KCLAP Statement regarding Al Jazeera investigation

It is with rage to hear about the way NUS VP Richard Brooks was found colluding with the Israeli government to overthrow Malia Boutattia, as shown in a 6-months investigation by Al Jazeera. The democratically-elected President was targeted for her strong pro-BDS stance – another example of how Palestine solidarity and activism on campus is undermined by using surveillance, aggressive intimidation tactics and Islamophobic abuse, especially targeting Palestinian students and Muslim students of colour.

Brooks also failed to mention a trip he had taken to Israel with the Union of Jewish Students(UJS) in his report during the National Executive Council (NEC), where officers report back on the work they’ve been doing and are held accountable.

It is well-known that the Israeli government channelled $25 million of funding to undermine BDS globally through the creation of a Special Task Force led by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs – which works with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israeli embassies and consulates) as well as pro-Israel groups to coordinate anti-BDS activities. These acts of repression will only heighten boost support for boycotting Israel.

KCLAP condemns these attacks on our NUS President and on Palestine activism on campus and beyond. We demand Richard Brook’s suspension effective immediately and expect the process of accountability is followed through.

Please read and sign this letter written by Palestinian students in the UK:
https://medium.com/…/statement-by-palestinian-students-in-t…

Full details of the Al Jazeera footage can be found below: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/revealed-how-nus-official-colluded-israeli-government-oust-malia-bouattia-730807685

(Part 1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceCOhdgRBoc
(Part 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vuk1EhkEctE
(Part 3): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3dn-VV3czc
(Part 4): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pddH2sfNKNY

Demilitarise King’s

***Sign the open letter that Demilitarise King’s wrote to the principal**

“If the purpose and values of King’s College are to educate and promote skills and research to make the world a better place, why does our institution continue to invest millions of pounds in the companies which make the greatest contribution to the displacement, murder and destruction of human lives? If King’s College is to represent itself as providing answers to ‘world questions’, we must work to actually address the systemic causes of global suffering and examine our own complicity in these practices.”

The Demilitarise King’s campaign had its first stall in the Strand campus on 1st December! Students & academics were shocked to learn about the many forms the arms and military industries are involved with King’s. From pension schemes, direct investments, research & projects, this represents the commercialisation and militarisation of education in pursuit of state and corporate goals.

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Through King’s College Action Palestine’s (KCLAP) research last year, and with the help from our friends at Fossil Free, we found out that King’s has invested around £1.5m in arms companies. The national pension scheme for King’s staff also has fund investments in cluster munitions and land mines. The ethical implications of this go way beyond Palestine. British bombs are playing a key role in Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen, in a conflict in which over 10,000 civilians have been killed.

Where does King’s invest our money? (click on each company to find out more ino)
BAE Systems
Caterpillar Inc.
Elbit Systems Ltd.
General Dynamics
General Electric
Hewlett-Packard Company
Lockheed Martin & more.

The campaign is now under the umbrella of the KCL Anti-Racism Campaigning Network.

For more info on the arms trade, the #StudyWarNoMore report intends to support students concerned about the impact their institutions have on international peace and conflict.

Check-out the Facebook page to keep updated on actions & events and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) Universities Network blog post about Demilitarise King’s. 

UN Day of Solidarity with Palestine

29th November 2016 marked the 39th United Nations annual Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. On 29th November 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine. In 1977, a decade after Israel had completed the full occupation of Palestinian land, the General Assembly passed Resolution 32/40 B, declaring the day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

This day has traditionally provided an opportunity for the international community to focus its attention on the unresolved issue of Palestine, and the fact that they are yet to attain their inalienable rights; namely, the right to self-determination, the individual human rights of all people, and the right to return to their homes and land from which they have been displaced.

It is in line with this, that we decided to do a short recording in the SU Lobby in the Strand campus. This will be added to other messages of love and solidarity from other students around the UK and put together in a video which will be shared with students in Gaza and the West Bank.

We believe that as residents of the United Kingdom, and as students from King’s College London, we have a responsibility and duty to show our support and actively support the Palestinian struggle through the tactics of Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS). This is especially true, seeing as both the UK and our university are complicit and have invested in the likes of arms companies that are actively used by Israel, to maintain and prolong the decades-long occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Today and every day we stand with Palestinians and send our message of solidarity to all those fighting for justice, freedom and equality.

We also wanted to share this beautiful video made by the Manchester Palestine Society!

Stop HP! Target the Trade Fair

On 29 November, the international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, KCLAP joined London Palestine Action, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want and Friends of Al-Aqsa at the Excel Centre where Hewlett-Packard (HP) held a big trade show to drum up business from the tech sector. But despite the “Discover” name, attendees were not given the full facts of what HP is doing to Palestinians. That’s where we came in to make sure that attendees who stepped foot into the fair were under no illusions about how HP tracks and puts Palestinians under surveillance.


Why boycott HP?

HP plays a key role in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the prime contractor of the Basel system, an automated biometric access control system employed within Israel’s checkpoints and apartheid wall. The ID cards distributed as part of this system form the basis of Israel’s systematic discrimination against Palestinians. HP technology helps the Israeli navy enforce the siege on Gaza.

HP also provides services to illegal Israeli settlements, manages people for profit in Israeli prisons where torture is systematic. Outside of Israel, HP is the backbone of the US military-industrial complex, tracking migrants and managing prison populations.

You can read more info about HP on the BDS Movement page.

Further information is available from ‘Who Profits’.

KCLAP’s statement in response to Daniel’s Scheuftan visit

This evening, the doors connecting the King’s building and the students’ union lobby were locked, extra security guards were patrolling the Strand campus and the police outside the campus confirmed they had been called for the Israel Society event. This is just another example of how universities brand Palestine activists and Palestine societies as a threat. For this reason, KCL Action Palestine (KCLAP) agreed it was the best decision for our society and the Palestine student movement to not attend the event. From experience, we know that pro-Israel advocacy groups work with Israeli student societies to undermine Palestine solidarity activism on campuses, using aggressive intimidation tactics, Islamophobic abuse and false accusations of antisemitism. They attempt to stifle debate and stigmatise initiatives like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

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Although the SU “allowed” us to protest the talk under the new agreement between KCL and KCLSU, it is well known that Palestine activism on campus is demonised, particularly when challenging the presence of Israeli speakers complicit in human rights abuses. In the past, the college has suppressed student voices and not only failed to respect our right to peaceful disapproval but condemned it.

KCLAP condemns the decision of KCL and KCLSU to provide a platform to Daniel Scheuftan, despite the fact we showed clear evidence of how the event went against the external speaker policy by Schueftan’s promotion of intolerance, racism and hate towards a particular group of people. Once again, it is clear that our university is protecting its own interests and the interests of the groups they receive funding from, caving to outside pressures. Freedom of speech under Zionist lobbyists, a cover for racism and colonialist practices, demonstrates the absolute disparity in power.

You can find more information about the event’s speaker and read the emails we sent to the principal here & here.
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KCLAP considers this evening to be a victory for the society and for the movement because we focused our energy and work in sending love and solidarity messages to our friends in Palestine for the UN Day of Solidarity with Palestine. Look out for the video which will be released soon!

We are also extremely excited to announce the launch of a new campaign:

Demilitarise King’s! dsc07153-1Through KCLAP’s research last year, and with the help from our friends at Fossil Free, we found out that King’s has invested around £1.5 million in arms companies! The ethical implications of this go way beyond Palestine (BAE Systems, for example is well known for selling arms to Saudi Arabia). The campaign is now under the umbrella of the KCL Anti-Racism Campaigning Network. The campaign wants to ensure that King’s divests from arms companies and companies that are complicit in human right abuses/have connections with rogue states or states that break international law and ensure that funding for projects and scholarships don’t come from unethical sources. You can sign and support the campaign here & sign the open letter to the principal here.

For freedom, equality and return.
KCLAP

Continue reading “KCLAP’s statement in response to Daniel’s Scheuftan visit”

WELCOME

KCL Action Palestine extends a huge welcome to this year’s cohort of freshers, to our existing supporters, to every one of you that came and said hello at the recent fresher’s fair; Welcome!

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We were blown away by the response!

Many of you expressed an interest in attending our events and knowing how best to contact us so I thought I’d dedicate my first KCLAP blog to doing just that.

But first let’s talk about our first event.


The KCL Anti-Racism Campaigning Poetry Night and Fundraiser

Not the most succinct of event names but here at KCLAP you’ll learn we like to get straight to the point. In a collaboration like no other we were able to bring togfistether the *Deep Breath* Intersectional Feminist Society, King’s People of Colour Association, KCL Student Action for Refugees, EcoSoc and King’s For Refugees/Undoing Borders.

 

Why? Because Racism in its many forms commonly intersects the variety of political, activist and solidarity organisation here at KCL. I’ve been here a while and learned quickly that university is like any other microcosm, albeit a tad skewed and often covert in its microaggression. We hope this collective of societies can this year delve into shedding light on our common aim to educate, expose and disassemble the octopus that is racism and its hidden tentacles. I would implore you all to make the most of your time at KCL with societies, events, and dialogues that open doors to schools of thought not governed by whitewashed curriculum. If your society shares this ethos, we’re open to expanding.

If you didn’t attend the event, it’s fine… I don’t hold grudges and there’ll hopefully be plenty of future ones. The night in itself very much expressed the subject of racism through Artivism: Artistic Activism…see what I did there? Photography, Spoken Word and Film together with talks from various representative of the societies involved in the collaboration offered the issues in an alternative way.

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We entered through a photo display by Ahmed Twaij; KCL Masters Student, freelance writer and photojournalist. He would later share his thoughts on his experiences in Iraq via a Skype Convo. He spoke about racism and colourism across the Arab world, and within our own activism in response to the refugee crisis. Check out his thought provoking photography at https://www.instagram.com/everydayiraq.

This was preceded by moving poetry from Maria Shah. Introducing with a recitation in Urdu of a piece by one of Pakistan’s most beloved poets Habib Jalib. Her English translation spoke of oppression and the issues surrounding elitism within Pakistan which stirred many an emotion.

Videos of Lowkey’s Ahmed, and Rafeef Ziadah’s ‘We teach life’ and ‘Shades of Anger’ brought focus on the plight of the Palestinians through rap and spokenword (my personal bae). Both artists, be it through viral youtube videos or songs that will never be forgotten, have had a history of bringing Palestinian activism to the masses.

Love to learn spoke of its work with children from refugee backgrounds living in south London. Creating a safe and fun space for them to dance, sing and be together. They shared their music video “home sweet home” which has to be the CUTEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN. LOOK! https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeWeek/videos/1112180252153497/

KCL’s very own STAR (Student Action for Refugees) volunteer with Love to Learn every week so if you’re interested in getting involved hit them up.

Poet Fatima Abbas then brought it back to performance; reciting poetry speaking of her experiences as a muslim woman traversing a western world.

Sarah Oneal’s piece ‘An Overreaction’ conveyed the sentiments of the Black Lives Matter Movement in its plight to dismantling police brutality in the US. “The cops kill more black people each year than the KKK lynched. And you want our marches peaceful, you want us calm, you want us quiet
Stop asking us to bite our tongues when we cannot guarantee our siblings safe passage to the corner store”.

anthony

The evening finished  with the award winning, internationally renowned Spoken Word Poet; Anthony Anaxagorou. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for the past 4 years and have learned more about politics, world history and activism through his pieces than I ever did throughout my education experience. He did not fail to live up to his reputation.

For first ever KCL Anti-Racism Campaign event, bias aside, it was a pretty AWESOME. But don’t take just my word for it:

“KCL Poetry Night was such a beautiful evening – extremely moving, and it really inspired me to be more proactive in standing up to racism. Just being surrounded by so many people from all different backgrounds who were all there to raise awareness and learn about how we can fight racism was in itself such an empowering atmosphere to be a part of!”

                        (Farah Orths, 3rd year KCL Philosophy student)

“ I thought it was one of the best events I’ve ever been to! Great to see loads of societies doing an event together showing that even though all the causes they stand for are different they’re still united. Anthony was sick!”

                                                        (Salma Khan, 3rd year KCL Medical student)
Not too shabby.


KCL Action Palestine Committee 2016

If you’d like to contact us regarding future events, our plans or just want to get to know us here is your 2016 KCLAP Committee:

Co- Presidents: Ibtehal Hussain (ibtehal.hussain@kcl.ac.uk) and Joe Simpson (joseph.simpson@kcl.ac.uk)

Secretary: Mariam (mariam.dawood@kcl.ac.uk)

Events : Saba (Saba.iqbal@kcl.ac.uk)

Outreach : Lexy (k1337948@kcl.ac.uk)

Publicity : Kamil Mahmood (kamil.mahmood@kcl.ac.uk) and Zahra Butt (zahra.butt@kcl.ac.uk)

Treasurer: Nadz (poca@kclsu.org)

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Moving Forwards

I know by now your eyes are probably tired but I just wanted to squeeze in a little about what KCLAP plan’s to do this year. Our purpose very much revolves around supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle to achieving 3 main things. These include the end of the occupation, equal rights for the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes as stipulated in UN Resolution 194

How do we achieve this? Through Campaigning, Building and Educating.

CAMPAIGNS – working with other societies and organisations we will work to divest from companies we feel are complicit in the occupation and violation of the rights of the Palestinian people

EDUCATE – we get that there is much misunderstanding around this conflict. KCLAP is a place to learn more about the key historical and political issues which led to today. We will run educational events and study circles which we hope will help you understand these issues and the importance of Palestinian activism

BUILD – KCLAP is forever growing and relies on people like yourself, your individuality, creativity and your passion for us to continue our work. We hope to build a network of activists through regular events as varied and engaging as you all are. So if you have any ideas for an event feel free to approach us through our open meetings and we’ll see what we can do. We want to tackle misconceptions about Palestinian activism as well as making clear our commitment to opposing prejudice in ALL forms.

 

In the meantime keep an eye out for our events through Facebook (@KCLActionPalestine), Twitter (@KCLAP) and of course this blog (permissiontonarrate.wordpress.com). Whilst we’re on the subject we’re looking for guest bloggers so if you feel there’s a topic you want to write which resonates with Palestinian Solidarity then get in contact.

Peace and Solidarity

Kamil

 

 

Shimon Peres death reminds us why KCL Action Palestine came into existence, and the obscenity of King’s decision not to revoke his Honorary Doctorate.

Photo: former Israeli president Shimon Peres poses with a gun next to Israeli military personnel.
Photo: former Israeli president Shimon Peres poses with a gun next to Israeli military personnel.

Post-January exam classes had just started and mornings were grey and chilly in London. The 2008 Gaza massacre had ended in a unilateral ceasefire on the 18th of January 2009. The toll was 4,000 homes destroyed, over 1,300 Palestinian deaths and many more thousands injured. This destruction was to last, as it is common with every Gaza onslaught. According to the UNCHR 75% of the houses were never rebuilt.

It was the morning of the 20th of that same month as students made their way to lectures that a group of 40-strong students stormed the Nash lecture theatre with banners, placards, and slogans. By the afternoon they had grown to 80 students with an online petition of support with 500 signatures. This was the tipping point. King’s College London had awarded Shimon Peres with an Honorary Doctorate for his “peaceful solution to conflicts in the Middle East” a month before the onslaught started. At the same time, the principal of the time decided to stay silent as people were being butchered and put under the rubble.

Students declared an occupation to demand King’s College London revoke the honorary doctorate it awarded to Shimon Peres alongside demands that included building links with Palestinian universities, providing scholarships for Palestinians to study in the UK, and divesting from arms companies. In doing so, they joined LSE, SOAS and Essex universities in their movement of solidarity with Palestine. Regular rallies and protests outside the Strand and at the principal’s office, news reporters, panels with academics from King’s and other universities, and constant debate characterised the occupation.

The occupation ended with students declaring victory and the creation of KCL Action Palestine. Its’ proclaimed aim: “[to] continue to fight for the end of the siege of Gaza and a Free Palestine on campus and raise awareness about the need to keep building the movement.” Eight thousand pounds were raised to support educational institutions in Gaza, computers and medical equipment were donated do the Islamic University of Gaza, and scholarships for Palestinian students were established.

But not all the demands were met. King’s was vociferous about not revoking Shimon’s honorary degree. Being unable to uphold the honours it initially paid to him when the honorary doctorate was awarded, King’s decided to argue that such revocation “would have a very negative impact on the College’s ability to be a centre of expertise on Middle East affairs including the peace process itself.” Instead, it opted to write to him directly about the “concerns noted regarding the conflict”. This reaction falls well within the mainstream Western narrative, where famous Zionist doves are praised as “men of peace” while Palestinians and their many other victims have to bear seeing these men pass without ever seeing accountability for their committed crimes. Failing to revoke his degree was not a way for KCL to retain its expert status, but an obscene political stance.[1]

Then there are other promises or half promises King’s never delivered. Up to this date there is no link with Palestinian universities, yet KCL has a working relationship with the Herzilya institute in Israel, it almost secured a year abroad with the Hebrew university, and in 2010 it had to end an academic partnership with the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava after significant student pressure. Furthermore, there was never a move to create an investment policy that would avoid arms companies until the creation of the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee thanks to renewed student pressure from KCLAP and Fossil Free KCL in 2015.

It is in this context that KCL Action Palestine continues its work and campaign to end our institution’s complicity with apartheid. We continue to demand the building of educational bridges between King’s and Palestinian universities, based on the success of these in institutions like Goldsmiths University and SOAS and the values that our own university proclaims. We continue to demand fully-funded scholarships specifically for students from Gaza. And this year we aim to start the campaign to achieve full divestment from arms companies.

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Occupying students at Nash Lecture theater receive a lecture from Mike Cushman (LSE)

For Peace, Justice and equality,
guest blogger: Alberto Torres (former president of KCLAP)

 

 

[1] Shimon Peres praise as a man of peace comes from his role in the drafting and signing of the Oslo accords in 1993. This comes from a misunderstanding of what the Oslo accords were designed to achieve – the further entrenchment of the occupation and theft of land under the false guise of a state in the making. More striking however, is the standing of this praise in spite of his shelling of Lebanon which led to the Qana massacre two years later, his reputation as the architect of Israel’s secret nuclear Arsenal, and his role as global ambassador during Israel’s repeated Gaza massacres in 2008, 2012, and 2014[1].