| A student adjusts a sign at an encampment on the grounds of Newcastle University protesting against the war in Gaza May 2 2024 | MR Online A student adjusts a sign at an encampment on the grounds of Newcastle University, protesting against the war in Gaza, May 2, 2024.

Students’ Gaza protests spread across Britain

Originally published: Morning Star Online on May 2, 2024 by Ceren Sagir (more by Morning Star Online)  | (Posted May 04, 2024)

THOUSANDS of pro-Palestine students across Britain are mobilising at their universities to demand an end to “complicity in Israel’s genocide” following violent demonstrations across U.S. campuses.

Students in Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield and Bristol have joined peers in Warwick by pitching tents outside university buildings in protest against the war in Gaza.

Bristol students said they were golding the action “in protest of the university’s complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians,” while Apartheid Off Campus Newcastle said its own action was to “highlight the institution’s investment strategy and its complicity in the Israeli military’s war crimes.”

Student activists elsewhere have also held marches and protests.

The camp at Warwick University has been set up in the piazza for a week.

The groups have called on their universities to divest from Israel amid its bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Supporters are invited to donate food, drinks and hygiene products to the camp.

Hundreds of student protesters across 30 campuses in the U.S. have been violently arrested by police following weeks-long actions, with video footage circulated online showing officers in riot gear slamming protesters to the ground and stamping on their backs.

The University of California, Los Angeles, encampment was worst hit after it was attacked by counter-protesters on Tuesday evening, leaving 15 people injured.

The encampments have spread internationally, including in Canada’s Toronto, British Columbia and Montana, as well as Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in Australia.

Research by Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) for its “Apartheid Off Campus” campaign shows that universities in Britain have investments of nearly £430 million in companies which support Israel.

Many universities also have academic partnerships with Israeli universities that are deeply involved in Israeli military technology and the occupation of Palestinian territory.

At the Sheffield University camp, student Ali Jacques said:

We’ve assembled as a united front of students, staff and alumni at universities in Sheffield to protest both the genocidal campaign undertaken by the Israeli state and our institution’s complicity in it.

He said the students have three demands: divest, boycott and accountability.

Mr Jacques said:

We call on the University of Sheffield to divest from weapons manufacturing.

The university should not be aiding in supplying instruments of warfare to a genocidal state.

We demand that the institution sever all ties to Israeli universities as well as Israeli-affiliated technology manufacturers which are used to heavily surveil Palestinians and students here in Sheffield.

We demand a boycott of these institutions, which are entangled in the violent machinery of Palestinian dispossession, occupation, incarceration, siege and most recently genocide.

We hold the University of Sheffield accountable for their complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people.

The campus community demands that the university agree to a meeting with students and staff.

He said the global occupations were vital, adding:

Students all over the world are unified in one voice, and that voice is crying out for the Palestinians.

PSC director Ben Jamal said:

Students have been at the forefront of many progressive campaigns, from the civil rights and Vietnam war era to the present moment, in which Israel is conducting a genocide in front of our eyes.

We cannot allow that to happen with the complicity of British universities which are investing in the companies that supply Israel’s genocidal violence.

He said that students have been forced into action as universities have “become a repressive environment” for Palestinians and supports, with encouragement by the government.

“We salute all those students taking a stand and demanding an end to UK complicity,” he said.

They have the moral clarity and ethical principles so lacking in our university administrators and political leaders.

National Women Against Pit Closures (WAPC) secretary Heather Wood compared the student camps to those established by women from mining communities during the Tories’ run-down of the coalmining industry in the 1990s.

She visited the Newcastle student camp today saying the students were “so organised, welcoming and knowledgeable.”

“It’s so good to see the next generation standing up. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.

Democracy for the Arab World Now’s Sarah Leah Whitson said: “The use of city police to dismantle peaceful protests on college campuses in the United States, coupled with proposed legislation to punish Americans for criticising Israel, is a dangerous assault on our democracy and a sign of the very creeping authoritarianism infecting so much of the world.

The Biden administration has been a shameful accomplice in sacrificing American free speech and civil society at the altar of Israeli interests and demands.

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.