UCL protest across the gates. Photo: James Ivens
UCL protest across the gates. Photo: James Ivens

Seamus Smyth, Socialist Party East Midlands organiser

University students across the United States have set up encampments to protest against the brutal onslaught on the Palestinian people by the Israeli state after the US Government agreed an extra $15 billion for the Israeli military. Students are calling on universities to cut ties with companies making huge profits aiding the Israeli military and its occupation in Gaza.

There has been vicious police suppression against the protesters, showing how cruel the university managements are by encouraging these attacks on students and staff. In Columbia University, for example, students were faced with hundreds of riot police who barbarically attacked protesters and arrested students and staff en masse.

It is not only university management; the pro-capitalist Democratic and Republican parties support and encourage these cruel responses by police and university security.

UK protests

Students here have seen the events in the US and have taken action onto their campuses with solidarity protests and encampments. Students fighting against the war do not have a mass party that represents them either.

In order for students to defend the right to protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people, students need to have their own democratic organisations. They could link up with the workers’ movement and the trade unions. Socialist Party members are fighting in trade unions to bring together workers in the arms and logistics industries to discuss and debate what action they can take against the war – workers in the same companies students are protesting against.

Students, linked to the workers’ movement, could help take the necessary steps for genuine workers’ political representation, to fight against the barbaric war on Gaza and the right to protest on campuses and in the workplaces, but also to fight against the housing crisis, never-ending cuts and exploitation here in Britain.

The fight against war means fighting for socialism. It’s the working-class and students internationally who have the power to bring that change about.

Socialist Students says:

  • Stop the Gaza slaughter – for the permanent withdrawal of the Israeli military from the occupied territories
  • Solidarity with students occupying universities across the US. Stop arming Israeli state terror!
  • Defend the right to protest on campus. Student unions must lead campaigns to defend any students victimised for protesting against war and oppression
  • Kick out the Tories! But Starmer’s Labour is no alternative. Help us build a new workers’ party with socialist policies to end war, austerity and capitalism
  • For a socialist Middle East and world!


Appearing overnight, the newly formed ‘Oxford Action for Palestine’ added Oxford to the long list of Palestinian solidarity encampments spanning the world. So, with leaflets, Socialist newspapers, and six boxes of cereal in tow, we headed down to lend our support and put forward a socialist programme.

The group’s appointed media liaison explained the group is comprised of a mix of students and professors standing in solidarity with their Palestinian counterparts. She said that they don’t intend to leave until their demands are met, which are:

  1. Disclose all finances and open the University’s books
  2. Divest from Israeli genocide, apartheid, and occupation
  3. Overhaul university investment policy
  4. Boycott Israeli genocide, apartheid, and occupation
  5. Stop banking with Barclays
  6. Support Palestinian-led rebuilding of education in Gaza

Plenty of positive aspects to their demands, such as opening the University’s books, are mirrored by their collaboration with students at other universities and with university trade unions. The group has been working alongside the University and College Union (UCU) branch which sent out a statement supporting the camp. Further collaboration was seen with the camp swelling to around 500 as part of a healthcare workers’ vigil.

When asked what message the group would like to send to socialists, the response was very direct. She called on socialists to get involved in their local camps, or build new ones if not already established.

I agree, socialists should get involved, but also use all the levers available to workers in addition to occupations. Only with workers and students acting side by side will their full demands be met.

Rachel Cox, Oxford Socialist Party


On the 1 May, students at the University of Manchester (UoM), including Manchester Leftist Action, Youth Front for Palestine, Youth Demand, and Manchester Palestine Action, occupied Brunswick Park as an escalation of a series of short occupations resisting Israel’s assault on Palestine and the university’s ties with arms companies.

When I visited the occupation in Manchester for an interview, they had just renamed it Dr Adnan Al-Bursh Park, after a Palestinian doctor and professor who died in an Israeli prison on 19 April.

Among the groups’ demands is no disciplinary action against students involved. Already a student is facing suspension for their journalistic work exposing UoM’s vice chancellor saying she was comfortable with arms industries being on campus.

So far, other than the threat of suspension, the university has put up no resistance to the occupation. A spokesperson for the group said: “If the university wants to put a possession order through, they’re welcome to, and we will decide collectively what we want to do about that.”

I asked what the group want people to do: “Show your support, be loud, keep shouting about Palestine because the second we don’t, we lose the rich legacy of the Palestinian people.”

Socialist Students calls for students to organise democratically, and link up with the broader workers’ movement, to resist war, occupation and university marketisation. Universities having strong ties with the arms industry is a product of the broader issue of treating education as a market rather than a public service. Governmental funding has been slashed, and so management turn to wealthy companies, exploitative student rents and high international fees to fill the deficit. A socialist transformation of society is the only permanent solution, and if you want to help get us there get in touch with Socialist Students or the Socialist Party and build a mass movement of students and workers to resist war and capitalism.

Sam Hey, Manchester Socialist Party


Students at University College London have gone into occupation demanding an end to the institution’s support for the Israeli state onslaught on Palestine.

The tent encampment follows an earlier room occupation. UCL management has responded by having security close the campus to the public.

A solidarity protest on Friday 3 May attracted around a hundred across both sides of the gates at short notice. Supporters outside were open to discussing socialist ideas to end the war, with one telling me he had voted for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the London elections the day before.

To defend and extend protest actions like the UCL occupation, students need their own democratic campaign organisations that can draw together the various strands of student struggle and link up with campus trade unions. Join Socialist Students to help us build that!

James Ivens


Students and supporters gathered to hear speakers at the Warwick protest from the anti-war and trade union movement. The speaker from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) mentioned the potential role of workers in stopping arms supplies to an illegal war.

As we tried to hand out TUSC election leaflets, a self-admitted prospective local Labour Party candidate in a mask and hood tried to take our leaflets, claiming this wasn’t a political protest!

Warwick Socialist Students


Socialist Party members visited the encampment opposite Leeds University Union. While we visited, university staff members also came down to offer support. We explained that we stood in the elections opposing the war on Gaza as part of TUSC, and our election leaflets were added to those being handed to supporters of the occupation.

Student occupiers joined the Leeds TUC May Day march for peace at the weekend which swelled to over 500 strong.