Open letter from Palestinian students in Gaza
'We call on you to get involved in Israeli Apartheid Week'
March 8, 2017
Besieged Gaza, Occupied, Palestine
Call from Gaza: Get involved in Israeli Apartheid Week this Year
We are writing to you, students of the world, as students from the besieged Gaza Strip whose entire educational system has been crippled as a result of Israel’s ten-year long and ongoing blockade. We call on you to get involved in Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) this year and grow the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on your campuses. We gain hope from ongoing campaigning for justice in Palestine on UK campuses such as the magnificent BDS victory and show of support from the University of Manchester students union and the Divest for Palestine campaign calling on universities to divest from companies complicit in crimes against the Palestinian people.
We are dismayed by the recent actions of the University of Central Lancashire, capitulating to pressure to cancel IAW, a direct move to shut down and dehumanize Palestinian voices and narratives. But, even with the intensification of Israeli propaganda that serves to whitewash Israel’s brutal occupation and apartheid policies against us, with courage and persistence they can be overcome.
Most of us in Gaza, one of the most crowded places on the planet, are deprived of our freedom of movement – we can no longer see our family and friends in the West Bank, or Jerusalem, to return to our lands and homes from where most of us from Gaza were expelled by the nascent Israeli army. As students in Gaza we are not allowed to join any West Bank based university! the Israeli blockade denied us basic necessities including school textbooks, and those we had we would be reading through candle light with the imposed electricity cuts for many hours each day – up to 18 hours for many families.
As if the daily life and control is not enough, massive war crimes were committed against us during the Israeli massacre of 2014 when the Israeli F16s, Merkava Tanks, Elbit Drones and Gunships, which permanently dominate our skies and horizons, murdered over 550 of our children in 51 days. Over 2200 of us were killed, 12000 injured and the siege that continued afterward meant that many needlessly lost their lives since then from injuries and illness. In that time Israeli Occupation Forces bombed over 62 hospitals and clinics, 45 ambulances and 250 Palestinian schools. As Israel denies us concrete through the blockade, most of the 100,000 made homeless have still not had their homes rebuilt. The latest United Nations report on the humanitarian situation here says that Gaza will be “unliveable” by 2020. We don’t have to wait until 2020, Gaza, in fact, is unlivable now!
Inspired by the Anti-Apartheid struggle, our call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), backed by the overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society, has been a lightning rod for others who can relate to our plight. Each university that boycotts and/or divests from Israel’s apartheid regime and those that are complicit or profit from it, is standing on the right side of history, just as students played a huge role in boycotting South Africa’s similarly racist apartheid regime until it fell in 1994.
If corrupt governments and official bodies have turned their back on us, we expect support from our peers and conscientious people such as yourselves. Our demands are only to have the same rights as any other student, any other woman, man or child. We want to have our basic rights guaranteed under international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!
This year it is in your hands to see that the tide finally turns across campuses in Europe, the US and around the world. Go further to make this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week as strong and well attended as you possibly can, and use it as a platform for building the BDS movement. No matter what you face, take courage from us and we will take hope from you. You, more than anyone are in a position to act, so let the truth of justice roar across your campus and beyond.
Palestinian Students Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
First published in Mondoweiss
Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.