Leeds students protesting against the war on Gaza
Leeds students protesting against the war on Gaza

Leeds uni students occupy Parkinson building over Israel-Palestine war

Anthony Bracuti, Leeds Socialist Party

Students at the University of Leeds have occupied the iconic Parkinson building in response to university management’s unwillingness to distance itself from the Israeli state.

On 7 March, students stormed the building, the most recognisable symbol of the university, in anger at the actions of the uni with regards to the genocidal attacks in Gaza.

The university is still reeling from the scandal of its chaplain, Zechariah Deutsch, joining the IDF in November, and his propagandising on official and unofficial social media and WhatsApp groups. Deutsch returned to the UK in February and is still officially the Orthodox Jewish Chaplain.

The occupiers seek to force the university to deny him access to students; to force the university to commit to the safety of Palestinian students; and for the university to divest its interests in the state of Israel.

The marketisation of the university sector inevitably results in the university prioritising its own image. Without friendly media, the university cannot attract lucrative international students and their fees. As a result, uni management had initially locked the occupiers inside the building, with no access to food, in order to starve them out. Despite this, there have been daily demonstrations on campus in solidarity, including significant disruption to a university open day. Hopefully the occupiers can hurt the university in the only place management cares about, its wallet, and so bring about the change they are striving for.

Goldsmiths students protest and occupy against uni ties with Israel state

Chloe Leslie, Goldsmiths student and South East London Socialist Party

Students at Goldsmiths University in south London have protested to demand that the university cut its ties with the Israeli regime, and divest from companies that support the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The demonstration was part of a wider campaign by the group ‘Goldsmiths for Palestine’ which has been occupying the Professor Stuart Hall building, with teach-ins, protests, talks and rallies.

Protesters demand that Goldsmiths adopts a clear stance on the unfolding situation. Speakers raised points such as upholding academic freedom and freedom of expression for students and staff who criticise Israel, and explained the role students played in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Some demands included divesting from companies, and supporting the rebuilding of Gazan educational infrastructures through partnerships, scholarships, and preservation of archives.

The university issued a statement saying that it respects the right of students to express their views peacefully and lawfully, but that it does not endorse or support any political position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the time of publication, Goldsmiths management have yet to meet with the organisers of the occupation after “fraught negotiations”.