The first day of true occupation…

We’ve come to a close for our first full day of the sit-in… and it’s been a long one! We started the day with a confirmation from our security that all the lectures for the day had been moved from the room we are occupying. This gave us free rein over the room for the day, but had the negative effect of irritating fellow students (especially when the lectures were moved far) and isolating our action. Security’s reluctance to give us the relocated rooms until just before the hours the lectures were starting also created a minor problem, but we got used to it.

During the day we had more and more people convening in our room and asking what was going on. We had an awesome bring-and-share solidarity lunch, made some good new banners for the walls and wrote a few solidarity letters, and had an interesting discussion upon some allegations of anti-Semitism – this also led to a realisation that we need to focus even more on improving our media presence to other Warwick-ers, and should work on increasing solidarity within our community as well as nationally.

As for the evening, along with sending a delegate to a local Stop The War meeting, we also ran our own talks from 3:15 til around 10 or 11. A brief summary:

  • Gerd Rainer Horn: noted that economic depression generally causes an increase in radicalism – what we need to do is make sure it doesn’t go to the extreme right! Also suggested that we try to create links with European radicalism
  • Naomi Eilan (Director of Graduate Studies, Philosophy and edited some of the first journals out of the West Bank) led a discussion on Israeli policy and militarism. Bigged up the film “Waltzing with Bashir” as the epitome of cognitive dissonance in Israeli society. Outlined what her three priorities are: (a) be in touch with, and help out, (especially medical) aid groups (b) call for the opening of negotiations with Hamas (c) get in contact with the very large network of Israeli human rights. Noted the impact of conscription (with regular jail-time for dissenters) to the Israeli attitude, and its contribution to their thick-skinnedness about the conflict – they know the facts, but there is no congruence between the facts and their votes or actions… due to fear, they feel threatened into “defence”
  • Barnaby’s uber arms trade talk on the links that Warwick specifically has with arms companies, and about general arguments about the UK arms trade
  • Mas Naiam (SOAS) talked about the prospect of twinning with other universities, in the sense of trans-national links between unions over official twinning. Enforces commitment to the basic right to education e.g. with losses of science buildings and entire libraries. Students can be stopped at check points for 2 or 3 hours, which obviously causes havoc with lectures etc… can make 3 year degrees last between 5 and 8 years
  • Yael Khan: set up Islington Friends of Yibna. Said how trucks going into Gaza went from 500 per day to 5 – comparable levels that the Nazis allowed into the Warsaw ghetto. Awesome presentation, lots of background info about the Israeli destruction of refugee camps, on legal challenges to Israel’s occupation, and on their brutal policy specifically targetting civilians. Demonstrations supporting them were the only hope a lot of people in Yibna had.,
  • Naeem (PSC): talking about the situation on the ground, and attempts to get solidarity with your council. The proportion of refugees in Palestine is much higher than the proportion in South Africa, and it gives a basis for pushing Israel as a pariah state. David Miliband accused the PSC of anti-Semitism, but the Palestinians are a Semitic people (Isaac and Ishmael were brothers!). Emphasised that we need a multi-pronged attack, at all levels of society, about the Israeli occupation policy – letters, war crime tribunals, reinforce solidarity links with the Palestinians, fairer Palestine correspondence from the BBC and others, local council and union policies. Called for a general Israeli boycott similar to the one that brought down apartheid.
  • Joe Lee (ISM): talk on the historical context of the Israeli occupation, on “Zionist myths”, and on the impact that has on the current situation. Talks about how Israel’s policy has always been essentially Zionist, in the sense of explicitly aiming to displace the Palestinians from what is now the Occupied Territories. Notes that the Palestinians (in this case, represented by Hamas) aren’t rejectionist like they’re portrayed in the Western media. Heated debate afterwards!

We have the presentations from both Joe Lee and Mas’ talks – if people are interested, please just contact us.

Tomorrow, the focus is on (a) publicity (b) researching the possibility of other demands (c) making the university take notice of our action. Solidarity, and good night x

P.S. to all those that sent us solidarity messages today – thank you so much! We really feel like we’re part of something bigger here…

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3 Responses to “The first day of true occupation…”

  1. Karl Says:

    Apparently Bristol are occupying the university Library

  2. Beth Says:

    Hi Karl,
    Do you have any details?
    I happen to be travelling to Bristol for the weekend anyway – I’ve been at the Warwick occupation so would love to visit and meet the Bristol lot to see how they’re doing
    please get back to me with any info!
    Beth x

  3. Karl Says:

    I don’t have any details, all I got was this from http://occupations.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=news&action=display&thread=2 – a board set up by Leeds uni.

    It says ‘What about Bristol, they’re occupying the University library’

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