Student Activism and Change in the Real World

by SU Ahmad and Z Rahim

With just days before the UK Viva Palestina convoy is due to arrive in Gaza, we look back at the remarkable recent history of activism at King’s College London (KCL).

On 18 November 2008, the Israeli President Shimon Peres was awarded an honorary doctorate by KCL, a move which sparked outrage amongst students of the college, and saw the beginning of a student movement for its revocation.

“Why the big fuss about the Israeli President?” many asked. Shimon Peres has to his name the sale of arms to the apartheid regime in South Africa and the bombing (twice) of the UN headquarters in Qana. He has directed various Israeli invasions of Lebanon, saw through the 1985 bombing of Tunis, and continues to support Israel’s murderous policies towards the Palestinians, sharing much of the blame for why Gaza has been described as  “the largest open air prison” on the planet by major Human rights agencies, UN and Vatican officials. He is also the father of Israel’s nuclear bomb. These are but a few of the highlights of Mr. Peres’s career. Both students and several members of staff felt that by honouring someone who is essentially a war criminal, KCL had dishonoured its own good name. A college-wide petition with close to a thousand signatures calling for the revocation of the doctorate was handed to the College’s Principal Professor, Rick Trainor.

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