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February 2010
 
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Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 02:50 pm
Citizen student

The photo below (Anja Niedringhaus, AP) shows a classroom in Jebaliya, Gaza. The name cards represent pupils of the Fakhoura School killed by Israeli army shells last month.



But Israel's actions in Gaza have affected classrooms elsewhere. "We are a group of students concerned about the university's continuing support for Israel's actions in Gaza and the West Bank," University of Plymouth students say on their occupation blog, "indicated by the university's investments with BAE Systems who have sold 236 F-16 fighter planes to the Israeli state, and its silence over the recent atrocities and human rights abuses perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip."



"As a result we have occupied room 202 in the Smeaton Building in solidarity with the people of Palestine and to directly protest against the university's complicity in Israeli war crimes.... The occupying students would be keen for lectures to continue in this room without interruption. We are willing for a small group to remain unobtrusively at the back of the room, as a symbolic presence."

Cue obligatory flip references to Citizen Smith, the counter-revolutionary UK sitcom from 1977 in which "a young Marxist urban revolutionary living in Tooting, South London, is attempting to emulate his hero Che Guevara. Wolfie is the self-proclaimed leader of the Tooting Popular Front (in reality a small bunch of his friends) the goals of which are "Power to the People" and "Freedom for Tooting". In reality, he is an unemployed dreamer and petty criminal whose plans fall through due to laziness and disorganisation."

But in this case it isn't just a "small bunch of friends". The UK, over the past month, has seen an extraordinary (and under-reported, though The Guardian did post an article) series of student occupations. There are or have been occupations at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Goldsmiths, Sheffield, the University of East Anglia, Cambridge, Bradford, the London School of Economics, Queen Mary, King's College, SOAS, Byam Shaw and Leeds, each with its own occupation blog (click the links for heartening photos of "revolting students" strumming guitars, preparing vegan food, picketing, pamphleteering and generally acting as if it were 1968 all over again).



Many students have been demanding -- and getting -- scholarships at their universities for Palestinian students; another way classrooms in Gaza and classrooms in the UK are now being linked, and a vindication of the occupations in itself. In some colleges the protests have widened into issues about budget cuts and a streamlined "Education PLC" attitude.

The Gaza shelling may now be over but, as Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports today, many (including Hillary Clinton) are extremely frustrated by the attitude of the Israeli authorities to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza:

"When Senator John Kerry visited the Strip, he learned that many trucks loaded with pasta were not permitted in. When the chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee inquired as to the reason for the delay, he was told by United Nations aid officials that "Israel does not define pasta as part of humanitarian aid - only rice shipments." Kerry asked Barak about the logic behind this restriction, and only after the senior U.S. official's intervention did the defense minister allow the pasta into the Strip. The U.S. senator updated colleagues at the Senate and other senior officials in Washington of the details of his visit.

"The issue of humanitarian aid is central to a major debate between Israel's foreign and defense ministries. The former supports broadening the amount and types of aid, while the defense ministry opposes anything it considers "concessions" to Hamas. A senior source dealing with humanitarian aid issues on the Israeli side said that Gilad has prepared a list of "humanitarian aid items" and refuses to broaden it. "Authority is in the hands of one person, and he is not willing to help," the source said. "This is outrageous. Why should a senior American official issue a protest on pasta in order for us to recognize that we need to allow it into the Gaza Strip?"

104CommentReply

arpad
arpad
Impervious horrors of a leeward shore
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)

Such people like you never worry about classrooms of Sderot that your Palestinian pals shelled for years.

It is time to throw you out of my reading and out of my mind.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)

Is there a place where you can block out not just my voice, but the voice of the current US administration, all aid organisations, the UN, Haaretz, the Pope, and the vast majority of world opinion, Arpad? Is there an iPod loud enough to drown all that out?


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krskrft
krskrft
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)

There have been occupations like this in the US as well (The New School and NYU, most recently). As usual, I appreciate a limited portion of the sentiments expressed at/by these protests, but find myself generally repulsed by the scent of bourgeois tourism and retro necro stylization that permeates them. Like it or not, the "personality" of this type of event is just as important as the causes it takes up, and when 95% of the participants seem to be dabblers there for the adrenaline rush and the sense of self-importance the attention gives them (the New School and NYU "occupations" were widely covered on Gawker and other popular news sites), it really taints the whole operation.


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endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)

In other words, these "protests" are populated by moral criminals.


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beingjdc
beingjdc
A lover of unreason, and an exile
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)

Seems a bit odd - they were getting humanitarian pasta in April 2008.

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2008/Humanitarian+assistance+transferred+to+Gaza+4-Mar-2008.htm


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)

The painfully trendy students at the Edinburgh George Square lecture theatre "occupation" have been keeping themselves occupied with drum circles. Much of their incentive to protest appears to be founded on their own self-image.

Is it fair to effectively blackmail an academic institution into adopting a political position?

Why occupy a lecture theatre and not Holyrood?


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)

Who cares about Gaza. There's way worse going on in the world, and there's only one reason people focus on Israel so much. One reason. Out of all the infinitely more horrifying and unjust things going on in the world, it seems really, really strange why people focus on Israel so much.

Of course there's a very easy explanation. About why people are so concerned with Israel. You don't have to admit it here, and you probably won't admit it to yourself, but just wonder for a minute.


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krskrft
krskrft
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)

Umm, because many of Israel's official actions and stances seem to contradict the historical conditions from which the nation arose?


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Gaza, the fact is that Momus's mild anti-semitism is documented elsewhere on the Net. On this thread, for instance:

http://www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?boardid=40&threadid=26797

Choice Momus quote:
"I like the idea that the Jews are making amends for giving us silly commandments about graven idols"


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 04:18 pm (UTC)

Chosen quote about chosen people indeed! You could also have quoted me, from the same piece, making the very philosemitic statement that "Light comes to benighted Angrael in the form of liberal jews and gays".

Actually, one of the interesting things about the new US administration is that the unit I was calling "Angrael" is cracking up before our eyes. And with it I hope will go this utterly ridiculous meme that you're anti-semitic if you don't support whatever the Israeli government does.


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endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)

It'd probably be good for the "'revolting'" kidz to keep these things in mind as they're breezily and complacently "strumming guitars, preparing vegan food, picketing, pamphleteering and generally acting as if it were 1968 all over again" like so many sentimental Renaissance-Fair attendees:

"Hamas murder campaign in Gaza exposed: Islamist regime has killed dozens and tortured others as 'collaborators' with Israel in war's aftermath, Amnesty and Guardian sources say":

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/13/hamas-gaza-murders-abduction-torture

"Hamas no, human rights yes: Why are the left and the anti-war movement ignoring Hamas's repression of the Palestinian people?"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/feb/18/hamas-palestine-israel-human-rights



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cerulicante
cerulicante
cerulicante
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)

Good sense is anathema to Click Opera. If you've been reading for any length of time, you'd know that already.


Good links, though.


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robinsonner
robinsonner
the maven
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)

This smells to me of a confirmation that The Left is really a middle class enterprise now (if there was ever any doubt). It used to be said that nothing changes until the middle classes take to the streets. The Poll Tax demos being a case in point. When the enemy is not them but us its harder to smear them in the tabloids.
So if the middle classes are using oppressed peoples as political fodder when will they take a look closer to home over the tracks. Maybe if we gave equal opportunity and education to ALL of our citizens we would not have leaderships who perpetrate and support this iniquity on a global level.
Why don't these students come down to the housing schemes and preach rather than parachuting in after their degrees for a few years professional apprenticeship.
There's something poignant about Citizen Smith and his aspirations. I can't remember if he was from further education or just following pop counteculture. His girlfriends father was a hard working man who loathed and mocked him as did elements of the audience for shows like this resulting in a consensus of thinking that yearned for Thatcher. Blair's wife's father was one of these TV lefties.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)

I have to agree with all the other voices on this thread saying that once we start saying some people aren't "pure" enough in motive or pain or gene to protest, it's a slippery slope to schism. I stand by everything I said in Against "hypocrisy".


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)

lol posting from a month ago


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Feb. 25th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)

Um, the Plymouth University occupation only started three days ago, how is this "posting from a month ago"?

Clinton arrives in Israel next Tuesday, and special envoy George Mitchell gets there tomorrow, and "is expected to issue a sharply worded protest" about delays and obstructions by Israel of aid to Gaza. How about "posting from tomorrow" or "posting from next Tuesday"?


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)

Yes, Israel is guilty of being a self-interested nation just like any other, and people are definitely justified in rooting for the underdog Palestinians. The question is: why does Israel always get thrown into the spotlight so much? France and the Netherlands probably commit eve more egregious atrocities than Israel through their foreign and economic policies, but we never hear about that. If an Israeli soldier shoots some Palestinian kid strapped with bombs, people take to the streets for the Palestinian cause in a second.

It doesn't help that whenever some Israeli conflict happens, all the left-leaning papers in England and Europe go on an anti-semitic tirade. So, it's also not completely unreasonable to assume other Europeans who take stances against Israel are just as anti-semitic as their countrymen because anti-semitism is so endemic and natural to Europe. Because you have to admit, some of those articles in the Guardian and the Spiegel push the line a little.

There's a reason 99% of the Jews in the world live in the US and Israel, yet having spent most of their culture's existence everywhere but either of those places. I am by no means a booster for Israel, but being knee-deep in Lefty Land I have to hear all this "poor Palestinians!" crap daily.


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krskrft
krskrft
Thu, Feb. 26th, 2009 01:56 am (UTC)

As I said further up, much of the US criticism of Israel stems from the fact that they are receive more foreign aid from us than does any other country (in fact, more than many other countries combined). We have a perfectly justifiable interest in focusing on the actions of Israel more than the actions of other nation-states because our investment in Israel compels us to do so.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Mar. 21st, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)

I am sorry after all this years i tought that Momus was an inteligent person due to its musics but now i find it's lyrics are a fake just for the sake of appearing inteligent.

I guess it didn't occured to you that the fact that children die is that Palestinian combatants don't follow Geneva Convention: Uniform and military marks.

So explain to me, why Israelis or any other country have to care more for Palestinians than the representatives of Palestinians?


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Mar. 23rd, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
read this

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7960071.stm


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