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”.

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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].