Spreading like wildfire, student university occupations in solidarity with the people of Gaza have finally reached the shores of American academia. Students at the University of Rochester, inspired by their peers in the UK, staged a sit-in and after only 9 hours marched out victorious having won all of their demands.
1. Divestment: We demand the University of Rochester to adopt the “UR-Peaceful Investing Initiative” which institutes a peaceful investment policy to the university’s endowment which includes divestment from corporations that manufacturer weapons and profit from war. (For example, the U of R invests in General Dynamics which manufactures weapons to maintain a 41-year occupation of the Palestinian territories and wars which slaughter Palestinian civilians by the 100s)
2. Humanitarian aid: We demand that the University of Rochester commit to a day of fundraising for humanitarian aid in Gaza within the next two weeks, as part of an ongoing commitment to provide financial support for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
3. Academic aid: We demand that the University of Rochester twin with the devastated Gaza University and provide the necessary academic aid (e.g., recycled computers, books, etc. ).
4. Scholarships: We demand that the University of Rochester grant a minimum of five scholarships to Palestinian students every year.
Today [Saturday] at 2pm around 60 people from around Manchester and beyond came to a protest outside the occupied Simon Building in a show of support for us and the struggle of the people of Palestine. Both campaigners outside and students inside spoke on many subjects ranging from the situation in Gaza now, to the experiences we’ve had in our occupation. During the course of the protest a handful of the scores of messages of support we have received from around the world were read out. This included messages from Palestinian students, the UCU union and other students in Britain campaigning for Palestine. Today’s protest was a continuation of the widespread support that we have from all over.
See the students’ blog from inside the occupation for more information, list of demands and upcoming events.
Next to the successful occupation of Strathclyde University, more than a hundred students of the University of Manchester are going into their fourth day of occupying their university in a demand for a stronger and more proactive position from the university on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Over 500 students attended an emergency general meeting of the students union to discuss a motion on the issue. This democratic meeting was sabotaged and ultimately destroyed by pro-Israeli Zionist students who were desperate to shield Israel from criticism and couldn’t stomach the thought of their university helping to stop the suffering in Palestine. These students employed both bureaucratic and thuggish tactics to stop the meeting from taking place. There are countless reports from students who wanted to get in but were physically prevented. When the chair of the meeting refused to hear students’ complaints at the blockade and dissolved the meeting, several hundred students marched on University administration headquarters, the John Owens Building.
– “After being threatened with disciplinary measures by the vice-chancellor the students have decided to continue and expand the occupation of Manchester University.We are now occupying another space at the Simon Building on Oxford Road. ”
– An open letter written by the occupying students has been sent to Vice-Chancellor of the University, Alan Gilbert, who has so far refused to even discuss the students’ demands.
– “We are calling a demonstration outside our building for 2pm tomorrow in support of the people of Palestine and the student occupation in Manchester. We invite all pro-Palestinians to come along and to publicise it.”
Time: Saturday – 07 Feb – 2pm
Location: Outside the Simon Building, Oxford Road, Manchester. Look for the Palestinian flags
For more info and updates, the students have set up a blog and a facebook page from inside the occupation.
Our dear friend Dahr Jamail, winner of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize, is back in Iraq and here are his impressions. He writes, ‘yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004’. As for employment, Dahr reports that the line of work with highest job security is that of the grave digger.
If there is to be any degree of honesty in our communication, we must begin to acknowledge that the lexicon of words that describes the human condition is no longer universally applicable.
I am in Iraq after four years away.
Most Iraqis I talked with on the eve of the first provincial elections being held after 2005 told me “security is better.”
I myself was lulled into a false sense of security upon my arrival a week ago. Indeed, security is “better,” compared to my last trip here, when the number of attacks per month against the occupation forces and Iraqi collaborators used to be around 6,000. Today, we barely have one American soldier being killed every other day and only a score injured weekly. Casualties among Iraqi security forces are just ten times that number.
But yes, one could say security is better if one is clear that it is better in comparison not to downtown Houston but to Fallujah 2004.
The numbers of the dead don’t mean much any more. It was round about the five hundred mark when I realised the impact of death on my mind was lightening. There are pictures on the internet – burning half bodies, a head and torso screaming, corpses spilt in a marketplace like unruly apples, all the tens and tens of babies and children turned to outraged dust – but how many pictures can you keep in your heart? How much anguish can you feel? Enough anguish to mourn 500 human beings? And of what quality can your anguish be? Can it be as intense as the anguish a bystander to the murder would feel? As intense as that of a friend of a victim, or of a father? What about the fathers who have seen all their children burn?
I remember the days when I was outraged if ten were killed in one go. Ah, happy days! Ten in one go would be good. But of course, this is what the enemy wants: the enemy wants us to value Arab life as little as it does. It wants us to stay in our numbness, to descend deeper in. It wants us to forget.