frontline against Islamic extremism, and therefore an ally of the West. He stated the need to ﬁnd out who was at fault for the current conﬂict and the subsequent need for penalties. He criticized the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Jews before asking the house, if they were punched in the face, would you turn away, or would you ﬁght back? He stated that civilian death tolls were not a ﬁr way to judge any conﬂict and that proportionality was an ethical problem, rather than political. He criticized media coverage of the conﬂict in favor of Palestine when in fact Israel is not in breach of any humanitarian law. He stated that the proposition relied on the propaganda of dead babies but that we need to consider how ISIS is in violation of human rights. He concluded by saying how Israel was the safest place for Christians and urged the house to vote against imposing sanctions on Israel.
The debate went to the ﬂoor and question were heard from James McAlister, James Crowe, Niall Robb, Stephan somebody, Bronagh Bowerman, Brendan Kelters, and Duncan who said that Sinn Fein were the IRA….. Before the House was taken to a vote, professor Tony Gallagher made his closing remarks on the debate stating that it had clearly been an emotionally charged evening. He reﬂected on the focus on violation of international law and that topics such as this are easy to misunderstand. He expressed disappointment in the fact that he hadn’t heard as much about sanctions as he would like and encouraged the house to vote regarding their feelings on the sanctions themselves. The House went to a vote and the Motion was defeated with 6 ayes, 23 neighs and 7 abstentions.