Why are you here?
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.