Exeter University

Exeter University – Boycott motion

Passed by referendum October 2014

Motion

Students at the University of Exeter voted overwhelmingly to boycott illegal Israeli settlement products in what was the highest referendum turnout in the university’s history. 86% of the 1,040 students who voted on October 24 voted in favour of boycotting Israeli settlement products.

A spokesperson for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign said the landslide victory for boycott “is especially significant given the historically conservative nature of the university. The result demonstrates the growing momentum behind the BDS movement, in the United Kingdom and internationally.”

Exeter Students’ Guild is currently holding an investigation into whether or not the University of Exeter has purchased goods from the settlements. BDS campaigners say there are unconfirmed reports that the university stocked some fruit and vegetables from settlements, and that “this boycott also ensures that no new products will be ordered from the settlements.”

The boycott decision follows the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS campaigns against Israel, aimed at pressuring the Israeli Government to respect international law and human rights.

The action also aims to bring the University of Exeter in line with the National Union of Students and recent EU regulations relating to goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. World-renowned historian and University of Exeter Professor Ilan Pappé offered his praise for the campaign organisers. “I congratulate the group of students that ran the campaign,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”

A spike in BDS activity has occurred since mid-2014, when Israel launched its most recent attack on the Gaza Strip. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2,189 Palestinians were killed during the 50-day assault, including 513 children.

Marcel Golten of Exeter Defend Education said, “This vote reflects both the hard work of those campaigning in support of this referendum and also the importance of this issue to the student body. Exeter Defend Education recognises this as a concrete step towards a just peace in Palestine and Israel. We look forward to supporting future campaigns to this end.”

Francesco Amoruso, a member of the BDS campaign, explained, “In light of a Peace Process that has failed for decades, we believe that BDS is civil society’s most effective means to encourage peace and equal rights for all. We call on all people of conscious to join us in these efforts.”

Exeter Friends of Palestine Facebook group

Cardiff University

Cardiff University – Twinning with the Islamic University of Gaza

Passed through AGM November 2014

Our motion called upon Cardiff University to twin with the Islamic University of Gaza, as an act of solidarity to students who are victims of apartheid.

As we all know, the right to education is enshrined in international law. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that, ‘everyone has the right to education’. However, this right is systematically denied to Palestinians. Violating this right is, therefore, not just an attack on the Palestinians’ right of education but a violation of the worldwide  pursuit of knowledge.

This motion and our motion in recognition of the state of Palestine were both passed unanimously at our Annual General Meeting in November 2014. We are extremely pleased with the result of both of our motions and we hope that this twinning and the recognition of the Palestinian state will be a practical way of advancing the right to education and defeating the 66 year-long abuses of this international principle.

We believe in the importance of solidarity and the difference that it makes to victims of war, apartheid and foreign blockades. Considering we have these privileges and rights which for Palestinian students are constantly being violated by Israeli occupation, it is our responsibility that we support those students in the face of oppression and persecution, so that we can help support their rightful chance at education, and give an opportunity for some of the most oppressed students to realise their ambitions and work against the abominable situation they find themselves in.

Plus in today’s society there are fewer and fewer non-violent tools at our disposal to show our solidarity with the oppressed; twinning is one of them. Twinning not only offers the hand of solidarity to the Palestinian people who are suffering daily under illegal Israeli occupation, but it can also lend practical support to Palestinians both economically and socially.

In the Summer, Cardiff University Palestine Society published a statement of solidarity[1] with educational establishments in Gaza. The Islamic University responded to the statement and said that they would appreciate twinning with our university.

We will now work with our Student Union and our University to implement the resolves of our motion as best as possible. We truly believe that this twinning will allow Cardiff University to be a part of the wider, international community as it will give the opportunity for Palestinian students, in an area of ongoing conflict, to be connected with our university. It will also bring our Union one step closer to being a conflict-free Union and help it gain a fuller understanding of global citizenship, which is crucial as Cardiff University has a strong international student body. Most importantly, we hope that the motion will be a key promoter in recognition of the fact that education is the key to understanding and peace, not hatred and violence.


[1] http://www.cardiffstudents.com/news/article/palestine/Cardiff-University-Palestine-Society-A-Statement-of-Solidarity/

Cardiff University Palestine society Facebook group

University of Manchester

University of Manchester – Twinning with An-Najah University

Passed through All-student Vote  December 2014

Proposal question

Our campaign asked for three things.
First, to renew our university’s twinned partnership with An-Najah National University.
Second, for the University of Manchester to grant a scholarship to student from An-Najah.
Third, to retain the Right to Education plaque – which acknowledges, and supports, the struggles of the Palestinians in achieving an education – in the Student Union (SU) foyer. Our campaign was a display of perseverance, hope and success. And one, we believe, that will resonate with the struggles of the Palestinians.

At first, because the no campaign had overspent, the campaign was annulled and then postponed. This was extremely disheartening: was all of our hard work in vain, would we be able to regain the votes that we lost and can we, the students, be successful in achieving some good for the Palestinians?
If anything, most of us found solace in the fact that we did get students to talk about the injustices in Palestine. And when we campaigned the second time round, this is what we were to bear in mind. If our previous set back would determine the fate of our next campaign, it would do so on our terms.
We spoke to students in libraries, cafes, bars, around campus and when we knocked on their doors. We were so overwhelmed with joy at some of the responses. We learnt that many students do care. They really do. For example, a master’s student was determined to go early to her class and get the other students to vote!

The results of the campaign came out – with 75% of the votes, our YES campaign had won! The SU pledged to help realise our demands.
By making a stand against oppression, the University of Manchester – with its extensive resources and its international reputation – alongside the University of Sheffield, will be a standard for other universities to follow. It is no good to simply censure the injustice in Palestine, but we must actively and publicly support the Palestinians.
And we can do this best in the form of education: here, we strongly advocate peace through education. And this referendum does exactly that.
The student body has so much power, and it is very encouraging and touching to see this power being justly exercised.

We are students making the most of our privileged situation. And we are directing our energies to stand strong with our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Hopefully our campaign shows that if we come together on the basis of a pure devotion for justice, we can accomplish great things.
For, we can never be at ease knowing that the innocent are being oppressed when we don’t employ our power to make a real difference.
Our strength will always lay with our unshakable bond when challenged by the unjust.
Our fight for the liberation of the Palestinians will be that of perseverance, hope and, we pray, success.

Swansea University

Swansea University – BDS

Passed at Student Forum December 2014

Motion

One of the largest student unions in Wales has passed a motion to endorse the Global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian human rights.

Last week, Swansea University students’ Union voted momentously in favour of the motion. With 202 votes in favour and 32 opposed, Swansea Union passed the motion to support and endorse the BDS campaign, by lobbying Swansea University to not employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel’s military capacity, human rights abuses and illegal settlement activities.

The resolves of the motion follows:

-          Swansea Union lobbies Swansea University to terminate their contract with Veolia for the following reasons: – the company operates directly in the illegal settlement disposing waste from these settlements and dumping this on occupied Palestinian land. The company also provides Israeli only transports between settlements, reminiscent of the South Africa apartheid system. This was done 4 years ago by Swansea City Council barring all their contracts with Veolia.

-          Swansea Union educates students on the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

-          Swansea Union work with the relevant body in the National Union of Students to support the BDS Movement which looks to boycott companies identified as facilitating Israel military capacity, Human rights or illegal settlement activities.

The Union will now work to lobby the University to terminate its current contract with Veolia and to withdraw any investments from companies which profit from the violation of Palestinian rights. The motion faced controversy as there were oppositions to take it out from the student forum, however, the BME Officer, Robiu Salisu insisted that the motion should be debated and voted on by the students. In a statement below, Robiu explained his reasoning for proposing this motion

‘The oppression of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli state is not some far off issue we can choose to ignore. We are deeply implicated in the human rights violation of the Israeli State through the University’s investments with companies like Veolia. During the South African apartheid, students took the decision to stand in solidarity with oppressed South Africans. I believe the students of Swansea University have acted in the same spirit by deciding to vote for this motion.’

Similar motions of solidarity with Palestinians have been passed in other students union in Wales this year. Last month, Cardiff Union voted for recognition of Palestine and Twinning with the Islamic University of Gaza.

Medical student, Hamzah Nurgat told us ‘I am extremely pleased that this motion was put to a debate and passed overwhelmingly. I believe this victory – yet another BDS victory – highlights the growing movement of international solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly amongst the student population. It was students who campaigned against apartheid South Africa whilst leaders chose to endorse it, and once again it is students who are taking the charge in campaigning against Israeli oppression of Palestinian human rights.”

Swansea Union BME Campaigns Facebook page

Announcing Confronting Israeli Apartheid conference 2014

*Register here for the Confronting Israeli Apartheid 2014 student Palestine conference.*

Confronting Israeli Apartheid 2014 student Palestine conference
University of Sheffield
October 11-12th

Since student activists for Palestine last met in London in October for the 2013 Confronting Israeli Apartheid conference we’ve seen a year of great successes, with the student movement going from strength to strength, especially in the field of BDS.
There have been a number of universities who have hosted successful BDS campaigns, and it was heartening to see a number of great student activists be elected to positions within their Student Unions.
From G4S losing out on contracts at Kings College London, Kent, and Southampton University, to Sheffield, where we saw both the election of Palestinian activist Malaka Mohammed to the position of Education Officer and the cancellation of the university’s contract with Veolia.
Despite these successes however, the situation in Palestine remains grim, with recent events during Operation ‘Protective Edge’ seeing Israel resorting once again to sustained acts of wanton violence and massacres against Gaza, its infrastructure and its people, with thousands killed and much of the population facing further displacement in the face of Israel’s ground invasion.
It is more important than ever to help amplify the voices of Palestinians, whose resolve and steadfastness in the face of such relentless oppression remains our inspiration.

The deep injustices perpetuated against the Palestinian people during  this latest assault had also led to an unprecedented wave of popular outcry, translating to escalated Boycott, Divestment and Sanction action against Israel.
It remains crucial for the student Palestine solidarity movement to carry forth this momentum with stronger and more unified BDS organising, campaigning and victories.

Last year’s conference was a hugely successful event, with over 150 attendees, and a brilliant line up of speakers, panels, and workshops, all tailored towards student activism. One of the goals of the conference was to move towards greater national coordination, and this too has seen some great progress made, with a national tour of speakers arranged for Israeli Apartheid Week, and more plans for coordination in the pipeline. However there is much more to do, with the opportunity to build a really exciting and dynamic student movement for Palestine, and so we are pleased to announce that the 2014 Confronting Israeli Apartheid conference will be held this year on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of October.

The conference will focus on the practical side of student activism and the BDS movement, and will be a not-to-be-missed opportunity for essential training and skill sharing with some amazing speakers and workshops, as well as with other student activists from around the country. As the voice of student solidarity with Palestine becomes increasingly audible, it has never been more important for us to work together and form a well-coordinated movement, and there is no better way to do this than for student activists from around the country to meet together and build some strong links and plans.

Save the dates and keep your eyes peeled for future announcements, including location and programme, and in the meantime take a look at the report of last year’s conference, found here.

We look forward to seeing you in October!
Confronting Israeli Apartheid Student Committee (Established at the 2013 Conference)

Confronting Israeli Apartheid: Building the Student Movement for Palestine

The weekend of 12th and 13th October 2013 saw the first UK-wide student Palestine solidarity conference hosted in London. The conference was organised out of a desire by numerous university societies across the UK to coordinate their solidarity work for a free Palestine. Held over two days in the University of London Union, the conference offered students the opportunity to choose from ten workshops focused on different aspects of building the student movement and coordinating successful campaigns.

The first day opened with a panel discussion of the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions with guest speakers: Ben White, who spoke about the discrimination facing Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and ‘48 from the Israeli state with particular focus on movement and access, housing and political oppression; Adam Hanieh, who spoke about ‘the myth of the negotiations process’; Anan Quzmar, who spoke of the importance of student solidarity on campus as well as the case for a UK wide network; and Rafeef Ziadah from the War on Want campaign, who spoke about the call for BDS, emphasising the Divestment call in particular which has been somewhat neglected in student campaigns in Europe. The panel was followed by a question and answer session where different issues raised during the panel were discussed in more detail, such as the need for a unified student movement and the desire by those involved to share advice on how to deal with opposition on campus.

From the opening panel on day one; more than 150 people attended the two-day conference.

From the opening panel on day one; more than 150 people attended the two-day conference.

Following the panel all attendees were invited to attend two workshops that covered basic topics relevant to everyone regardless of the length of their involvement in Palestine solidarity work. These were: ‘Building Effective Campaigns’ and ‘Explaining Israeli Apartheid’. The ‘Building Effective Campaigns’ session combined discussion and sharing of past experiences in campaigning with a planning exercise for building a campaign. It outlined 6 key steps in building a strategy: establish aims; research; pick suitable targets; discuss and decide on tactics; evaluate the campaign; and, assess whether established goals have been reached. The session on ‘Explaining Israeli Apartheid’ was a discussion-based workshop which identified the legal definition of Apartheid and then addressed how it can be used to identify the injustices of the occupation of Palestine. Students used a role playing exercise to discuss the answers to some commonly asked questions about the situation in Palestine and the analysis of Israel as an apartheid state.

The second day began with a brief opening session on building the student movement after the conference from Max Ajl. Max spoke about the student Palestine solidarity experience in the United States, different models of organising as well as the politics of solidarity. The proposal for a follow up committee was also raised.

This was followed by the morning workshop session with three workshops to choose from:
• ‘Throwing Corporate Criminals off Campus’
• ‘Divesting from Israeli Apartheid’
• ‘Building an Academic Boycott’.
A timeline exercise was incorporated into each of the workshops in order to provide students with the means of building a campaign from start to finish, including such key information as fact finding, filing freedom of information requests, and building relations with other groups in the university.

‘Throwing Corporate Criminals off Campus’ took a detailed look at campaign skills and tools with a special focus on campaigns against university contracts with companies that participate in Israeli apartheid such as Veolia, Eden Springs and G4S.

The focus of ‘Divesting from Israeli Apartheid’ was on campaigns seeking to pressure universities to sell any shares they have in companies that are complicit with Israeli violations of international law. Emphasis was placed on the importance of co-ordinating a two-pronged strategy of public campaigning and private correspondence with the university.

‘Building an Academic Boycott’ focused on campaigns that aim to implement a boycott of Israeli universities and academic institutions because of their deep complicity with Israeli apartheid.

The afternoon session offered a selection of five workshops:
• ’Countering Opposition, Repression and Normalisation’
• ‘Working Within Student Unions and the National Union of Students
• ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’
• ‘Running an effective Palestine Society’
• ‘Right to Education Campaign’.

As the solidarity movement continues to grow, Israel and its supporters attempt to sabotage and undermine grassroots campaigning, including pushing for “dialogue”. The ‘Countering Opposition, Repression and Normalisation’ workshop examined and developed strategies for ensuring opposition isn’t able to undermine campaigning on campus. Learning to recognise and resist normalisation was a key theme throughout the workshop and those attending learned different aims and approaches taken by the most prevalent anti-BDS groups active on UK campuses. Students were presented with some of the common arguments and broader strategies used by pro-Israeli actors in order to discuss a variety of possible responses specific to each tactic.

Many student unions now have official policy supporting BDS, but very few have put their weight behind BDS campaigns. In ‘Working Within Student Unions and the National Union of Students’ the issues of how to unleash the potential of student unions supporting BDS and how to make sure our strength on campus is translated into strong support for Palestine and BDS from the National Union of Students were addressed. Students attending this conference were taught how to pass motions through student unions, the format these motions normally take, and how to exploit these motions to the greatest benefit of the PalSoc. The relationship between societies and student union officers, along with how to use student union officers to your advantage was also covered.

The ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ workshop began the discussion on organising Israeli Apartheid Week 2014 on a national level with more coordination between UK university groups, with results from the discussion being presented in the closing session.

In the ‘Running an Effective Palestine Workshop’ the core skills involved in campaigning effectively on campus were discussed. Topics covered in the workshop included running successful events and campaigns, how to deal with university administrations, how to stay organised and the best means of advertising.

The aims of the ‘Right to Education Campaign’ were to introduce the situation of Palestinian education under occupation, the Right to Education campaign and to discuss Right to Education campaigning in the UK, including Right to Education week.

The closing session brought together all conference attendees to hear feedback from some of the workshops and to further discuss and agree on next steps regarding communication, coordination and Israeli Apartheid Week 2014. During this session the dates for Israeli Apartheid week were set as 24th to 28th February 2014, a follow up committee was established and it was agreed that a mailing list would be set up in order to aid communication between Palestine solidarity societies.

Confronting Israeli Apartheid was an undeniable success, providing a unique opportunity for solidarity societies to share successes and challenges faced on campus and to hear first-hand advice based on past experiences. The more than 150 dedicated student activists who attended the conference have built essential links between groups and contributed to a strong and bright future for the student Palestine solidarity movement in the UK.

Announcement 2013

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) was held at a record 25+ universities across Britain in 2013. There have also been important successes in recent weeks, such as the decision by Dundee Students Union to drop its contract with G4S, the vote by Queen Mary’s Student Union to initiate a campaign against Veolia and G4S and the student mobilisation that prevented the Deputy Israeli Ambassador from speaking at the University of Essex.

Building on this success, student Palestine solidarity groups are calling for a national Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) student conference in London early in the 2013-2014 academic year.

We will continue to grow and develop the BDS movement with panel discussions and activist workshops. Sessions will help activists to develop the practical tools they need to launch or enhance BDS campaigns on their campuses. The aim is to launch BDS campaigns across our universities and share information and skills across our areas of activism.

This convergence will be an invaluable resource for new activists and a momentum-building opportunity for those already engaged with solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality.

Planning will start shortly – to add your university to the list of endorsers or get involved contact iawuk2013@gmail.com

Signed:

Birmingham City University Palestine Society
Birmingham University Students for Justice in Palestine Society
City University London Palestine Society
Dundee University Action Palestine Society
Durham Palestine Society
Edinburgh Students for Justice in Palestine
Essex Palestine Society
Goldsmiths Palestine Campaign
Kent University Palestine Solidarity Group
KCL Action Palestine
Leeds University Palestine Solidarity Group
LSE Palestine Society
Nottingham University Palestine Society
Queen Mary Palestine Solidarity Society
SOAS Palestine Society
UCL Friends of Palestine Society
UEL Palestine Liberation Society
University of East Anglia Palestine Society
University of Liverpool Friends of Palestine
University of Sheffield Palestine Society
University of Southampton Students for Palestine Society