Today, members of Auckland University Students for Justice in Palestine demonstrated outside the AUSA house to highlight the student union’s complicity in israeli apartheid. Since the recent bombardment of Gaza and the ongoing regime of genocide and settler colonialism have further displaced Palestinian families from their homes, SJP have been pushing our student union to endorse Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions (BDS).
Students sprinkled white flour to symbolise white phosphorus that has been continuously used on Palestinians during israeli incursions. White phosphorus is a chemical that eats through skin, flesh and to the bone. The New Zealand Super(annuation) fund has investments in israel Chemicals which produces this white phosphorus. We want to draw attention to New Zealand’s complicity in israel’s settler colonial violence within public institutions such as the University of Auckland. We need to take action to divest from such companies as we are all currently complicit in israeli war crimes and subsequent Palestinian suffering.
Students and academic staff spoke of their support for the BDS campaign and the university’s complicity and tacit support for Israel’s colonial violence in Palestine. Three days ago, a 5 year old Palestinian girl died after she and another girl were deliberately run over by settlers in the West Bank. There are over 500,000 israelis living in settlements in the occupied West Bank in contravention of International Law which states it is illegal for them to do so under the Geneva Convention. The number of settlers is growing and this ongoing settler colonialism continues to suffocate the occupied and already smothered Palestinian people of the West Bank. These crucial and fundamental human rights issues can only be dealt with through endorsing and supporting the BDS movement and as students we would like that to start on campus. AUSA should follow suit the countless student unions all over the world who have taken initiative to pass motions and endorse BDS on their campus.
On 20th August, a motion was passed at student forum requesting AUSA to support the BDS campaign, and especially take a stand on an academic boycott of Israeli institutions until: Israel withdraws from all the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; removes all its colonies in those lands; agrees to United Nations resolutions relevant to the restitution of Palestinian refugees rights; and dismantles its system of apartheid.
The executive members provided a statement for not passing this motion. The given statement shows disdain and disregard towards student’s democracy and the Palestinian people living under an illegal occupation, and for those in Gaza, a siege. The BDS motion was passed and on a separate date defended from being overturned. In contrast the executives at AUSA held their meetings in private. AUSA claim that “Student Forum does not give us any real indication of the views of the student body at large”. Yet we are supposed to accept that this series of secret meetings do?
The public debate at student forum was and is the most reliable measure of student attitude towards BDS. AUSA are suggesting that they are more representative of students than students themselves. They claim to be “reluctant to speak on behalf of students without sufficient information.” AUSA have already spoken on behalf of students. On issues of genocide and apartheid, silence and neutrality equals complicity. AUSA has “come down on one side of the conflict”. AUSA has come down on the side of colonialism, genocide, house demolitions, illegal sieges, the militarisation of academia and the side of apartheid. AUSA has sided with Israel. By refusing to condemn the causes of violence against Palestinians’ they tacitly condone it.