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.
The 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