This article is from the students news paper (student direct)
I am writing because I was saddened by the tone of the front page article in the last Student Direct of the Autumn Semester (4/12/06, ‘Tensions Flare At Palestine Demonstration’). The stunt on the 29th November was planned in order to raise awareness of the daily humiliation experienced by Palestinian students living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Many have to travel through multiple checkpoints in order to get to campus, often being detained or turned away by IDF soldiers in completely arbitrary decisions about their right to travel. The effect of the Occupation has a profound effect on students in Palestine with many of them having to resit semesters and restarting entire years due to the Israel policy of periodically declaring towns and cities ‘off limits’. Students aren’t just affected by missed class time, however. They find it hard to get the resources necessary to complete their degrees and often suffer from lack of even basic textbooks. On top of this, the IDF often target Universities as centres of resistance, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage on one of their many punitive raids.
Action Palestine believes that education is a fundamental human right and that this right is being denied in Palestine by the IDF Occupiers. This, however, is only one of the many illegal actions that Israel has taken in the West Bank. Their Apartheid Wall (or ‘Seperation Fence’ as Israel calls it) is completely illegal and they have been ordered to halts its construction by various international justice bodies. The Wall separates Palestinians from their jobs, their schools and their families and simply constitutes a land grab by Israel in contravention to over 70 Security Council Resolutions. The symbolic importance of the Wall is the reason why we chose to use a mock up of it in our stunt.
The stunt on the 29th November coincided with the United Nation’s Day of Solidarity with Palestine. The demonstration was peaceful and sought only to highlight a fraction of the humiliation that Palestinians suffer daily. Unfortunately, certain students within our University reacted with venom to our criticism of Israel’s Occupation. The intimidation that members of Action Palestine suffered at their hands is completely unacceptable. Many of us were labelled terrorists, something that has a far more malicious meaning to some of our activists actually from Palestine. The highly organised and spiteful opposition that we suffered was, sadly, only the most recent personification of the pro-apartheid Israeli lobby on campus that wilfully tries to deceive students about the very real injustices that are occurring in Palestine. It is partly as a result of their lies that we have such a mountain to climb when it comes to building support for the rights of our fellow Palestinian Students.
I would urge all of you with a sense of justice to get involved with our campaign to defend the human rights of the people of Palestine, who have so often been forgotten and betrayed by our own Government. No person should have to suffer the humiliation and oppression that is heaped on them every single day and it is only with a concerted effort that we, here at Manchester University, can change that. Student activists in Britain were important in defeating apartheid in South Africa (despite vociferous opposition from racist groups) and we can achieve a similar victory over apartheid in Palestine if everyone gets involved. Please come to our meeting on the 5th February at 6.00pm in the Students Union with Israeli Arab Jamila Asleh to learn more.
ActionPalestine Committee Member