By Thomas Foster
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Student encampments for Palestine spread to 25 universities

Students everywhere should take action on Wednesday
Issue 2905
Students and tents on grassed area. Banner reads "Hands off Rafah"

The encampment at Queen Mary University of London began on Monday (Picture: Dave Gilchrist)

The determination to take action for Palestine is spreading.

There are now 25 encampments—where students set up tents outside their institution and disrupt normal campus life—at universities. They include Aberdeen, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Durham, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Cambridge, Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, Bangor, Birmingham, Oxford, Bristol, Soas, UCL, KCL, Queen Mary University of London, Swansea, Kent, Nottingham, Lincoln, Warwick and Sussex.

On Monday around 50 students and university workers joined a coordinating call for the day of action this Wednesday—Nakba Day. They discussed how to escalate their actions and pull in broader forces to the encampments set up in solidarity with Gaza.

Issy from the Leeds encampment said, “The student movement has changed us as people. One of our walkouts last term led to a 15-day occupation. This resulted in a meeting with management, the first we had achieved.”

“We were only able to achieve this through the support of the wider student coalition, and through the campus unions, such as the UCU branch at our university.”

Issy argued that students are often “the most radical wing of the movement, so we need to push the movement for Palestine to its most radical conclusion to pressure both universities and the government”.

“On Nakba day we need to be escalating. We need more mass action on campus,” she said 

“If we want to win our demands then we need to be prepared to shut down universities with students and staff working together. Encampments are a place to escalate.” 

A member of the Cambridge UCU union branch said that staff at Cambridge have “initiated an open letter for people to sign as a commitment to the principles of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions”.

Currently the open letter has over “400 staff, 1,000 students and 900 former students signed up to it”.

“We have to lay he basis for further organising and make this movement into something for the long-term, into a powerful platform to continue to mobilise,” she said.

Yasmin, from Palestine Youth Movement, argued, “It’s important to see this as a moment of mobilisation and laying groundwork for a long-term movement. We need to be building student and staff power on campus.

“Encampments are a useful tactic but they are just that. Encampments are not the end goal of what we are trying to do.

“We need to connect the encampments to the wider movement and a strategy of escalation and disruption. That is a strategy that will make our demands achievable.”

Liam, a student in the Edinburgh encampment, said, “The encampments need to be launch pads for action, to escalate and bring ideas forward into practice.

“The only way any university will concede to our demands is by creating a crisis on campus. We need to use the encampments to detonate wider action against arms companies and the government, calling for the end of all arms sales to Israel.”


Get involved!

WEDNESDAY 15 MAY

Workplace and student day of action. Details here and here

SATURDAY 18 MAY

London: Assemble 12 noon, BBC Portland Place for march to Whitehall, London. Details here or share at tinyurl.com/Nakba1805

The coalition organising the national marches has confirmed another national demonstration to mark the anniversary of the Nakba when Zionist settlers and militias forced at least 800,000 Palestinians off their land to make way for the Israeli state. It will also step up demands for an end to the genocide and to the arming of Israel. 

Edinburgh: Assemble 1pm, Waverley Bridge, EH1 1BQ 

Cardiff: Assemble 1pm, Nye Bevan statue, Queen Street, CF10 2AF

SATURDAY 8 JUNE

Stop the War trade union conference

10 am-4.30pm, Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA. Details tinyurl.com/STWconf0806

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