Victory in Manchester

When you will enter the Steve Biko students union Building at the University of Manchester, you will find a new plaque that reads:

Palestine and the Right to Education

The University of Manchester Students' Union is twinned with the Al-Najah National University in Nablus. Students in Palestine have had their right to education consistently denied by the Israeli Occupation: checkpoints, attacks on Universities and limitations on movement seriously hinder the ability of students in Palestine to learn. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that everyone has the 'right to education': we fully support the struggle of our Palestinian brothers and sisters to realise this fundamental Human Right.

Currently, the Steve Biko building has only one plaque commomerating Steve Biko and his struggle against Apartheid. This second plaque will commomerate another struggle against another Apartheid.

The students union has finally succeeded in passing a motion recognising the continuing Israeli violations of Palestinians' right to education, and requesting a twinning with the AnNajah University in Nablus, and demanding that University of Manchester charges home fees to Palestinian students.

In 2005 we tried to establish a similar policy for the UMSU. Jewish groups at the university worked hard to stop us from presenting the motion, or changing its language. When this did not happen, The Jewish Society lobbied for people not to attend the meeting, therefor not allowing it to commence since we could not meet the quorum of 300 attendants.
I remember walking in, by mistake, into a room next to the general assembly meeting room. It was so intimidating to see all these zionists with IDF T-shirts assembling there resolved not to allow the meeting to commence by not entering the room, but at the same time, willing to enter if the meeting starts without their presence.

I am glad that this is possible now. For the comming three years, it is official policy of the Manchester University Students Union to Support Palestinian Education. But also, for the next three years, the students union will have to continuously vote against the motions which will be presented by the Jewish Society and other Pro-Israel groups to revoke this policy, starting in the next meeting of the General Assembly in November of this year. Good Luck UMSU!


Anonymous said...

h ah a i am so happy to be reading this on your blog! I am a student at manchester uni, and a member of action palestine - we've been working on this since september.

The tactics they used this year were disgusting - they postered all over uni with something like 'i'll be there to save our union from terror tomorrow - will you?' and turned up on the union steps early that morning in blue tshirts with 'a vote for this motion is a vote for terror' written on them.

In the end, the motion went straight through (miscalculated tactics by the zionists) after the 4 speeches. And there were so many people there (about 600) that the cafe outside had to be used to accomodate them.

The best part of the motion I think is that now the union has to lobby the university to provide at least 3 scholarships and home fees to Palestinian students. So hopefully there will be some practical result .

Anyway made me smile to read about is here, and find out you were at the general meeting last year!


Ned said...

Hey, Nice to know that some Mancunians read my blog. It is good to know of the details of the meeting because it is nice for me to compare. I tell you this if you ever come back to read it again.
When our motion/meeting was cancelled due to not meeting the quorum, an article was published in the Guardian that week, the author spoke of a similar motion they tried to pass in the early 90's. The Zionists then, unlike now, used the worst tactic ever. Guess what? When they found out that their efforts went to no avail, they triggered the fire alarm, causing everyone to leave the building before the voting. Unfortunately, I tried all search strings on the guardian website, but could not find a link to that article so I could not mention it on my post.

Anonymous said...

I read your article and I am shocked. The mistrust you have for these so called Zionists as you label them its nothing other than paranoia. I personally witnessed someone who is standing for social activities officer attempting to kiss a religious Jew as a means of upsetting him. You wouldnt tolerate that if it was a muslim guy. And the point of the shirts is ridiculous, people were canvassing votes on both sides of the argument. The parade of people waving Palestinian flags by the union steps I found particularly intimidating. Your whole argument is so perverse, as you are demonising a group who are legitimately participating in a democratic process. It is OK for one side to canvass votes or put up fliers (the pro motion ones were up a day earlier across the uni )but you pick up on the opponents actions instead of criticizing both parties. The point of trying to set the fire alarm is just absurd. I attended a meeting beforehand where the group organizing the opposition called for people to behave rationally and sensibly and to engage in calm dialog with others at the meeting. Both sides hardly acted in a mature fashion, but to criticize one side and not the other is not balanced.

Anonymous said...

That last post is obviously from a dick head. Those T-Shirts weren't canvassing one side of the argument, they were attempting to shut down political debate. Zionism is racism and cant be tolerated on campus.

Me said...

Mr Anonymous the 2nd,
You definition of balanced is beyond me, if you criticize both sides you are balanced?
Jsoc opposed the motion that’s fair enough, jsoc wanted their people to come and vote against it that’s also fair enough. But jsoc publicity was completely out of order the tried to scare students to come and vote and made it look like an attack on Jewish students and as I understand of the motion it’s for the right to education for Palestine, it highlights the Israeli violations of the right to education to Palestinians (which some deem as an attack on Israel and some take any criticism on Israel as a personal attack on themselves: wrongly so, so that’s their fault) whilst the action Palestine publicity (both posters that I have seen, please tell me is there was any other ones) were very reasonable, also an action Palestine member told me to go to the general meeting and hear the debate and make up my mind ( I had already made up my mind before).

Anonymous the 3rd I think you should take it back

Ned said...

I don't like to draw on generalisations. But to say what I saw during my one year in Manchester, JSoc was never playing fair. When we spoke about the right to education in 2005, JSoc members used to show up in our seminars and speak about the Holocaust. When we discussed the wall, they also spoke about the Holocaust, when we discussed anything else, their response was aout the Holocaust. And in some mysterious way, they would shift the discussion to terrorism (palestinian terrorism that is).
To me the point of the IDF T-shirts is not ridiculous. It is stirs up the same feeling you had when you saw Prince Harry brandishing a Nazi uniform, except the Prince was using it as a (ridiculous) historical prank and those were emphasising that they support those actions committed by IDF.
Action Palestine, never came out as encouraging terrorism. JSoc continuously comes out encouraging IDF/IOF terrorism labelling it "self defense".

Ned said...

if anyone is interested the motion has been on Yediot Ahronot. Nice, if it did not turn out to be a totally one sided and biased article, have a look http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3378597,00.html

Anonymous said...

I think that you are all a little misguided, or mis-informed. For a start Zionism is merely the Beleif that the Jews should have a homeland of their own and at the minute that is Israel. Zionism is not the hatred of Palestinians, not the want for them to be killed (such as in an apartied situation). Most Zionists Want the Palestinians to have a land of their own and want Peace. In fact, every Zionist that I know frequently condemns the actions of the Israeli Government. Most imporantly Zionism has nothing to do with racism.

The problem that the Manchester J-Soc had this the motion was not the fact that UMSU twinned with a Palestinian University but that the university chosen to twin with (Al-Najah) is the most extremeist university in Palestine and graduates more suicide bombers than any other institue in the area. At their Freshers fair they put on plays re-inacting the bombing of the Sbarro Pizza Bar in which many people died, applauding and revering the people that could cause such a thing.

The amendment put forward this week by the J-Soc was to only support the twinning of Al-Najah officially condoned terrorism. By openly campaigning against this, one can only presume that Action Palestine, Respect, and Socialist Workers Party (which frequently form an alliance against the J-Soc) are in favour of suicide bombings and kidnappings as a form of political tactic.

I fully support the plight of the Palestinian people but bombings and kidnappings is not the right way in which to deal with it, or indeed with anything in life.

Anonymous said...

useful thing anger - it stops people looking for solutions, leaves you with a sense of smugness and self-righteousness, frightens the other side ...

put your anger away. look inside and try to find common ground or we will all go round in circles, daubed with the blood of people not yet born.

Anonymous said...
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