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PureGym customers boycott firm after CEO expresses support for Israel

Growing solidarity as students occupy campuses from Gaza

A SURGE of PureGym members pledged today to terminate their memberships following remarks by the chain’s CEO indicating support for arming Israel.

Customers have been threatening to boycott the company after its boss Humphrey Cobbold spoke on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday.

When discussing if Britain should halt supplying arms to Israel, Mr Cobbold said that he believes that “defensive weapons” should still be allowed, and that Britain “should in general support the Israeli government in being able to defend themselves.”

After his comments, #BoycottPureGym has been trending on X, with many users saying that they have cancelled their memberships. 

“Boycott — your gym supports bombing kids,” has been sprayed in red on the entrance to a PureGym in Shoreditch. 

Another branch in Whitechapel has also been targeted with graffiti demanding a boycott. 

PureGym is one of Britain’s largest gym operators and has 362 gyms around the country.

Meanwhile, students at the University of Cambridge have continued to protest in an encampment outside King’s College, calling on the university to disclose financial and professional ties to Israel, and to divest from related organisations.

Citing three sources close to the college’s student union, the Middle East Eye (MEE) alleged today that the university’s wealthiest constituent college, Trinity College Cambridge, had voted to divest from arms companies in March.

But in a statement, Trinity only said that it “continues to review its investments regularly.”

In February, MEE reported that Trinity had invested £61,735 in Israel's largest weapons company, Elbit Systems.

On X, Cambridge for Palestine pointed to Trinity’s investments in other Israel-linked firms such as US-based heavy equipment company Caterpillar and Barclays Bank.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign has led a nationwide boycott against the bank, which holds over £2 billion in shares and provides £6.1bn in loans and underwriting to firms complicit in Israel’s attacks. 

Cambridge for Palestine added that the university has a £46m contract with the Ministry of Defence, and that the Institute for Manufacturing still partners with companies that facilitate the manufacturing of weapons and fighter jets. 

They wrote that the university “continues to profit from the colonial subjugation of the Palestinian people” and that students “will never give up until this is no longer the case.”

Today, students at Queen Mary University set up an encampment in Mile End in London, joining activists at universities including Aberdeen, Manchester, Liverpool and Oxford.

On Wednesday, Bands Boycott Barclays and the Peace and Justice Campaign will continue ramping up the boycott against the bank with a protest in Brighton on Nakba Day.

Their campaign has resulted in all acts pulling out of the opening party for “The Great Escape,” a festival sponsored by the bank. 

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