Above Photo: Apartheid Off Campus march for Palestine, May 15, 2021 (Twitter/AOC_movement)
University students across the UK are demanding immediate divestment from companies complicit in Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism as a part of Apartheid Off Campus’s national day of action.
On the 28th of May, university students across the country are gathering in unity with the Palestinian people to demand immediate divestment from companies complicit in Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism as a part of Apartheid Off Campus’s national day of action.
The recent forced expulsions in Sheik Jarrah, the brutal attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque and the ruthless bombing of Gaza have brought students together in grief, anger and deep solidarity with Palestine. As a result, protests will be taking place on campuses of UK universities that are complicit in these human rights violations. In total, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign database calculates UK universities to be investing £455,815,954 in companies that directly or indirectly assist the violent Israeli regime of dispossession and incremental genocide of the Palestinian people.
The events of the last few weeks has captured international attention, but the brutalisation of Palestinians in nothing new. Each time Israel has decided to “mow the lawn” and wage war on the captive people of Gaza, meting out death and destruction on a population who are mostly refugees, mostly children, the international community arises from its slumber only for as long as it takes for a cease-fire to be announced. Gazans are left alone to reconstruct some semblance of life and to continue to suffocate beneath an inhumane siege, until Israel’s next criminal assault.
It would be natural for the victims of this endless cycle of brutality, momentary global interest, and then neglect and amnesia, to grow cynical towards any claim that something might really be changing, that some decisive shift in public consciousness might truly be underway. But United Nations spokesperson Chris Gunness was correct when he described Gazans as possessing an “indomitable dignity” and Palestinians in the West Bank and within the Green Line have also shown time and again that they will never be docile in the face of apartheid and settler-colonialism.
The growing Unity Intifada represents the complete rejection of a defeatism which Israel, with each barbaric wave of massacre and ethnic cleansing, has endeavoured to instill in Palestinians. “The Dignity and Hope Manifesto” circulated widely across Palestine, and published in Mondoweiss, reflects their irrepressible will for life and liberation:
“This Intifada will be a long one in the streets of Palestine and in streets around the world; an intifada that fights the hand of injustice wherever it tries to reach, that fights the batons of cruel regimes wherever they try to strike.”
The question then falls to those of us living in the West, will we stand shoulder to shoulder with those courageous enough to resist their violent dispossession? Will our solidarity this time be unflagging, or will it evaporate in the next few weeks when Palestine no longer dominates news headlines?
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch and Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem both published exhaustive reports accusing Israel of subjecting Palestinians to an apartheid system. The 1973 Apartheid Convention defines apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them” and it is recognised as a crime against humanity under international law. For decades, Palestinians have been ringing the alarm against Israeli apartheid, and with Israel’s most recent act of criminal aggression in Gaza and East Jerusalem, a heightened awareness of Israel’s settler-colonialism appears to be blossoming in the UK – most especially among students.
As university students, we cannot allow the endorsement and material support of settler colonialism to continue. We have a moral obligation and duty to the Palestinian people to resist against the forces that profit from their oppression. Our dedication to justice and our anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, transnational solidarity means that we will use our collective voice to support the fight against Israeli apartheid and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
In 1971, the National Union of Students and the Anti-Apartheid Movement set up a network to co-ordinate student campaigns. Over the next decade, students at nearly every university and college in Britain organised anti-apartheid action, which included calling on these institutions to divest from South Africa. Students have, evidently, fought against apartheid through collective action & divestment campaigns in the past, and we, at Apartheid off Campus, wholeheartedly believe it can happen again. If universities say that they are committed to ‘decolonising’ themselves, then this is non-negotiable; this is the only the most basic, elementary action that can be taken, and any decolonisation which neglects it is performative. We hope you join us in linking arms with our Palestinian siblings and, once again, resisting apartheid in our institutions until Palestine is liberated.