Auckland protest against Israeli aggression in Gaza: 2pm, Saturday 17th November, Aotea Square

Auckland University Students for Justice in Palestine deeply condemn the vicious attacks by the Israeli Defence Force on innocent civilians in the Gaza strip, which so far lead to 19 deaths and over 150 casualties.

The Israeli government has launched the most violent assault on Gaza since 2009, and threatens to escalate its attack into a full-scale invasion. Since yesterday, more than 70 aerial strikes have been carried out by Israel, and are still continuing.

A statement from the United States Government expressed, in no uncertain terms, its full support for Israel’s so called “Pillar of Defence” assault on Gaza, instead condemning Hamas’ actions as terrorism, without a hint of irony.

The Gaza Strip has been under continuous land, air and sea blockade since June 2007, largely in response to a democratically elected Hamas taking over government. Access to medical supplies, building materials and humanitarian aid have been refused by Israel, and the Strip has been effectively isolated from the outside world.

In 2008, Israel launched a three-week military invasion of Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 1400 Palestinian civilians. The IDF bombed schools, UN buildings and hospitals, and extensively deployed illegal white phosphorous bombs, in blatant breach of international law.

Since then, ongoing weekly bombings of various civilian sites have become commonplace for the people of Gaza, who continue to be denied access to basic supplies to rebuild their homes. A UN report released this year says the Gaza Strip will become unliveable by 2020.

While SJP does not support any political groups and condemns any attack on civilian targets from both sides, we maintain that the indiscriminate, disproportionate force of the Israeli army is a clear breach of international law, and the mass killings of 2009 must not be allowed to recur. More importantly, the international community cannot stand by in silence as innocent lives continue to be lost.

We are calling on the New Zealand Government to join an international voice against the illegal bombing of the Gaza Strip, and to send a stern message to the Israeli government that its continued aggression against Gaza will not be tolerated.

A rally will gather in Aotea Square on Saturday 17th November at 2pm in a show of solidarity with the people of Gaza, and to condemn the actions of the Israeli regime, and US complacency in them. We invite everyone to come along and show support.

The rally has been called by Global Peace and Justice and is supported by Kia Ora Gaza, Palestine Human Rights Campaign and Students for Justice in Palestine.

More information here:
http://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/auckland-protest-israels-invasion-of-gaza-saturday/
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1211/S00224/protest-against-israeli-strikes-on-gaza.htm

Facebook event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/508976275794311/

Worldwide protests against Israeli aggression in Gaza:
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/worldwide-protests-against-israeli-aggression-in-gaza.html

Bits and pieces in Craccum regarding the student forum and the AUSA president’s trip to israel

The AUSA president’s first article following her trip to Israel and our private consultation with her in which we expressed our opposition and concerns: http://craccum.ausa.auckland.ac.nz/?p=1837

Our response to her article: http://craccum.ausa.auckland.ac.nz/?p=2031

The AUSA president’s apology following the student forum in which our motions against her trip were passed and she was censured and instructed to apologize: http://craccum.ausa.auckland.ac.nz/?p=2166

Student forum regarding the AUSA president’s trip to israel

On Wednesday September 12th SJP put through three motions at a student forum against the Auckland University Student Association president Arena William’s trip to Israel. The motions were all passed at the student forum and subsequently accepted and approved by the AUSA executive the following week after the forum. Arena Williams was officially censured and instructed to apologize for the offense she had caused to students. This sent a clear and direct message to the greater student body. AUSA is now in the process of putting together a consultation process in regards to anything in relation to Israel/Palestine on campus, in light of our motions, and in order to make sure all stakeholders are informed beforehand.

The motions are as follows:

  1. That AUSA censure President Arena Williams for failing to consult with students with regards to her trip to Israel, a previously declared highly contentious issue.
  2. That AUSA instruct President Arena Williams to apologize in writing for the offense she has caused to students due to her trip to Israel.
  3. That future AUSA Presidents consult the student body with regards to future foreign policy stances and trips to other countries which are deemed by AUSA as a ‘contentious issue’.

These were the principles and responsibilities that were vindicated at the forum. The latter sent a clear message that most students, those of us who actually participate in public debate and discussion and who are ready to make a moral and political stand, were not satisfied to sit by and allow an unresponsive leadership to do as it pleases. We made it clear that solidarity and critical thinking still holds sway at the University of Auckland. We are the students who have been thinking, organising, and fighting for years. We are the students who see education and the university not as some commodity that is only worth what we pay for it, but as a basic and moral necessity. We are the students who see colonialism and capitalism not as some innocuous and regrettable, yet ultimately acceptable, accidents of history, but as reprehensible and inexcusable monstrosities that must be fought and destroyed by any means necessary.

We suffer no illusions. The wretched of the earth, from those in Gaza to those in Harlem, from those in Kabul to those in the East End, will enjoy no reprieve or respite from our efforts. However, we also suffer no apathy. We do not wage our struggles for what we may achieve, nor do we fight for benefit or gain. We do so because it is our unconditional and unrequited responsibility. To those who foolishly believe that the many occasions of protest were simply displays of stubborn petulance, who think that we will simply tire away under their tirade of discouragement and doubt-mongering, who think that we will simply follow their lead and abandon any sense of justice and moral sensibility: think again. We will continue in the struggle against ignorance, apathy, and authority. We will continue to agitate, disrupt, and intervene. We will continue to fight and resist; to fight and persist.

STOP THE NORMALISATION OF ISRAELI OCCUPATION AT A CAMPUS NEAR YOU

“Each generation, must out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it” –Frantz Fanon

For 56 days in July, August and September, New Zealanders were divided in the biggest civil unrest since the 1951 waterfront dispute. It is inconceivable to believe for many, that the cause of unrest was the arrival of the South African Springbok rugby team on the shores of our country. Today, New Zealanders remember the 1980’s protests at a symbolic moment in the history of Aotearoa, a moment where our nation for the very first time, had lost its innocence. Every day the country’s teachers, mothers, students, workers, farmers and many more, answered the call of the boycott movement and took to the streets in response to Apartheid South Africa and the Springbok Rugby tour of New Zealand. Today, that same call has been made by Palestinian civil society, and is heard on a global scale for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel.  We, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), answer this call and stand together in solidarity with the indigenous people of Palestine who are subject to occupation, ethnic cleansing and governed by a South-African-inspired apartheid racist system of dehumanisation.

The integrity and the veracity of this University was recently threatened by the very person who swore to uphold them: AUSA’s president, Arena Williams.  Through a concealed and copiously funded trip to the Middle East, Williams accepted an offer to visit Israel. Our AUSA president took a tour of the apartheid state visiting bomb shelters in Sderot, posing for photographs with so-called Israeli peace negotiators and their foreign ministers. While our AUSA president insists that this visit to Israel was done within her own personal capacity, the question still remains: just what message is AUSA sending its students when its president is visiting a country that is facing heated political criticism by academics, lawyers, politicians and student bodies internationally? And what exactly does this trip reflect in regards to AUSA’s policies? In our eyes it reflects a serious biasness for the Israeli view and one that is detrimental to the Palestinian BDS movement.  Ignoring the international boycott movement which has been recognised by much of the International community, universities throughout the world,  our AUSA president proceeded to visit the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, settlements which have categorised as ‘illegal’ under International law, and even by the United States.  While other universities around the world such as the Johannesburg University in South Africa as well as various student unions all across Europe have implemented BDS in their manifestos, our University however continues to betray its own heritage of social justice 31 years ago wherein it stood firm against Apartheid South Africa.

When undertaking her presidency, our AUSA president declared to this University that she has a responsibility to students and as a student organization we have demanded answers. Let us flip the situation:  if this article was taking the opposing route and exposing our AUSA president’s recent trip to Palestine that was fully funded by Hamas, it would have provoked serious disapproval if not outrage from particular student political circles. We feel that an example needs to be made out of our current AUSA president to ensure that this indiscretion on her part does not occur again in the near future with anyone who is endeavouring to be president of AUSA. All affiliated clubs on campus must be respected and fully consulted with when such issues arise and especially given that this is such a contentious one. For this we were not.

SJP exists to articulate and represent the aspirations of Palestinians and be a voice for them in an Israeli-dominated media and political environment.  We do not see this issue as one sided and defend Palestine with the full force of historical precedenets, truths and international law.  Had our AUSA president returned from her trip and spoken on the atrocities commited by Israel, then it could be said that such a trip would have had some fundamental value in the overall picture; however, this organization finds her stance on the plight of the Palestinian people as an insult to us all as well as an insult to the international community of students, lecturers, human rights groups, and broader civil society calling for social justice.

Our AUSA president labelled the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a ‘war’ and gave the illusion that the two opposing sides are standing on an equal footing when it is in fact not equal at all. The technological and military disparity between the two and the political capital that Israel has held historically problematises the use of the term ‘war’ here. If the president claims that isolating Israel achieves little, well then we ask what her trip has achieved? How has she helped to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians? How has failing to describe the settlements in the West Bank as illegal helped Palestinians in their fundamental struggle to be recognised as a people who are facing an occupation? Having support from powerful nations in the EU and the U.S. certainly does not suggest Israel is isolated.  It is because Israel can act with impunity that Palestinian civil society has resorted to calling on the international community to apply pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land and to meet its international legal obligations. The international boycotting of Apartheid South Africa was a salient factor in the destruction of its racist segregation system. Our president stated that there are ‘complexities surrounding the conflict’, but painting the current occupation as ‘too complex’ only intentionally obfuscates an issue that is perfectly understandable. This only masks the otherwise visible injustices that Palestinians are facing on a daily basis.  Furthermore, it also prevents just solutions which are conveniently in line with the Israeli position. It was disappointing to read all of these misleading statements and more in our AUSA president’s article in Craccum explaining her position. Our president, who should at the very least be maintaining a neutral position on the issue in respect to all groups on campus, has rather published a statement that reads like an Israeli briefing report.

We owe it to ourselves and to our proud nation’s history to stand up and say NO to Israeli apartheid and NO to the normalisation of Israeli occupation. We as a student body must work towards actively implementing BDS through education, action and collaboration. Hasbara trips to the Zionist entity do not fall under any of these categories. 

Students for Justice in Palestine.