‘The only solution for Israel is to annex the Gaza Strip and kill those sons of bitches’.
Tonight, October 30th, 2023, the Oxford Union hosted Ben Shapiro, a conservative political pundit who spoke extensively on the Israel-Palestine conflict. His presence was met with around 30 protestors directly outside the union and around 10 policemen. The protestors campaigned against the Union for hosting ‘racist hate speakers’ and for the right of Palestine to respond to occupation. Shapiro dismissed their chants, such as ‘from the river to the sea’ as ‘genocidal slogans’.
He stated that the events of October 7th marked ‘the worst pogrom against Jews since the Holocaust’. On his X (Twitter) account, he stated this afternoon that ‘The Pogroms are back’. He further said that anyone who refused to condemn HAMAS (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement) ‘is a Jew hater, full stop, end of story’.
When asked if he would condemn the death of innocent Palestinian civilians, Shapiro replied ‘absolutely not’.
He followed this by stating, ‘Of course it’s sad. It’s sad when anyone who’s innocent dies’, but ‘Hamas should be blamed for the death of innocent Palestinian civilians’.
Shapiro continued to note that ‘Hamas likes living in sewage and blowing things up. This is their goal’.
The Union’s atmosphere intensified when audience questions were opened. Many participants clapped exclusively either for the self-identified pro-Palestine questioners or Ben Shapiro’s pro-Israeli responses.
One Union member present described the atmosphere as ‘very tense’.
Shapiro responded to questions on the Great March of Return, a series of peaceful demonstrations in the Gaza Strip in 2018 and 2019, where 223 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, by stating, ‘I’m unaware of all the details you are talking about … there is no right to return’.
Another audience member asked how he could remedy his views with Jewish values of compassion. Shapiro answered, ‘Compassion also requires that you obliterate terrorist threats to your own population’.
He denied the allegation that he had used an AI-generated image of a baby, which he produced for the audience to see by declaring, ‘No I didn’t, that is a lie, that isn’t true’.
He condemned Palestinian images by suggesting that they were ‘repurposing pictures that were taken from Syria and saying this is happening in Gaza’.
Another Oxford Union member condemned his responses by questioning, ‘Where are children meant to go? This is not a just war’. Shapiro continued to reassert the importance of avoiding making ‘moral equivalents’, contextualising Palestinian casualties as the consequence of ‘Terrorists hiding behind a baby’.
When questioned on whether he was propagating hate speech, as accused by the protest group outside the Oxford Union, Shapiro said, ‘Hate speech is a principle that doesn’t exist’.
He, however, drew a line between his right to free speech and stated, ‘Openly supporting terrorist groups goes beyond the bounds of free speech.’
He further noted that journalists, such as from the New York Times, who ‘uncritically parroted Hamas … should be fired’.
He ended his speech by asking the students of the Oxford Union to ‘check their brains’.
Ben Shapiro has not yet responded to a request for comment.
For coverage of the UN debate in Gaza, see our OX1 column.