Questions to Strategy and Resources Committee March 12th

As we have reported elsewhere the council has tried to duck any action and responsibility for setting a moral climate in this city by referring the petition signed by 7500 people to the Strategy and Resources Committee.

We are sending three questions to Strategy and Resources Committee March 12th 2024:

Question One

As we understand it, Strategy and Resources is the committee charged with debating matters of “significant strategic importance” and for considering “any policy matter not otherwise allocated to a committee.”

In the light of this, we note that the drafting of a statement of unity and solidarity, agreed in full Council on March 6th, has not been referred to a committee per se, but to a “cross-party group”. Our questions relate to that group.

  • When will this group meet?
  • What is the composition of that group to be?

Matters pertaining to the composition of the group:

In a previous cross-party group of three, a decision was taken by two of the three members to fly the Israeli flag on October 10th 2023. Other West Yorkshire Councils chose to fly the peace flag, so discretion was an option.

  • Would it be appropriate to reconvene only this group of three, given a past decision by two of them to adopt a partisan position?
  • Would it be appropriate to include a member who said on March 6th (inter alia)” …Passing a resolution at Sheffield City Council in November didn’t bring about a ceasefire… If you really think that passing a resolution is going to change the situation on the ground, I have to disagree with you.” ?

Does this committee agree that those utterances suggest a lack of understanding of:

  • the central importance of statements of moral leadership to the role of elected representatives?
  • the way that this builds confidence in the electorate that those elected to serve have high moral integrity?

Can we assure petitioners that the composition of the cross-party group will be made up of members who:

  • inspire confidence that they are equal to the task and understand the clear brief of producing a “statement of unity and solidarity with the Palestinian people”
  • Reflect the supportive tone of Councillors’ contributions in the chamber on March 6th?

Question Two

At the full Council meeting on March 6th , the petition signed by some 7,500 people was discussed. After some intense and revealing debate, it was decided to refer the petition to this committee. Petitioners expressed strong concerns about further delays to the Council’s response to this important petition. They had no option but to
contrast the numerous supportive measures, offered without let or hindrance by the Council, to the Ukrainian people, clearly demonstrated on the city Council’s website.

Unnecessary delays will exacerbate concerns about what is seen as the Council’s selective morality when it comes to some sorely oppressed people, in contrast to others, like Ukrainians.

Community cohesion, often referred to as a priority by Council leadership, cannot be achieved by failure to oppose genocide, apartheid or by flagrant double standards on whose lives we value.

This committee now has the weighty responsibility of discussing further the petition. Our questions today require urgent answers which must then be communicated to the large number of petitioners.

  • What is the time frame for this discussion?
  • Will the matter be tabled for the April 17 th meeting, the agenda of which has not yet been set?
  • How will that discussion be structured? E.g. Will the Strategy and Resources committee consider each element of the petition separately and also reach a determination on them separately (as we understood from comments in Full Council ) ?
  • Will the Strategy and Resources Committee undertake to reach a full decision on all the petition’s elements within that meeting

Question Three

I note that this committee is today considering a report recommending a new flag protocol, and that the report contains a number of days which will be marked by specific flags being flown each year. I note the absence from that list of the United Nations Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, marked on November 29th each year.

General Assembly resolution 32/40B, passed in December 1977, introduced the day of solidarity, and the UN has marked the day ever since. The UN resolution also encourages Member states to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the day of solidarity.

Some of you may not be aware that Sheffield City council flew the Palestinian flag on 29th November each year between 1995 and 2000 but has failed to do so since then.

Recently the leader of the Council has reaffirmed that the Council recognises the State of Palestine. If this is to mean anything at all, it is surely time for the Council to commit to fly the Palestinian flag each November 29th. Will this committee agree to do so?

Press release: council refuses to vote on petition

Yesterday we presented the petition signed by at least 7500 people both online and on paper, but the council at the behest of leaders and advice of senior officers, hid behind procedural barriers to avoid having to face the strength of support on this issue and delegated the issue to the Strategy and Resources Committee.

Below is the press release issued by Sheffield  Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid as a result of this cowardly approach.

Here are questions being sent by the Coalition to the Strategy and Resources Committee.

PRESS RELEASE: Sheffield City Council sells itself short

Sheffield City Council was presented with a petition this afternoon calling on them to stand in unity and solidarity with Palestinians currently faced with a genocidal assault in Gaza following years of living under occupation by Israel which Amnesty International, among several international organisations, has designated an apartheid state.

“Supporting the International Court of Justice ruling on genocide, accepting Amnesty’s designation of Israel as practising apartheid, and issuing a statement of unity and solidarity with Palestinians is the next crucial moral step which recognises the reality of life in Palestine and the legally incontrovertible explanations for it.  That would be a major step.” Annie O’Gara summing up in support of the petition.

The petition was signed by over 7,500 people, collected in less than two weeks; it represents the overwhelming view of Sheffield citizens

Offered this opportunity, the Council neglected their duty to set a moral climate, hiding behind narrow legalistic “advice” which they couldn’t adequately explain. But even this advice would have allowed them to make a decision in “exceptional” circumstances. What more “exceptional circumstances” do they need than genocide in Gaza?

As Jonny Feldman said in presenting the petition “For these reasons the council must step up and not be silent. Do not betray your humanity, your basic decency by looking the other way or by kow-towing to external pressures and then pretending that what is happening is justifiable”.

That is precisely what the leadership of the Council then did. Every speech from the floor of the Council gave moving and powerful support to the petition and in favour of accepting it.  As Councillor Peter Price said, in his last meeting after 53 years as a Councillor, said: “if this was Russia we’d be screaming the room down…. I don’t accept that we don’t have influence. Our history is built on this Council taking leads, whether it’s on apartheid or Vietnam, always took a stance and made a statement. It doesn’t change the world but it helped to change minds”.

But the leaders, the Lord Mayor, and senior officers of the Council called an adjournment and then instructed all Councillors, except the Greens, to kick the discussion into the long grass by referring it to the Strategy and Resources Committee that next meets in June! How many more Palestinians have to die before they can decide that this is genocide?

“At the end of their joint statement on Ukraine, the 3 party leaders said the Town Hall would be lit in Ukrainian colours and promised Sheffield will do all it can to “be a light in the darkness.” How dark does life for Palestinians have to get before you do the same for Palestine? You can do it today” said Annie O’Gara speaking to the Council today.

International Women’s Day: Solidarity Camp, 8th March

Following on from our other justice now camps, there will be camp a further Peace and Justice Now Camp in order to celebrate International Women’s Day to stand in solidarity with Palestinian Women.

Please join us :

Sheffield Peace Gardens on Friday 8th March between 3pm and 8pm

  • 2.45 establish our ‘Peace & Justice Now’ Camp in Peace Gardens
  • From 3pm: Decorating the ‘Peace & Justice Now’ Camp….
  • Activities for children & adults with Sheffield Creative Action for Peace (including making Birds of Gaza)
  • 3.30pm Tadhamon Solidarity Choir
  • 4pm Students arrive, marching from campus with their Birds of Gaza
  • 4.15pm Sahar & Lena, with Janet & June: song for children killed in Gaza:
  • Yoma mweil el hawa.
  • 4.45 – 5pm: poetry and song from Seni Seneviratne, inc poems by Hiba Abu Nada – a poet who was killed with her son in October
  • 5 pm Reading by Sahar of ‘The Shawl of Grief’
  • 5.15-6pm Open session: Contributions from women & girls of song & poetry for Palestine welcomed, especially a poem from 11 year old Amna Khan.
  • 6pm Light up the Peace Gardens: Bring night lights/candles & flags
  • 6.30pm Special guest from Gaza: Dr Mona El Farrah
  • And Health Workers for Palestine Vigil
  • 7.30 – 8pm Singing and close of camp

Please circulate these flyers

Sheffield University failing students from Gaza

For the last 10 years the University of Sheffield has offered an annual taught postgraduate scholarship to a student from Gaza. Since 2013, the University has offered tuition, accommodation and a small maintenance grant.

Despite this legacy, the University has not made any public statements about the welfare and wellbeing of any current or past Gazan students.

As a result of this, on the 7th February 2024, a group of 27 Students Union sabbatical officers – who are elected to represent students – published an open letter to the University’s senior leadership sharing their profound concern and dismay due to the absence of a public statement or evident action to support Palestinians who have graduated from, or are studying at the University.

The University of Sheffield has not replied to this request despite the continuing Israeli attacks on every university in Gaza, and the killing of over 80 professors and academics.

The University must support its students and alumni, and respond to the open letter.

Call for Alumni to send a letter

If you are or have been part of the University of Sheffield, please email their alumni department using our template letter.

Despite providing an annual scholarship to a student from Gaza since 2013, the University had been silent – it has not responded to the open letter sent in Feb ‘24 by over 25 former and current Student Union Sabbatical Officers, who requested confirmation of the support available for Palestinian students and alumni.

Insist that the University make: a public statement on its support for Gazan students and alumni!

More information about attacks on the right to education in Gaza

Sign petition to end complicity with Israeli Apartheid!

Do you live, work or study in Sheffield? If so, please read, sign and circulate this petition today – we must reach our target of 5,000 signatures in a fortnight!

The people of Gaza have been under barbaric genocidal attacks for weeks. Over 30,000 people have been killed – 11,000 of them are children. Yet still there is no ceasefire.

In the West Bank, Palestinians continue to to be forcibly removed from their homes and face daily threats from settlers and the military. Over 7,000 Palestinians are detained in Israeli jails, without charge or trial.

It’s time for Sheffield City Council to show leadership once more. We call on Sheffield City Council to declare our city an Israeli Apartheid-free zone and to issue a statement of solidarity with Palestinian people.


Zechariah Deutsch, an Associate Chaplain at the University of Sheffield and several other universities travelled to Israel to serve as an IDF reservist.

Deutsch sent a video to students stating that “what Israel is trying to do is destroy the evil”. He is an active participant in Israel’s merciless campaign of occupation, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

We charge him with genocide! He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands!

Deutsch has now returned to the UK, and is visiting the universities he is associated with. He has already been to Leeds and now he is planned to visit our campus on this Wednesday.

Our university has done nothing in response to our letters! They have failed to cut ties with this genocidal maniac! STAND WITH US AND SAY NO IDF ON OUR CAMPUS! THE UNIVERSITY MUST CUT TIES WITH DEUTSCH AND BAN HIS PRESENCE!

Join us and say no to war criminals on campus!

Time: Wednesday 14th February 2024, 12:30pm

Location: University of Sheffield, SU concourse

Bring banners and placards. Stay safe and use a face mask!


We shut Barclays down today!

A group of campaigners went in to Barclays at midday today while others set up the 24 hour camp .

Very quickly Barclays management issued a notice to customers apologising for closing the branch “due to circumstances beyond their control” . This is of course not true. It is very much IN their control to disinvest from weapons factories sending arms to Israel. So this notice…

…got replaced quite quickly:

So the doorway is ours for a little while…

Don’t bank on Barclays!!

Barclays is bankrolling Israel’s genocidal assault on Palestinians through its financial ties with arms companies that sell weapons to Israel.

We’re calling on all concerned people to boycott all Barclays services until the bank ends its complicity in Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.

IN SHEFFIELD, we are camping outside Barclays for 24 hours to draw attention to their complicity with genocide and to continue our demand for an Israeli Apartheid Free Zone in this great city.

Let’s not forget Sheffield’s great tradition of solidarity – from the anti slavery sugar boycott in the 1850s, solidarity with Chilean refugees in the 1970s and South African anti apartheid campaign in the 1980s when Barclays were boycotted before and paid the price!!