Thousands of young people have been part of the millions who have marched in recent weeks against the murderous siege of Gaza by the Israeli state.
We’re furious at the hypocrisy of the Tories, Starmer’s Labour Party and pro-capitalist governments around the world which claim to stand for peace and democracy, yet support the brutal onslaught of the Israeli state against innocent Palestinians because it suits their interests. This is on top of them turning a blind eye to the daily oppression and persecution the Palestinian masses have suffered for decades.
Now, students are taking the struggle back to their schools and colleges. Thousands have walked out of classes and marched to demand an end to the onslaught on Gaza. Students in Bristol and London marched to the offices of their local MPs to voice their anger at the Israeli state’s bombardment of Palestinians.
The fact that some Labour MPs, under mass pressure from their constituents, were forced to vote for a ceasefire in Parliament against Labour leader Keir Starmer’s orders shows that when they think their cushy parliamentary careers are on the line, they can be pushed back!
It also shows the role that students and young people can play in building the struggle for Palestinian liberation here in Britain. That’s why we need to build our movement, organising gate protests and marches locally to keep up the pressure on and expose all politicians who support war and cutbacks.
A key way to strengthen our movement would be the establishment of students unions at our schools and colleges. Such organisations could provide a democratic forum through which students could come together to discuss how to most effectively build the movement against the siege of Gaza, help mobilise and protect students from any attempts to restrict our right to protest, and to organise future campaigns against attacks to our futures and education here in Britain.
Alongside getting organised in our schools and colleges, students need a political fightback as well. As the vote in Parliament on the question of a ceasefire demonstrated, all the establishment parties back war and the capitalist system which demands it. We can’t put any trust in Starmer, or the other parties which represent capitalism, to stand up for the oppressed Palestinian masses or working class and young people here in Britain.
That’s why we need to challenge them at the next general election – part of the struggle to build a new mass political party that fights for socialist change and stands on the side of the oppressed masses in Palestine and the working class internationally.
The truth is that no capitalist governments or institutions can win liberation for the Palestinian masses or establish lasting peace in the region, because they all represent and defend the profit-before-all-else system of capitalism, which relies on division and oppression to maintain its rule.
But the global mass movement in support of the Palestinian masses points towards the force capable of ending this rotten capitalist system – the working class – and the need to establish a new socialist society based on the democratic public ownership of society’s wealth and resources, and solidarity and cooperation, not profit and war. Join the socialists to be part of that fight.
Students walk out…
About a thousand school and college students all across Tower Hamlets waked out of lessons and gathered to protest the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians and the British government’s complicity in it on 16 November. Tower Hamlets MP Rashanara Ali refused to vote for a ceasefire.
Students of all ages were outraged and took to the streets, marching from the Town Hall building to the Labour Party offices. Students called for a ceasefire and an end to the siege and violence on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Seeing students so well informed on a topic and angered enough about it to take action shows just how important it is for the youth to organise. The government has tried to silence all discussions about Israel-Palestine in schools, colleges and on campuses, and would like to have us believe that ‘it’s too complicated and complex for us to understand’. But this has not deterred students. We are informing ourselves and our voices will be heard. There is power in the collective and we will wield it to demand peace and liberation.
Newham residents gathered outside East Ham Town Hall to protest against the continued attack on Gaza and to call for an immediate ceasefire on 17 November.
The crowd of roughly two hundred appeared to be predominantly made up of families with children, as well as local political activists and Socialist Party members.
The mood was energetic but outraged. By then, Newham residents were aware that MP Lyn Brown for nearby West Ham had chosen to abstain from voting for a ceasefire in Parliament. Residents I spoke to were pleased, however, to hear that East Ham MP Stephen Timms had voted for a ceasefire apparently understanding the strength of feeling amongst his constituents.
Socialist Party members were invited to address the crowd and our socialist perspective on the attack on Gaza was received well. As the crowd continued to chant, students from a school situated on the same site as the town hall began gathering closely to the demonstration and enthusiastically joined in with the chanting, before eventually being directed back into the school by staff.
Eventually and organically, the group decided to march from the town hall, down East Ham High Street. As they marched, many passers-by expressed support by sounding their horns, clapping or stepping out of shops onto the street as the group passed.
The march finished outside of East Ham tube station where chanting continued. A Socialist Party member again addressed the crowd and, as a result, many committed to also attending a subsequent successful demonstration on Saturday, calling for the resignation of MP Lyn Brown.
Harriet Allen, National Education Union and, Socialist Party member
With Socialist Students members and others, I was part of the student walkout on 17 November in protest against the University of Sheffield’s involvement with the arms industry currently supporting the Israeli state’s offensive on Gaza.
The protest gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall before moving to an open meeting discussing how to organise opposition to the attacks on Gaza.
The turnout quickly grew to several hundred students from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam to listen to speakers from the wider community. We were greeted kindly by the speakers as they exposed both universities’ compliance – speakers said that the University of Sheffield has hired a chaplain with ties to the Israel Defence Force!
Students marched through Sheffield centre with chants in support of Palestine. Cries of “Shame” and “Blood money” accompanied discussions about capitalist politicians’ support for the Israeli state’s brutal attacks.