Confronting Israeli Apartheid 2014, Sheffield University

Mariya Hussain

The annual Confronting Israeli Apartheid conference took place at Sheffield University last weekend. Students from all over the UK, including members of KCLAP, went for the weekend to learn how to, as the name of the conference suggests, confront Israeli apartheid and build the student movement for Palestine on campus. A lot of emphasis was placed on BDS campaigns and how to plan them.

TProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presethe weekend began with talks from Malaka Mohammed, Abdul Razzaq Takriti, Juman Abujbara and Rafeef Ziadah followed by a question and answer session which set a tone of discussion and education for the weekend. Workshops that followed focused on campaigning and how to effectively communicate about the Palestinian struggle on campus, two things that are a Palestinian society’s primary objectives.

Sunday was more specific and very helpful. “Combating Lawfare” explored the tactics used by anti-Palestinian groups to close down debate and how to combat it; “Building Connections with Palestine” and “Working with Local Activists & After University Activism” both focused on building networks, locally, nationally and internationally, something vital for the cause; “Working within Student Unions” and “Operating within NUS” delivered by Areeb Ullah and Malia Bouattia cleared up misconceptions about the role of NUS regarding Palestine and how we can get involved to affect policy and ensure implementation of change.

The weekend ended with dates decided for regional meetups, planning for BDS campaigns and a group photograph before we all departed and took what we learnt back to our campuses across the country.

After the practical advice and education on campaigning and supporting the cause, the most beneficial and exciting thing about the conference was meeting fellow student activists. It was great to hear about Palestinian societies and campaigns, their success, setbacks and plans for the future. Palestinians themselves were heard from too, whether they were presenting or attending, and the conference provided a unique meeting point where their voices and thoughts could be heard.

The conference painted a picture of the state of Palestine activism within the student body and what a diverse canvas it was! Societies and campaigns were at different stages, obstacles were being faced, successes being celebrated, but the common thread throughout the diversity was the inspiring enthusiasm and dedication to the Palestinian cause. Real change can be made through the student movement and the Confronting Israeli Apartheid conference highlighted this, galvanising all who attended.

Some thoughts from members who attended:

It was great to meet with other Palestinian societies, hear their ideas and network. It was also great to meet really cool people like Rafeef Ziadah, who it turns out is an amazing woman.

- David Robinson

A thrilling, politically charged conference full of passionate and active students. The level of organisation was incredible, I could imagine a similar thing happening during the boycott movement against apartheid South Africa or the anti war movement during Vietnam. I hope, as part of the international solidarity movement and the Palestinian resistance, that we make history.

- Alberto Torres

The conference gave me education and confidence in knowing what we can do as a society and student body. The question and answer sessions with Palestinian speakers offered a real and personal view point.

- Duaa Khair

The variety of people there was great to see as it projected this United front supporting the Palestinian cause. Also the workshops gave us brilliant advice on how to effectively transmit and broadcast the principles and motives of KCLAP. It was a well organised event with great guest speakers, and I highly anticipate attending the next one.

- Ghenwa Minawi

I learnt a lot through the workshops and found meeting other student activists from around the country very interesting. It was good to hear about all the work going on and the plans for the future.

- Yousef Eltuhamy

 

 

The Rain in Gaza

It rains death in Gaza,

Wetting the streets with the blood of the drowning.

It rains so often in Gaza,
That there is even forecast and a warning shower;
A promise of heavy weather.
Yet too often, five minutes is too short a time to grab an umbrella,
And as with all forecasts, you cannot completely predict the rain.

It has rained for years in Gaza,
Sometimes it drizzles, sometimes it pours,
But it never fully halts. It rains so much that
Its drenched denizens raise their arms and cry out:
“When will the rain stop?!”
But their wet, weary voices are barely heard over
The thunderous drums of war.

“Will the rain stop today?” Asks a child in Gaza.
And the reply comes from birds with metal wings
Whose melodies do not delight the ears, but instead threaten
With the promise of a revisiting storm.
The mother sighs “Be patient, dear” as she wipes the child’s tears,
Not noticing the two drops of rain
That stream down her own face.

For she knows.
She knows that it will always rain in Gaza.

As long as Gaza tries to stand in the hurricane,
It will rain.
As long as Gaza gasps for air and refuses to drown,
It will rain.
As long as Gaza’s heart beats despite the blood loss,
It will rain.
And rain.
And rain.

I pray as I watch that rain.
I plead and beg and pray for a time when
Men can say: “It used to rain in Gaza”,

“But it doesn’t any more”.

 

————-

By Yousef Eltuhamy, 2nd year studying Medicine.

scary-look

A message in solidarity with the Islamic University of Gaza

Twenty-four hours after Israel announced a three-day ceasefire in its recent assault on the Gaza strip, the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) has been bombed by Israeli Air Forces.

This is the not the first time that Israel has attacked the IUG on baseless accusations. In the 2008-2009 offensive on Gaza, it was struck on six separate occasions. The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict disputed Israel’s claims that Hamas was using the institution to research and develop rockets.[1]

Throughout Israel’s current incursion we have seen its abhorrent disregard of international law as it mercilessly pummels civilian areas including homes, market places, hospitals, mosques and six UN schools.

As pages of textbooks lay scattered amongst the debris of this latest attack, we can see that Israel is brazenly denying Palestinians their right to education as described in article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The average age of a Palestinian in the Gaza strip is 17, this is an attack on their future and their education.

As Israeli universities like Tel-Aviv lend its support to the atrocities taking place in the Gaza strip through offering one year of free tuition to students who serve in the attack on Gaza, we can see the importance of implementing an academic boycott in our higher education institutions.[2]

before and afterKing’s College London’s motto is sancte et sapienter, as students we urge the College and the Student’s Union – in holiness and wisdom – to publically condemn the devastation of the Islamic University of Gaza. Israel’s actions are in direct violation of international law and stand in complete contradiction to the aims of universities worldwide: the indiscriminate pursuit of knowledge.

 

 ———

 [1] http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf

[2] http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-universities-lend-support-gaza-massacre

An Ode to Gaza

Can you see their bloodied rags
or their twisted limbs,
the horror in their eyes,
Can you tell me their sin?

Can you feel the ground tremble,
or infected wounds on their skin,
the emptiness in side ,
Can you manage a grin?

Can you hear the rockets sail,
their tanks, their bombs, their guns,
a family home blown up,
Can death be fun?

Can you taste poisonous gas,
hissing from the shells,
the bitterness on your lips,

Can you live in hell?

Can you smell burning flesh,
amidst their childish cries,
doctors shake their heads,
Can the international community but sigh?

———-

Rebecca Zard,
KCL English Law and French Law student

 

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT

Our message of solidarity to Birzeit University

Yesterday, Birzeit University in Ramallah was subject to raids by Israeli occupation forces. KCL Action Palestine sends this message of solidarity to the students at Birzeit university. The right to education is a fundamental human right and Palestinian students are consistently faced with city closures, military roadblocks and the 8m high apartheid barrier – illegal under international law – which runs through the West Bank and prevents thousands of students and staff from reaching university.

Israeli Occupation forces have a track record of arresting Palestinians and holding them for prolonged amount of times without charge under the policy of administrative detention. Administrative detention is the policy of arrest and detention of individuals without trial. At the time of writing, Addameer reported that nearly 200 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israeli Occupation forces under the policy of administrative detention. In some instances, students have had to return back to education after a year or two of arrest and detention.

This raid comes in light of the recent kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers. The Israeli Occupation Forces have increased their presence in the West Bank since the kidnapping, with Hebron under siege this week.[1]

In the UK we have seen widespread “cops off campus” demonstrations against the heavy police presence on our campuses in response to politicised student activity. What is happening in Birzeit University shows us why we were protesting, Palestinian students see their freedoms denied daily. This recent raid saw the occupation forces looting from student blocs.[2]

Whilst those in opposition to the Palestine solidarity movement claim that our emphasis on employing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions upon the government of Israel impinges upon their own academic freedom, we see the exact thing happening in the occupied territories as a result of Israel’s policies of discrimination.

KCL Action Palestine supports and stands with the students at Birzeit University against these acts of intimidation and the Israeli occupation that continues to deny Palestinians their right to education.

For more information:

https://www.facebook.com/right2edu?ref=stream

 

 

[1] https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10152069439876829&id=57781791828

[2] https://twitter.com/MaathMusleh/status/479576714612195328

KCLAP BDS Motion Short Statement

In light of yesterday’s success in passing the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions at the Student General Meeting, this is a short statement on behalf of KCLAP (a longer one will follow shortly). We are very pleased that KCL and KCLSU facilitated the opportunity to debate on this issue, an issue called for by more than 300 KCL students.

We would like to say once again, the main aim of this motion is to create and engage in dialogue within our college community, to begin to question our College on its investment in companies that are directly involved in international human right’s abuses such as G4S, Veolia and Eden Springs. We support the call by Fossil Free for KCL to cut ties with companies involved in the fossil fuel industry with the same fervour in which we support divesting from companies sustaining the occupation of Palestinian territory.

We would like to reiterate that this motion is not anti-semitic and does not aim to alienate any student on campus. KCLAP will remain at the forefront of combating anti-semitism alongside all forms of xenophobia. And we would be more than happy to discuss questions and issues that any students have regarding this motion. Our email address is kclactionpalestine@googlemail.com

To reiterate, this was a motion called for by more than 300 students of King’s College London. To deny the legitimacy of this motion is to deny the voices of a large cohort of students. We look forward to the next year, working towards making our university more ethically robust, one that refuses to profit at the expense of others and once again we wholeheartedly thank everyone – both students and staff – for your support.

Letter to my Unborn Son

Upon my parting of this world
When I will take off my worn leather shoes
And step barefoot onto mounds of soil from which I was fashioned.
There is a possibility that you my child will never know the hue of eyes that love you more than sight itself,
And you will linger on a lifetimes’s curb seeking out questions that have no satisfactory answer.

So, I will leave you with this letter.
I leave with you this letter and a shoebox of trinkets
I leave with you this letter and a shoebox of trinkets and a lesson you must embrace even after the reminiscence of a father fades.

Go to the attic
Look in the chest beneath the painting Uncle Samir sent
Take out these 4 items I leave you
Let your eyes hold their image captive
Let Your fingers find meaning like a blind child pawing over the Quran in braille

The first a jar, crystal clear, plane and pure .
Filled with soil and seeds, the very fabric of your fatherland: PALESTINE.
Very much a part of you as the shed aftermath of haircuts I would have given you.
This earth and you are the same.
Grew crops that sustained you even before the inception of a great grandson
Same eyes, same legs, same hands same skin
A tree who’s roots know routes to places they don’t show in brochures
Hold onto this jar
This earth and you are the same.

The second a Key
They may take your land, your bed, your towel and your spine
But take this key and know there is a home who’s lights you forgot to turn off.
A place that is ours that might be veneered with glistening white settlements
But the grape vines in the garden can testify for you.
You are key without a keyhole, without a door or a place to hang our coats
Rustic corroded but heavy in your hand and warm to the touch.
If I can teach you anything about keys it’s:
Don’t let them jingle at the thigh of a prison guard
But in the precious hands of your daughters as you write your own letters.
Though you may try to cut new keys – they will scrape edges and never quite fit the same
And it might be hard to imagine heights of keyholes or the width of unfamiliar doors but there will always be a place to hang your coat
We make our own keyholes
Make your bricks from the land ground from our bones
Pile them high like stacks of plates to make clay walls
Opposing their cold apartheid walls
Never settle for halves but wholes
We make our own keyholes

Take the third item: a Kuffiyeh
And run it through your fingers like zamzam water
Wear it around your neck, my arms embraced
Soak up the smells of dust and soil, perfume and olive oil
Wear your colours not for the sake of nationalistic pride but to inspire
You my son will inspire
When missiles bombs and bullets cast the sky in fire
Through massacres and exterminations,
warped statistics and annihilations
Past road blocks and fences,
Humiliation through colonisation
You will practice your p’s so your homeland will be tattooed on the tip of your tongue
Read books and write poems
You are from Kalil where champions among men blessed the land with their burial
Ibrahim, Ishaac and Yakub
Abrahm, Isac, and Jacob
You my son will inspire

The last item is but a mirror
A mirror I bought at a market still filled with the sound of optimistic laughter and Life
Where people who have close to nothing can still spare a smile
A mirror to remind you that all that I am is in you
Same eyes, same nose, same mouth
That you are in every way possible loved
And that the refugee status passed onto you will not serve as an unwanted mutation
But as a reminder that you walk hand in hand with hope
You
You are Palestinian

By Kamil Mahmood