PSC sends its solidarity and congratulations to the student activists at Warwick who have ended their 30-day occupation – initiated in response to a former IDF colonel speaking on campus – after the Students’ Union responded to all of their demands.
Warwick Occupy (the student collective) began their occupation on 19th November after students protested a talk on campus by Eyal Dror, a former Colonel of the Israeli Defense Forces, which was co-hosted by the pro-Israel organisation StandWithUs. The talk took place in the same week that Israel killed dozens of Palestinian civilians in a bombing assault on Gaza.
In their occupation demands, Warwick Occupy called for a review of the External Speaker Policy as well as for action to be taken to tackle institutional racism. After 30 days of occupying, the Students’ Union has released a statement in which it explicitly recognises the significant distress that Eyal Dror’s presence caused to Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students, and apologises unreservedly for its failure to respond to the concerns of these students. The SU has also committed to a review of the External Speaker Policy as demanded by the student activists.
This outcome represents a win for the campaign for Palestinian rights on UK university campuses. By taking a stand against the presence of a war criminal on their campus, these students have shone a light on how UK universities are complicit in the normalisation of Israeli apartheid and the disregarding of the rights of Palestinians including Palestinian students on campus.
The complicity of UK universities in the oppression of the Palestinian people is not just limited to who they are welcoming onto campuses. PSC recently published a database of UK universities’ financial investments which found that the sector invests an estimated £450 million in companies complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses. Through this investment, UK universities are propping up a system of racism, occupation and apartheid.
But students across the UK are fighting back against this complicity in all its forms.
We commend the Warwick students for forcing acknowledgement and action on this vital issue. Whilst the Students’ Union has given a full response to all of Warwick Occupy’s demands, we note that the demands to the university are as yet unmet. We extend our full support and solidarity to the student activists who will now be turning their attention to holding the University to account for its role in legitimising Israeli apartheid and perpetuating institutional racism.
We know that students at Warwick and beyond will continue to set an example of what anti-racist campaigning looks like, and will not back down until we get #ApartheidOffCampus.