Socialist Worker

A revival of student militancy over Gaza

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2135

Part of the 250-strong student march at Edinburgh university last week (Pic: Jonathan Shafi)

Part of the 250-strong student march at Edinburgh university last week (Pic: Jonathan Shafi)

A mood of militancy and radicalism is sweeping Britain’s campuses following Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Mass demonstrations and rallies, as well as occupations, are taking place as growing numbers of students become radicalised.

In Edinburgh, over 250 students marched through the campus on Thursday of last week in a demonstration that was called at just three days notice.

Student Stop the War groups are reporting some of the biggest organising meetings on campus for years.

When the department of education issued guidelines for lecturers to spy on Muslim students in 2006, many politically active Muslims retreated from activity.

The movement against Israel’s attack on Gaza has changed that.


The past week has seen students occupy in solidarity with the Palestinians in the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), the London School of Economics (LSE) and at King’s College in London, and Birmingham and Essex universities.

Around 200 students at Soas passed a motion condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza and calling on students to demonstrate at a general meeting on Tuesday of last week.

On the same day, the Ministry of Defence had set up an exhibition on campus promoting the role of black and Asian soldiers in the British armed forces.

The students occupied the space in protest against the pro-military exhibition and drew up a list of demands, including its removal and that the space could be used instead for students to hold political meetings.

They won all of their demands.

Down the road at LSE, around 750 students packed into a union general meeting on Thursday of last week to debate whether the union should condemn Israel’s actions.

Pro-Palestinian students won the argument, and went on to occupy the stage in the main lecture theatre in protest at Israel’s attack.

They are demanding fully paid scholarships for students from Gaza, that the LSE sends books and computers to Gaza and that it disinvests from BAE systems – a company that sells weaponry to the Israeli army.

The students have held political meetings every day during the occupation, which has also helped to publicise the action to other students.


Around 300 students packed a lecture theatre on Friday to hear Stop the War Coalition president Tony Benn and Alex Callinicos, author of New Mandarins of American Power, speak on Gaza and the international resistance to imperialism.

The occupation was continuing as Socialist Worker went to press.

Meanwhile, students at Essex University held an anti-imperialist day of action on Friday of last week.

They held meetings and over 200 took part in a demonstration that blockaded the library.

A meeting of 55 voted unanimously for occupation and occupied a lecture theatre for several days.

Local school and college students came to the occupation to show solidarity.

The radicalisation is spreading.

Around 40 students at Kings College in London went into occupation on Tuesday of this week to demand that the college repeals an honorary doctorate that it gave to Shimon Peres, former Israeli prime minister.

The student movement is bringing new people into the movement and shows that mass action can win.

Occupation blogs

Soas »


Essex »

Kings »

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