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Friday, 23 January 2009

Student Occupations Over Gaza - A First

An amazing thing is happening. For the first time ever students have gone into occupation over the question of Gaza. This is unprecedented. Never before has the Israel/Zionism issue provoked student demonstrations and direct action, not even at the height of the Lebanese War in 1982. Students in the past have been deterred by the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’. But when people see children burnt alive by phosphorous bombs, when their schools and clinics and doctors homes are attack by the barbarians of the Israeli state, then no amount of ‘anti-Semitism’ charges will wash.

Unsurprisingly the misnamed Jewish Society at the University of Sussex has complained to the Vice-Chancellor about the ‘anti-Semitism’ of the occupiers. It’s strange really. I have just come from the occupation, having handed over £100 from Brighton & Hove Unemployed Workers Centre. They knew I was Jewish and yet I felt no fear at all. Why was that? Why do other Jewish opponents of Zionism feel no such feelings? As someone who is a prime fascist target in this country and having achieved first place on the south coast page of the neo-Nazi Redwatch site I am well aware of what real anti-Semitism is. And solidarity with Gaza ain't it!

The truth is that the ‘anti-Semitism’ card is past its sell by date and if it weren’t for the antics of Gilad Atzmon and his devoted groupie, Mary Rizzo, then it would be of even less utility to the Zionists.

Naturally the National Union of Students, which has long been captured for the Zionist UJS and which is the kindergarten for aspiring racists and New Labour politicians has done nothing to support the occupations.

I found it particularly amazing that King's College, London's oldest and most conservative college, a bastion of the right-wing in NUS, has gone into occupation. This is the answer to the bleating about 'anti-semitism' by UJS, which has never once supported direct mobilisations against the fascist BNP or National Front. Not surprisingly since the BNP has, according to the Board of Deputies spokesperson, Ruth Smeed, the most pro-Zionist web site of all.

Below is a link to just one of a number of BNP articles on Gaza. The BNP are, it would seem, worried about anti-semitic attacks on Jews because of the bombing of Gaza!! You couldn't make it up.

See the Guardian's Protests over Gaza spread to eight English universities
LSE director Howard Davies issues joint statement with demonstrators

As student protests over the bombing of Gaza spread to eight universities across England today, the director of the London School of Economics, Sir Howard Davies, issued a joint statement with student protesters saying he understood their concerns and backing a fundraising drive for scholarships for Palestinians.
LSE protesters ended their week-long occupation of the institution's Old Theatre peacefully last night, after Davies, former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, agreed to meet some of their demands.
But he refused to issue an official university statement condemning the Israeli bombardment of Gaza or to publish regular financial statements spelling out LSE's investment in companies involved in supplying arms to Palestine and Israel.
The LSE will waive scholarship application fees for
students affected by the conflict, help students organise a fundraising day, and donate surplus computers and books to institutions in Gaza.
The joint statement quoted Davies as saying: "I well understand the concerns felt by many students about the events in Gaza. It is painful to observe the suffering of the civilian population. Like Professor [Rick] Trainor of Universities UK, who speaks for the sector as a whole, I supported calls for an end to the conflict. As he has said, many of the casualties have occurred in educational establishments. Wherever in the world scholars or their institutions are threatened, or their lives are disrupted by conflict, I believe all parties should respect the integrity of scholarship and intellectual and academic freedom, and should work to minimise suffering".
The agreement with students includes establishing a working party to look at socially responsible investments that will be "content to receive" proposals about disinvestment from companies implicated in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
Michael Deas, a third-year environmental policy student involved in the occupation, said: "We're delighted with the result, although nothing we could have done would ever have been enough. It's a real victory for student activism, particularly forcing the director into making a statement.
"We would encourage other students to take this sort of action and have the confidence to do so."
More than 80 students at Oxford occupied part of the historic Bodleian building today to demand that the university release a statement condemning the attack on Gaza, and cancel a lecture series at Balliol College inaugurated by Shimon Peres, the president of Israel.
At Warwick, students started an occupation last night demanding the university sever links with companies supplying equipment used in the conflict.
At King's College London, students have demanded the cancellation of an honorary degree for Peres, a demand rejected by the university. Trainor, the vice-chancellor of King's and president of the vice-chancellors' umbrella group, Universities UK, has said: "UUK supports calls for an end to the conflict in and beyond Gaza. We are particularly aware that many of the civilian casualties have occurred in educational establishments.
"The UK's universities are resolutely committed to the right to education, enshrined in the UN universal declaration of human rights. Higher education, in particular, is a global activity and we value our academic links with universities all over the world.
"The international nature of higher education means it is a force for understanding, tolerance and respect between peoples."
Students have also protested at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Birmingham, Essex and Sussex.
Simon Englert, a student at the
University of Sussex, said: "The atmosphere is very good, and everybody there is absolutely committed to what we're doing.
"Lots of different political stances are represented in the room. It has been a very good and interesting exercise, building a united front and agreeing on tactics.
"There has been a very uncomfortable silence in general about what's happened and is happening in Gaza. We feel there should be concrete action, and the university making a statement would be symbolic and strong."

For news of the occupations see the links below.


saravanakumar said...

Great list. Thanks you very much
They very useful for me ! Keep up the good work
Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,
I am from the warwick occupation.
could you please get in touch with me?
my email address is:

kourosh . newmanzand [at] gmail . com