Thursday, 28 May 2009
Starting at: 12 o'clock-midday, Sunday 14th June
Meeting place & starting from: The Cafe Project, 22 Jesus Lane
100+ sponsored cyclists will together travel 3600km - the distance from Cambridge to Gaza – raising money to build empowering educational projects working with local NGOs in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.
For more information visit:
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
the University of East London (UEL) was supposed to host analternative summit on April 1st in the context of the upcoming G20 meeting on April 2nd. Following the media and police hype about possible disruptions to the city, the University withdrew its support for the alternative summit.
Subsequently, management of the University decided to close down the university all together on April the 1st and 2nd, cancelling lectures and closing the library, effectively trying to turn the university into a wasteland in the very moment when the university should instead be up to the task of hosting critical debate and be a hub of creative energies.
As the text of the petition makes clear, this is not just about UEL,but about reclaiming universities and education in these times of crisis.
PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY -- PLEASE SIGN URGENTLY.
Open UEL Now collective
Friday, 27 March 2009
We held a vigil in Cambridge on the 19th March outside the Guildhall, in solidarity with Tristan Anderson, who has been seriously injured by Israeli military forces during a non-violent protest against the 'separation' wall. It was also to show solidarity with the Palestinian people who experience daily brutality and oppression at the hands of the Israeli military, and many of whose deaths go unreported and uncontested. Tristan is currently in critical condition in hospital having been shot in the head with a tear gas canister.
Tristan is the good friend of a Cambridge student, who took part in our recent occupation at the University Law Faculty, and who regularly demonstrates peacefully alongside Palestinian people in West Bank villages, against the 'separation' wall, the confiscation of Palestinian land, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the oppression of Palestinian people. We seek to show our support to Tristan and to the people of Palestine for whom this violence is a commonplace reality of life under occupation.
Our vigil was covered in the Cambridge News here: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=401488
5. Support for students
Item 4 of the Green Party Core Values states: "Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing these methods do not conflict with our other core principles."
In this spirit, and in recognition of the value of Non-Violent Direct Action, conference pledges its support to the students occupying University buildings across the country, and fully endorses their campaign to demand that universities divest both from the arms trade and other organisations which directly or indirectly have financially contributed to the military and economic oppression of the people of Gaza. Furthermore, conference condemns any universities taking disciplinary action against the occupying students who are exercising their right to protest; these students, as stakeholders in their University, have a valid right to demand that their university is investing funds ethically.
Conference thus calls for the following action to be taken: International committee and the International Coordinator to pledge support for the student campaign, and also to back our (Green) MEPs' call for an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza, in particular in light of recent revelations in the press about Israeli actions in Gaza.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
There is devastation in Gaza. Palestine remains blockaded and occupied. Rockets fire into Sderot and Ashkelon. We have born witness to years of conflict in Palestine and Israel. This country has played and continues to play it’s part in the story. This debate asks what we - as students and academics at UK universities and as UK residents - should be doing?
What is the right way forward? How, if at all, should we try to influence this process?
Four speakers will present their perspectives on what should be done, and on what we can and should do:
Betty Hunter— Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Jonathan Hoffman—Zionist Federation
David Massey—Anarchists Against the Wall
Dan Judelson—Jews for Justice for Palestinians Betty Hunter will open the debate, presenting the case for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Each speaker will make their case for 10 minutes and then the floor will be open for your questions.
These are important and sensitive issues, all are welcome, please inform friends and colleagues and please join us.
If you are a student, please bring uni ID. If you are not a university student then please contact Beccy at
Occupations at Manchester Metropolitan and Nottingham have been forcibly closed down. Recently, occupiers at New York University presented a wide range of demands centred around Palestine, the marketisation of education, and working conditions within the university. Security forces responded with pepper spray and batons.
University bureaucrats parrot the same line: protests have disrupted learning, and therefore the use of force has been a legitimate response to such action. Yet we state again: the occupied spaces have been educational spaces. They have seen debates, talks, and film showings, deepening students' understanding of the political situation in the Middle East. High profile speakers have included Prof. Priyamvada Gopal and Vandana Shiva; messages of support have been received from Prof. Noam Chomsky and Dr. Norman Finkelstein. Education is not confined to academia. Nor should it be.
Despite assurances of amnesty, students in Sheffield Hallam now face suspension. Eighteen NYU student negotiators exited their occupation only to be served with papers detailing their expulsion. The hypocrisy of the NYU administration is shocking: whilst protesters were beaten by security forces, the university continued to reassert its commitment to “a culture of openness, opportunity, and tolerance that allows all members of the community to thrive.”
A university bureaucracy that attempts to silence or ignore student protest should ask itself why, if universities are dealing adequately with student concerns, students are compelled to take direct action at considerable personal risk. It is not enough to demand academic ‘business as usual’ when these institutions are failing students and academics alike. Universities are in a position to promote awareness and change, and yet continue to use their vast resources to justify humanitarian apathy.
The occupied spaces have seen students participating in democratic processes that far surpass the official forums open to students within universities. They have seen mass meetings and debates, in contrast to the closed-doors negotiations and coercion favoured by the institutions. Universities are denying students the right to establish forums for open debate and constructive criticism, despite their educational responsibilities and commitment to intellectual freedom.
The current wave of protest has exposed many institutions for what they truly are; students have witnessed a dangerously dismissive attitude towards the opinions of the student body, and, most disturbingly, the thoroughly undemocratic nature of modern educational establishments.
We reaffirm our admiration and solidarity with all those who have faced victimisation while engaging in peaceful protests, and encourage others to speak out against universities that treat their own students with such disgraceful disrespect.
-Cambridge Gaza Solidarity
Sunday, 15 February 2009
CAMBRIDGE GAZA SOLIDARITY – OPEN MEETING
THURSDAY 19th FEBRUARY
7.45 – 9.45pm
LATIMER ROOM, CLARE COLLEGE, OLD COURT
You saw/read/heard about the Law Faculty occupation a few weeks ago.
This is your opportunity to find out more about this important campaign to advance education in, and dialogue with, Gaza, reaching far beyond the Law Faculty. The meeting will involve discussion around the future direction and campaigns of Cambridge Gaza Solidarity and the wider national student movement.
Find out what has been happening since the student occupation finished,
This IS a student issue.
We want to hear from YOU.
Dr Christina Devecchi – on ‘What is Education For, Then?’
Prof. Priyamvada Gopal – on ‘Student and Academic Responsibility’
Franck Magennis – Student Activist, LSE, on the national movement
PLUS speakers from Cambridge Gaza Solidarity
FOLLOWED BY an open discussion on our actions as students to aid those in Gaza and the future direction of Cambridge Gaza Solidarity.
Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=51742306737&ref=mf
Saturday, 14 February 2009
A new wave of student activism sparked by events in Gaza has seen dozens of university buildings occupied in Britain, with some of the UK's top educational establishments agreeing to set up scholarships for Palestinians or disinvest in arms companies linked to Israel.
Though the assault on the territory ended three weeks ago, lingering anger over the attack has prompted students to stage sit-ins at 21 universities, many organised via blogs, Facebook and text messages.
Students at Glasgow and Manchester are refusing to leave the buildings until their demands are met, after similar occupations at other universities provided tangible results in what is being seen as a new era of highly organised student activism.
Katan Alder, 22, one of 50 Manchester University protesters who have occupied a university building for nine days, said students were abandoning diplomatic tactics in favour of direct action.
"There is a new level of anger among students that we haven't seen before," he said. "There is definitely a new confidence among students who are beginning to realise that if they want to achieve anything simple negotiation won't work, our actions have to escalate."
Students at Goldsmiths, University of London, ended their occupation yesterday after their demand - two scholarships for students from Palestine's al-Quds university - was met. The students campaigned for a year without success, but their demands were met within 24 hours after they occupied Deptford town hall, which houses the university management offices, said James Heywood, 21.
"We were getting ignored and patronised, so when we saw what was happening at other universities we took direct action," he said.
Technology has played an integral part in the protests. Within minutes of starting the occupation students at Goldsmiths were blogging, and a recent protest that gathered 2,000 students was organised almost entirely by viral text messaging, said Heywood.
Student demands include a call to end all investments in arms companies that may trade with Israel, scholarships for Palestinian students and humanitarian assistance.
At King's College London, students gained scholarships and donations to institutions in Palestine.
A seven-day Cambridge University occupation, which saw students denied access to food before being threatened with a court injunction on 1 February, achieved little in the way of concessions.
But last week 60 academics at the university sent an open letter to the vice-chancellor deploring the "heavy-handed" tactics used to crush the protest and supporting the students' calls for disinvestment from the arms industry and scholarships for Palestinian students.
Prof Priyamvada Gopal, one of its signatories, said: "It was only when the students became galvanised that we looked at writing a group letter from the academics following the lead of the students."
She believes the movement is the first signs of a new political awareness. "As yet this is a small but vocal minority, but I think we are seeing an emergence from the froth and apathy of the 1990s."
Thursday, 12 February 2009
A group of sixty academics from Cambridge University have spoken out in dismay at the university’s handling of a peaceful protest in which more than one hundred students occupied the Law Faculty in solidarity with people suffering in the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
Over the course of the six-day sit-in, the University threatened matriculation sanctions and legal action. It also endeavoured to prevent any food being brought into the building for the occupiers.
In a letter to Vice Chancellor Alison Richard, academics express their support for the “initiative taken by Cambridge University students in asking this University to respond to the recent humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza”. They call the occupation “a peaceful, dignified and humanitarian show of constructive solidarity with suffering civilians, particularly their fellow students in Palestine” and say the students have attempted to “take humanitarian and educational principles beyond the classroom” in a commendable display of the “interrogative and transformative attitude” that they are encouraged to develop through their studies at university.
February 6, 2009
Dear Professor Richard,
We are writing to express our continued support for the initiative taken by Cambridge University students in asking this University to respond to the recent humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, Palestine and to contribute to the reconstruction of the educational infrastructure there. Their ‘occupation’ at the Law Faculty was a peaceful, dignified and humanitarian show of constructive solidarity with suffering civilians, particularly their fellow students in Palestine. As their teachers, we are proud that Cambridge students demonstrated what your own representatives described as 'moral courage' in the face of some personal risk.
We must, therefore, express our profound disquiet at the measures employed by the administration to bring a forcible end to their action. It does not befit an institution of this standing to deploy tactics such as food deprivation and threatening matriculation sanctions and legal action. We are heartened that so many of our academic colleagues came out in support of the students. They appreciate that a clear distinction is to be made between criminal activity and the exercise of the right to non-violent protest; we must insist that University and college administrators recognise this difference.
We are, further, dismayed that the administration failed to negotiate substantially with the students' well-articulated demands, particularly given the far more constructive recent responses from institutions such as the University of Sussex and King’s College London. These have included offers of material support to educational institutions in Palestine, such as books, laptops and scholarships. (We note that similar scholarships were created in Cambridge for students from countries such as apartheid South Africa, and continue to be offered). Such constructive actions will help raise a generation of Palestinians who can use their education towards bringing about an end to the cycle of violence in that region. Our university can make no more enlightened or humanitarian contribution to the appalling suffering created by this conflict.
We also strongly agree that an educational institution should not be involved with or benefit from the arms trade which has brought so much suffering around the world, and therefore support students' calls for disinvestment from this industry. We insist on greater transparency and accountability in the University's investments and urge you to move this institution towards a federally binding and meaningful ethical investment policy.
As teachers, we strive to foster in our students an interrogative and transformative attitude towards the world. The Gaza initiatives have attempted to take humanitarian and educational principles beyond the classroom. These students, whose brightness we value and whom we rightly regard as the leaders of the future, should not be treated as naive children when their initiatives do not suit our own political positions or administrative convenience. It is our hope that in dealing with these and all students who challenge the status quo in manifest pursuit of justice and intellectual freedom, the administration will engage more seriously and respectfully than it has during this episode.
We believe that intellectual communities have a responsibility to lead humane debate and global transformation and are, therefore, concerned that democratic civic discourse has been seriously undermined by the University's refusal to engage in meaningful dialogue with its own students.
We urge the administration to look on this episode as an opportunity to remind itself and the university community of its fundamental organizing principles which, according to its own mission statement, include a mandate ‘to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence’. Our students have sought to remind us of a point of principled self-interest: our university – once the nursery of Milton, Darwin and Newton – must strive vigorously and indefatigably to defend the exercise of intellectual freedom wherever it is being threatened. Should we fail our students in this, we will fail ourselves much more grievously, for we risk not merely complacency, not simply complicity, but the careless oblivion of our own cherished, animating ideals. It is surely time to make real our commitment to Cambridge University’s stated ‘core values’ and ‘educational aspirations’: 'freedom of thought and expression and freedom from discrimination' and 'the encouragement of a questioning spirit.'
Dr Maha Abdelrahman, Development Studies Committee
Dr Lori Allen, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Dr Houshang Ardavan, Institute of Astronomy and Murray Edwards College
Dr Tarak Barkawi, POLIS
Dr Barbara Bodenhorn, Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology and Pembroke College
Dr Christopher Burlinson, Faculty of English and Jesus College
Dr Alison Carrol, Murray Edwards College
Mr Tim Cribb, Churchill College
Dr David Clifford, Faculty of English and Homerton College
Dr Devon Curtis, POLIS and Emmanuel College
Dr Susan Daruvala, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Trinity College
Dr Greg Davis, Department of Experimental Psychology and Murray Edwards College
Dr Anuj Dawar, Computer Laboratory and Robinson College
Dr Cristina Devecchi, Homerton College
Dr Richard Drayton, Faculty of History and Corpus Christi College
Dr Paola Filippucci, Murray Edwards College
Dr Sinead Garrigan-Mattar, Faculty of English and Girton College
Professor Heather Glen, Faculty of English and Murray Edwards College
Dr Priyamvada Gopal, Faculty of English and Churchill College
Dr Mina Gorji, Faculty of English
Dr John Harvey, Faculty of English and Emmanuel College
Dr Ed Holberton, Faculty of English and St John’s College
Dr Michael Hrebeniak, Faculty of English and Wolfson College
Dr Khaled Hroub, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Dr Humeira Iqtidar, Centre of South Asian Studies and King's College
Dr Matthew Jones, Judge Business School
Dr Makram Khoury-Machool, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Dr Eivind Kahrs, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Queens’ College
Dr Kate Kenny, Judge Business School
Dr Mary Laven, Faculty of History and Jesus College
Dr Sian Lazar, Department of Social Anthropology
Dr Marta de Magalhães, Centre of Latin American Studies and Wolfson College
Dr Robert MacFarlane, Faculty of English and Emmanuel College
Dr Leo Mellor, Faculty of English and Murray Edwards College
Dr Rod Mengham, Faculty of English and Jesus College
Dr Subha Mukherji, Faculty of English
Dr Kamal Munir, Judge Business School
Dr Pervaiz Nazir, POLIS
Dr Fred Parker, Faculty of English and Clare College
Dr Neil Pattison, Faculty of English and St John’s College
Dr Ian Patterson, Faculty of English and Queens’ College
Dr Evaleila Pesaran, Murray Edwards College
Professor Hashem Pesaran, Faculty of Economics and Trinity College
Professor Christopher Prendergast, King’s College
Mr. J. H. Prynne, Gonville and Caius College
Dr Alastair Reid, Faculty of History and Girton College
Dr Jason Scott-Warren, Faculty of English and Gonville and Caius College
Dr David Sneath, Department of Social Anthropology and Corpus Christi College
Dr Gagan Sood, Faculty of History and Wolfson College
Mrs Elsa Strietman, Department of German and Dutch, Murray Edwards College
Dr Julia Swindells, Faculty of English and Anglia Ruskin University
Dr Vincenzo Vergiani, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Wolfson College
Dr Christopher Warnes, Faculty of English and St John's College
Dr Lee Wilson, CRASSH
Dr Nicolette Zeeman, Faculty of English and King’s College
Andrew Zurcher, Faculty of English and Queens' College
Dr David Hillman, Faculty of English and King’s College
Professor Angela Leighton, Faculty of English and Trinity College
Dr Robin Boast, Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology
Dr Leo Mellor, Faculty of English and Murray Edwards College
If you are an academic and would like to add your name to this letter, then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Monday, 2 February 2009
Cambridge Gaza Solidarity continues to assert that the situation in Gaza is critical, and demands immediate attention. As is evident in the University's open letter, they are unwilling to commit substantially to the educational rebuilding of Gaza and will not extend humanitarian aid to Gaza through a donation to a charitable organisation such as the DEC or UNWRA Gaza Appeals. Perhaps even more contentiously Cambridge University is clearly not willing to make better provision for ethical investment or end its direct and indirect investment in the arms trade.
For all these reasons Cambridge Gaza Solidarity believes that we need to continue campaigning to see positive benefits reach Gaza and its people on the ground. We thus move forward with a refocused set of goals (see the appropriate link to the right), and are currently organising a programme of events, talks and debates on the Israel/Palestine question and the current situation in Gaza, and will be fundraising for humanitarian aid to Gaza in the immediate future.
Stay posted to this site for new developments, information on our activities and dates for events and happenings. We hope that you will get involved with us and help make a positive difference in the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
-The Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Campaign
Sunday, 1 February 2009
On Monday the Cambridge Palestinian Society are holding a debate: One-State Solution VS. Two-State Solution". The speakers are Prof Ilan Pappe, a professor of history at the University of Exeter and Prof. Yezid Sayigh, a professor at Kings College London who worked as a negotiator for the Palestinian Authority. Each will give their opinions, respond, and then open up discussion to the floor. See http://cu-palestinesociety.blogspot.com/2009/01/soon-one-state-solution-vs-two-state.html for event details.
And a message from Vito Laterza:
"We would like to revive the Autonomous Study reading group, as a place for reading and discussing radical literature and ideas. The reading group might also extend to include multimedia and other less 'literary' activities. We are meeting Monday 2th February at 7pm at the Clowns Cafe, 54 King Street to discuss the technicalities, how we want to organise the group, future times, venues, schedules, reading etc. Everybody welcome!
If you get lost or want to get in touch, please call Vito 07837814078
or Umut 07807010802"
On a separate note: we'll hope to move this blog to its own website soon, and continue to post events related to Gaza and activism. So please keep checking.
Saturday, 31 January 2009
Friday, 30 January 2009
This is apparently in the interest of transparency and accountability, yet they failed to disclose a rather important fact: the "open letter" posted on their website" is not the same open letter as that which they presented to us on the third day of the occupation.
The open letter posted on the University website was the letter which was amended with the concessions granted over several days of negotiations. The University did not give as much as it should have, or as much as it could, but it should not claim that the little that we won from them over hours of intense negotiations was offered freely before negotiations commenced.
Significantly, the post is located in the "International" section of the CU website, apparently not recognising the tension between the University's refusal to take any concrete steps towards helping Palestinians through scholarships, humanitarian aid and donation of academic materials and their stated committment to the "international community".
EDM 626 STUDENT OCCUPATIONS 28.01.2009 McDonnell, John 2 signatures
That this House praises the wave of student occupations across the country against Israel's unlawful invasion and bombing of Gaza; regrets that an estimated thousand Palestinians have been killed as a direct result of the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza with many more people injured and suffering ongoing hardship; and welcomes the engagement of young people in protesting against the unfolding human tragedy in Gaza by taking direct action at numerous institutions including Cambridge University, Essex University, Kings College London, Manchester Metropolitan University, Oxford University, Queen Mary University London and Sussex University.
Office of Jeremy Corbyn MP
Thursday, 29 January 2009
This is a statement from Cambridge Gaza Solidarity. We left the Law Faculty today at 11 a.m. with more than we came in with, but with considerably less than this cause deserves.
The threat of legal procedings and heavy-handed intimidation by the University authorities undermined what was a peaceful demonstration for an important humanitarian crisis.
When we occupied the Law Faculty we demanded that the University provide academic and humanitarian aid to help rebuild educational institutions in Gaza. We also demanded scholarships for Palestinian students. These reasonable demands have been rejected by Cambridge University despite their being granted by other UK universities. We note the willingness of these universities to engage in meaningful dialogue with their students, and we unreservedly condemn Cambridge University’s lack of moral courage!
Throughout the week we have been eager to enter into meaningful negotiations but have been continually frustrated by the intransigence of the university. Their offers (to be published soon) were inadequate considering the scale of the crisis we have attempted to aid. They have dragged the name of Cambridge University through the mud in their attempt to discredit a peaceful protest for a humanitarian cause.
We came here in solidarity with the people of Gaza who are still under occupation. Gaza is still the issue. This occupation was never an end in itself but the beginning of an active movement. Nationally these occupations have galvanized significant numbers of students and non-students who feel that their institutions have failed them – and failed the people of Gaza.
Thank you so much to all who have supported us. We invite everyone to a public meeting on Saturday to discuss how to take this campaign forward in Cambridge (time and place to be confirmed).
We did not fail. We were failed.
-Cambridge Gaza Solidarity
I am writing as a senior member of the University (King’s 1973) to express my disquiet at the intolerance which the University authorities appear to be showing towards a group of students peacefully protesting against the invasion of Gaza and occupying some parts of the Law Faculty Building. I have always been proud of the fact that Cambridge University has consistently stood up for the rights of its members to express their beliefs peacefully, to engage in debate and to be allowed to use their privileged status in the world to speak up on behalf of the less-privileged. I have this evening read on-line of apparently spiteful and clearly heavy-handed harassment of these young women and men, who should really rather be applauded and encouraged in their non-violent witness. There is a long and valuable tradition of student protest in Cambridge, and I am proud to have been able to engage in similar activities when I was an undergraduate, and that my daughter did in her turn when she was an undergraduate of the University. I would be grateful if you would take my view into consideration and convey it to the Proctors who are responsible.
Dr Richard Wistreich
Campaign. The campaign is a much needed action to keep the spotlight on the
dire situation in Gaza and the plight of the Palestinian people in general.
The students organizing the campaign have taken a very courageous
initiative along with fellow students all over the country. I urge the
university to listen sympathetically to their demands.
Lecturer Development Studies
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
A group from the occupation left the building at 7 o’clock to go to a CUSU meeting which was due to discuss support for our protest. Immediately after they departed, the Registrary sent a letter informing us that no one who had left would be able to re-enter the building and threatening legal action against us. This included an ultimatum to leave the building within half an hour. Shorty after 9pm, the Proctors arrived to take our names (again) and took photos of us. While complying with their requests we found them throwing away the food that our catering group had prepared.
We members of the Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Occupation condemn unreservedly the disgraceful and intimidating behaviour displayed by the university authorities. This is a wholly unacceptable way for an institute of education to behave towards its own members engaged in a peaceful protest.
Throughout our occupation, the authorities have treated us with contempt and disrespect, despite our friendly working relationship with many security staff and our general goodwill.
A university which engages in intimidation without genuine dialogue is not worthy of the name. Cambridge University claims to be stand for values of freedom of expression, and these worrying actions prove this claim false and set a dangerous precedent for future student activists. We must fight against this trend of intimidation, and urge messages of protest to be sent to email@example.com.
To all person participating in the Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Occupation ("The Occupation") at the Faculty of Law, 10 West Rd, Cambridge, CB3 9BZ, ("The Premises")
The Chancellor, Master and Scholars of the University of Cambridge ("the University") are the freehold owners and are entitled to possession, of the Premises.
On behalf of the University, I hereby give you notice that you are required to leave the Premises by 7.30 this evening. Once you have left the Premises, you will not be permitted to re-enter them. Any person on the Premises after 7.30pm this evening for the purpose of participating in the Occupation will be committing a trespass and the University expressly reserves its entitlement to enforce its legal rights against such persons without further notice. Please note that security staff will be instructed from 9pm today to prevent persons from entering the Premises who do not have a lawful reason connected with the activities and business of the Faculty of Law for doing so and a valid University card.
- That the university issue a statement on the situation which condemns Israel's action in Gaza.
As a concrete realisation of this, we are pushing for the university to sign up to the 'Universities UK' statement condemning the destruction of the educational institutions in
- That the university provide academic aid to universities in Gaza
We are researching transport options for donations of equipment from the departments and colleges, and asking for monetary aid to be sent directly to academic institutions in Gaza. This is consistent with the university's status as an educational charity.
We are asking for a day of fundraising facilitated by the university, raising funds for the DEC and Interpal.
Scholarships solely for Palestinians do not pose a major problem of discrimination; there are already in existence similar country or region specific funds, for example, a fund exists for students from South Africa.
- That the university and its colleges disinvest from the arms trade.
This is an ongoing and well-established CUSU campaign.
- That no student will face punishment or repercussions, legal or otherwise, for participating in this demonstration.
Official CUSU policy recognises occupation as a legitimate form of protest.
This action was necessitated by the complete silence from the university on previous attempts to engage with these issues through more conventional channels, including CUSU, and similar actions at other UK universities have shown that this can produce results. We have support from a wide range of academics, staff and students, and others including David Howarth, MP for Cambridge.
We would greatly appreciate it if you would ask your representatives (JCR presidents and external secretaries) to vote in favour of the occupation of the law faculty by Cambridge Gaza Solidarity at the CUSU council meeting tonight.
I would like to express my support for the action of the Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Occupation in attempting to increase public awareness of the plight of civilians caught up in the conflict in Gaza.
The peaceful expression of political opinions is an important social value. I have been especially impressed by the way in which the members of the group have tried to draw attention in a constructive way to an important political issue while at the same time permitting the unhindered operation of the university.
Tim Cribb (English Faculty) also shows his support for the campaign, most especially our hopes for a Palestinian scholarship programme.
Cambridge Gaza Solidarity is disappointed to report that efforts to go through official channels of communication with Law students have been refused by the Faculty.
We would like to ask all Law students to feedback to us. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
We are having a meeting at 17:30 today in LG17 – Please do all come.
When I think of all the blood that has been shed, on both sides, over that tiny piece of land, all I can do is hope that eventually, Israel and Palestine will find some way of sharing it. But it doesn’t seem enough to just hope. To question, seek to inform ourselves but, ultimately, to do whatever it takes to have our voices heard: this does not seem like something that needs any qualifications. Violence and destruction seems reprehensible: abandoning apathy and being politically active in response to it does not. If a period of more open and inclusive dialogue and debate on this issue is opened up by what we’ve done, it will have been worth it. My friends and family in Israel often say that outsiders aren’t in a position to comment. Personally, I think Israel and Palestine are going to need some help resolving this.
Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 10:24 PM, QM Occupation
I'm emailing from Queen Mary University of London. As of about half past nine this evening we started an occupation in solidarity of Gaza. Any support, advice, recommendations would be much appreciated. Here is a link to our blog http://queenmaryoccupation.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Below is the message that she and Christopher Warnes sent to the Vice-Chancellor:
Dear Professor Richard
We are writing to express our support for the initiative recently taken by Cambridge University students in support of the people of Gaza. We understand that right now negotiations are taking place between representatives of the university and the students concerning proposals for how this university can respond to the catastrophe in Gaza.
We do not believe there is a substantial conflict of interest between the university, its staff and the students on these matters. These students are showing motivation, drive, commitment, perseverance, and principle in abundance - exactly the qualities we as teachers value most in our students. We would thus urge you and your negotiating team to respond sympathetically to the student proposals.
Faculty of English and St John's College
Faculty of English and Churchill College
Dr Richard Drayton
Faculty of History University of Cambridge
Rhodes Professor of Imperial History- electKings College London:
I am in the United States for the term and will only be very briefly in Cambridge here and there. But I do want, for what it is worth, to send you a message of support. What has taken place in Gaza over the last two months is an act of collective punishment of a civilian population which is precisely equivalent to what Nazi Germany did to towns and cities like Lidice and Oradour in the Second World War in response to an armed resistance to its occupations, respectively, of Czechoslovakia and France. Such acts of collective punishment are themselves war crimes of the first order. The attack on Gaza's people also involved many other abuses of the norms of civilized warfare (if we accept the possibility of such a thing) including the destruction of hospitals, schools, farms, water and electricity plants, and involved the use of radioactive weapons ('depleted uranium', standardly used in modern heavy projectiles, is a euphemism for uranium which can have up to 50% of the radioactivity of 'normal uranium) and weapons such as white phosphorous. British corporations have provided weapons and technology which supported this assault, the British government has permitted their export, and cooperates extensively with the Israeli defence establishment, and British consumers are among the most important supporters of Israeli settler commercial agriculture. In this context, it is right and proper that British civil society take a stand that there cannot be business as usual, that we must take stock of these crimes against humanity, and do what we can to show that we stand on the side of human rights and justice. The student occupations in Cambridge, London, and Oxford represent exactly the kind of act of democratic public witness which universities should seek to protect.
I had no idea that you had instigated this show of solidarity with the
people of Gaza, & I'm so heartened to learn of it. Israel has created the
biggest concentration camp on earth. Its wholesale butchering of innocent
civilians in response to the undeniably idiotic & murderous provocations by
Hamas edges into genocide; the complicity of the West is thus a shame & an
Every bomb that fell on Gaza will have been branded by a US arms
manufacturer. It falls upon each of us to ensure that our personal actions
do not sustain this vast & mystificatory totalitarian network. And this
includes applying pressure within the University, in order to ensure
openness and accountability over its investments. For who otherwise will
help the maimed & the suffering inhabitants of this land? Certainly not the
louche billionaire racketeers who run the Arab League.
I am so grateful to you for making a stand - at no little personal risk. But
this is what is means to be fully alive.
In solidarity & with warmest wishes,
Fellow, Tutor & Director of Studies in English, Wolfson College, University
We've recieved this important message of appreciation and solidarity from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees. This is important news.
Monday, 26 January 2009
There is also a protest taking place tomorrow at Broadcasting House in London organised by the Stop the War Coalition. They too will need your support.
Thanks to Dan Judelson for passing this information on!
However, the Sussex occupiers are currently in an advanced stage of negotiations with University authorities and look set to achieve a succesful resolution and the granting of their demands in the immediate future.
The nearness of a resolution in Sussex reaffirms the power of collective student action, and we must congratulate our friends in Sussex who are perservering in harnessing that power to secure real results from Sussex University. We will continue to do the same at Cambridge and offer our continued support to Sussex!
'I just wanted to say keep up the good work in Cambridge for two reasons. Firstly because all we can do (especially in the light of the BBC and Sky decisions to ban the advert) to publicise the horrors is worth doing'.
She closes with the sentiment that:
'I have continued and unabated belief in the power and passion of the young of our country to change things and shake things up'.
Thank you for your support Janet!
1. That we are disrupting academic life.
2. That since bringing food into the Faculty constitutes a health and safety problem, we are forbidden to bring food to the Law Faculty.
3. That we are in breach of matriculation requirements in regards to the need to obey reasonable demands.
4. That there is concern about the presence of non-University members in the Faculty, and that the University now withdraws license for them to be here.
5. That the Senior and Junior Proctors will arrive at 2pm to take a new roll of people present. This roll is to be passed on to the colleges.
The Chairman was not ready to enter into dialogue with us about the statement. We particularly felt it was of pressing importance to address the second point of the statement – that we are forbidden from bringing food into the Faculty – as this seems an infringement on our right to protest peacefully and stands to compromise our wellbeing.
Furthermore, we have already provided the University with a list of names and feel there is no need to produce another such list. As a compromise, we have voted and decided that we will provide the University with a list of the colleges of those present.
We thus do not feel that this statement is a productive move forward in the negotiation process, and feel that the statement largely constitutes an intimidation tactic on the part of the University.
We can only repeat our call to enter into proper negotiations with the University.
Sunday, 25 January 2009
We have been occupying the Law Faculty since Friday evening, to protest against Israel’s recent actions in Gaza. We are demanding that the University issue a statement condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and the continuing blockade. We also demand aid to Palestinian universities in the form of scholarships, books and fundraising, as well as disinvestment from the arms trade complicit in this humanitarian disaster. See the rest of our blog for more information
Why aren’t you condemning Hamas? Is that not one-sided?
We have debated whether to call for a condemnation of Hamas in our demands, before deciding to focus on how best the University could alleviate the humanitarian crisis. Ultimately, this occupation was called purely in response to Israel’s recent actions in the Gaza Strip. It is not a question of supporting or opposing Hamas, or supporting or opposing Israel. It is a question of human rights on both sides. We do not condone the organised killing of civilians. Whatever your view of the last sixty years, we believe that the recent actions of the Israeli state are both disproportionate and counter-productive. They will not further the cause of peace, and have created immense suffering in the process. It is against this that we wish to protest.
Why aren’t you going through legitimate channels?
We tried at the very beginning of term. However our calls to CUSU to pass an urgent motion on this issue were blocked for bureaucratic reasons. We are still trying to pass a CUSU motion, and hope that CUSU as our representative will act urgently to support the people of Palestine. However, there is a deeper problem. As members of the University administration have admitted, the traditional channels for communication with the University move at glacial speeds. The campaign for arms trade disinvestment has been running for over a decade, without tangible results. We have held protest marches, collected thousands of signatures, held a huge ‘penny the Arch-chancellor’ campaign, and passed motions through CUSU. And yet in 2005 we were still the biggest academic investor in the arms trade in the UK. We will not wait ten years to help Gaza. We need action now.
What good is the occupation going to do?
There have been seventeen student demonstrations going on around the country. Five have finished, and every single one had some of their demands met. LSE granted many demands, among them the condemnation of Israeli attacks on Palestinian universities, a cross-campus fundraising day for Medical Aid for Palestinians, and for old books and computers to be sent to Palestinian universities. Essex funded scholarships for Palestinian students, among other concessions. Student demonstrations can and do work. We can disinvest from the arms trade, send aid to Palestine and get the University to condemn violence against educational institutions. With your support, we can make a difference.
We must confess we know few of the details of your occupation, it being so recent, and us being stuck inside ourselves.
However the details are irrelevant; be you few or many, planned or spontaneous, you have our complete solidarity.
Your bravery in taking this to the next level, occupying a building without even the slight protection of being on a university campus, and fighting the appalling stance of the BBC, has warmed our hearts and raised our spirits.
We wish you strength, luck and success in your occupation
Yours in solidarity
The Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Occupation
We have since entered into formal negotiations with a small delegation of officials from Cambridge University which includes the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, the Registrary, the Chairman of the Law Faculty and the Senior Proctor. We are pleased that the University agreed to begin the negotiation process on the weekend as we are keen to minimise disruption to University lectures.
The University authorities asked us to send three delegates with whom they would engage behind closed doors. However, the group felt that it was important for our principles of democratic representation to be maintained during negotiations with University authorities, and that all students who wished should be allowed to attend the negotiations in person.
As a compromise, we elected four delegates to act as spokespeople who were given a mandate to negotiate with University officials on behalf of our collective within a public forum, where everyone interested could be present. This would ensure accountability while allowing a focused and productive discussion. However, the University refused this proposition.
The delegation of University officials recognised us as “a large occupation”. Although the University delegates did not deny the need for an accountable forum, they felt that the presence of so many students (a full lecture hall) would be intimidating.
Dialogue continues through a formal written exchange. Once we receive an official statement from the University delegation we will discuss their proposals and vote on them through direct democracy. We now await their official statement in writing.
In response to AJs post, we're putting some ways that you can help even if you’re not able to come to the law faculty.
Most importantly, you can donate to the DEC, the Disaster Emergency Committee. They’re a collection of major aid organisations working to help the situation in
For first hand accounts of the situation in
Write to your MP asking them to express their support for the university occupations, and condemnation for
There are other demonstrations going on around the country. Support any ongoing occupations in other English universities, join the Stop the War Coalition for one of their upcoming marches, (http://globaldayofaction.org/stopwar/index.php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=5&id=82&Itemid=226 or start your own protest.
Those are a few ideas; there’s no shortage of websites, charities and demonstrations to join. If there are any major ones that we’ve missed out please post them in the comments.
The following is the current list of goals subcribed to by the Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Campaign, as derived from the original list of demands issued to Cambridge University at the beginning of the occupation of the Law Faculty:
- An organised Cambridge University and Colleges program of provision of academic aid, particularly books, computers and financial support to universities and educational institutions in Gaza.
- Development of a fundraising program for humanitarian aid in Gaza, as part of an ongoing Cambridge University and City commitment to financial support for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
- Developlment of a Cambridge University scholarship scheme for Palestinian students.
- Full disinvestment from the arms trade by Cambridge University and its Colleges, in cooperation with existing student lobbies and the Cambridge (and Colleges) Against the Arms Trade movement.
The occupation has ended, but the situation in Gaza is still critical. The Cambridge Gaza Solidarity Campaign has thus decided to continue our efforts to bring aid to Gaza, and the above list of goals constitutes the direction we will be taking in the immediate future and our new plan of action.
We will work to secure the academic aid and support for Gaza outlined in our goals through an organised campaign of fundraising, lobbying and events. We hope that Cambridge University, its Colleges and the City of Cambridge will partake in and support our campaign, but we are fully committed to achieving our goals through our own will and means, whether or not we receive institutional support.
On Saturday 24th January, Cambridge Gaza Solidarity were visited by four Israeli students who were interested in discussing our position with us. They put a question to us. What about the people of Sderot, and other Israelis who have come under fire from rockets over the last eight years? We want to make our position on this clear. We do not condone the killing of innocent civilians. We believe that peace can be achieved through open, equal and inclusive engagement, and that the power to initiate this is in the hands of Israelis. We hope that we can give you a little more confidence to build peace through engagement with your government, and with those suffering on the other side of the wall. We ask the same of the Palestinians, and one of the major benefits of our occupation has been the opportunity to come together as individuals from different backgrounds, and all learn from each other.
Note: The English version is a translation of the original Hebrew article.
Today has been busy: we had some independent Israelis come and present themselves to us, all being the standard Two Staters who blame Hamas for everything. This requires some badly synced renditions of the order of affairs (with Israel not breaking the ceasefire) and their refusal to address the fact that it was Salafist groups and other even-more-extremists like Islamic Jihad firing rockets during the ceasefire was rather grating, especially after it was pointed out. All the same, it was brave of them to come along (I'm not sure I'd have done the same if a group of pro-Israelis occupied a faculty) and if we aren't engaging with our opponents we will never get a proper opportunity to turn them into our allies.
After this there was a film from an Israeli left group named Anarchists Against the Wall, which covered the first time the IDF gunned down an Israeli, and we also had to endure the arduous necessity of a few lengthy meetings; but that's democracy for you.
Most memorably Cambridge institution Unheard Of was hosted, for the first and most probably only time hosted in the Law Faculty ground floor foyer. The standard of performances was superb, which was especially striking given that it also ran for far longer than usual.
A piece which I should have performed but didn't have the balls to was written by Shelina Janmohamed, who blogs at the award-winning Spirit 21 and also writes for Comment is Free. Since I shamefully failed to muster the courage, the best I can do is post it up here. Strangely enough this poem was written on December 30th, the same day as the identically topicked poem performed by Decca, Unheard Of's chief organiser. Without further ado:
Black Heart, Red Hands, Clear Smile
You ask for it, you are a tease,
I know your wish
For me to crack your jaw
To slap your face
To scratch your skin
To leave my mark.
You're pushing me,
Unlocking your wrists
"You have no right,"
Your words are hissed
Through broken teeth
"You have no right."
You make me laugh,
Cheap homeless witch
With talk of 'rights'.
Our friends know me,
My sovereign strength,
They know I'm right.
Who'd hear your words,
Our friends know what to say:
"Stop pushing, girl,
It's not his fault,
But sovereign defence."
Sit quietly in your corner,
I've closed the walls,
The Pharaohs are my friends.
The sea is sealed
You have no rights, no worth,
Admit you long for me.
You look at me with children's eyes,
You ask for it
You bare your mother's breast to me,
Still asking for it
Your hands of tormented youth push me away,
You drive me to it.
Can't you see, it's not my fault,
You invoke my suffering on you.
Can't you see, it's not my fault,
You attack, I defend.
Can't you see, it's not my fault,
You make me do it, you make me do it.