- Students across Britain in Day of Action on 17th February to demand universities end complicity in Israeli apartheid.
- Action takes place in context of Israel’s newly elected far right Government intensifying oppression of Palestinians
- Day of action has also been called in response to efforts by the UK Government to repress the right to protest
On Friday 17th February students across Britain are taking action to show they stand in solidarity with Palestinians and to continue the campaign for universities to divest fully from companies that are complicit in Israel’s system of apartheid. The Day of Action comes in the context of record levels of Israeli violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the election of a new far-right Israeli government committed to further annexation and strengthening of apartheid state practices.
In the UK students face several attempts to discourage or prevent solidarity activism for Palestinian liberation. The Government is threatening to bring in a law to stop public bodies like universities from divesting from companies involved in the violations of international law and human rights abuses, unless the Government itself has imposed sanctions. The Government has framed the bill as a specific targeting of actions by public bodies to divest from companies complicit in violation of Palestinian rights. More than 60 civil society organisations are opposing this proposal as a broad threat to democratic rights of social and political campaigning in support of ethical investment policies.
Last year the then-Education Secretary urged universities to report students who call for Palestinian liberation “from the river to the sea” to the police, a draconian response based on mischaracterisation of the slogan, which reinforces the right of all Palestinians to freedom, equality and justice.
The government also pressured the National Union of Students (NUS) to launch an investigation into antisemitism in higher education last year. The report authored by Rebecca Tuck KC was published in January 2023 and caused deep concern to Palestine campaigners by conflating antisemitism with legitimate critique of Israeli oppression.
Despite these attempts to silence or chill student activism, Palestinian societies across Britain will be holding meetings, protests, stalls, talks and film screenings to reiterate their calls to Free Palestine!
Stella Swain, PSC Youth and Student Campaigns Officer says, “Students have always been at the forefront of movements for change, and the government is cracking down on their ability to organise because it realises this power and is afraid. Today, students are coming together to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation, and to demand that their universities divest from Israeli apartheid.”
Notes for editors:
- UN Special Rapporteurs condemn record Israeli violence in occupied West Bank https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/12/israel-un-experts-condemn-record-year-israeli-violence-occupied-west-bank-0
- Organisations campaigning for Right to Boycott include Liberty. Greenpeace, CND, Friends of the Earth, Muslim Association of Britain, National Union of Students, and 11 Trade Unions representing millions of workers. See https://righttoboycott.org.uk/
- PSC statement on Rebecca Tuck KC Report into NUS antisemitism is here https://palestinecampaign.org/statement-on-investigation-into-antisemitism-in-the-nus/