FAQ

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY?

The demands that we have made reflect the ultimate principle that the University should compensate for the support that it has provided to one side in this conflict, namely Israel; and that the University -in it’s capacity as a transnational education institution- has a moral duty to the international community to uphold and defend the right to education as provided for by article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The University maintains strong ties with arms manufacturers through, among other things, the large sum of research sponsorship money it receives from weapons companies such as BAE Systems and the Smiths Group, who supply parts for the F-16 fighter jets used by the Israeli military. This same military equipment has played a key role in the ongoing human rights abuses and huge civilian casualties which the IDF has inflicted on the people of Palestine.

The University also maintains a large investment portfolio which includes further funds invested with weapons development companies which supply Israel.

This, in conjunction with a podcast broadcast on the official university portal strongly in support of Israels’ actions, suggests that in this conflict the University has already chosen sides ideologically and politically as well as economically.

For this reason, we the protesters demand that the University take actions in its capacity as an educational institution to support the people of Gaza, defend the inalienable, universal right to education and help to rectify some of the damage done.

SO WHY OCCUPY?

Students of Nottingham have been campaigning for the University to end these ties with weapons companies for years, with very limited success. With relation to these and similar issues, the University has so far demonstrated a blanket approach of refusing to engage in serious dialogue with students.

During previous campaigns which enjoyed broad-based support, the University showed itself unwilling to take the wishes of students seriously. The anti-Starbucks campaign exhausted all conventional channels, including persistent weekly protests, a motion in the Student Union Council condemning the presence of Starbucks, a University-wide poll indicating that the vast majority of students would prefer a fairtrade alternative, and a petition signed by many hundreds of students.  Despite all of this, the university management completely ignored the students and Starbucks coffee continues to be served in Hallward Library, nearly a year an a half after the first protest took place.

Frustrated by this consistent lack of engagement, students have been driven to a more direct form of protest to make the University consider their demands, and are acting in solidarity with a broader student occupation movement across the UK.

For information on Nottingham University ties with companies involved in the arms trade click here.

For information on specific weapons manufacturers’ trade with Israel click here.

WERE WE DISRUPTIVE?

The university management are seeking to justify their forceful eviction of our peaceful sit-in by claiming that the occupation was ‘disrupting the education of other students.’

We stated explicitly in our communications to senior management, on the evening the occupation began, that any disruption of our peer’s education was expressly against our wishes.  We made our position very clear, guaranteeing that we would maintain a diminished, strictly silent and unobtrusive presence during lectures.  Throughout the occupation we took steps to ensure that B62 was a fully functional, clean and pleasant learning environment, and used the space to host a number of talks, film screenings, entertainments and events.

On Thursday morning, Stephen Dudderidge, Director of Student Operations and Support, decided to reschedule or cancel all the lectures that would have taken place in the occupied lecture hall. This was against our wishes and despite our continued reassurance that we would create no disruption. We notified the Vice Chancellor of our deep concern regarding this.  The decision was also made without the University authorities contacting the appropriate lecturers, some of whom had already expressed their willingness to conduct classes as usual in communication with us.  The university authorities refused to engage in reasonable discussion on this matter, or to reconsider their unnecessary decision.

Disruption and rescheduling of lectures was a direct result of  decisions taken by senior management, not by ourselves.  We believe this was the deliberate and calculated manufacture of a pretext designed to justify the use force against a peaceful demonstration.

WHAT ABOUT HAMAS?

Over the course of the occupation, protesters have frequently been asked about their stance toward Hamas, whether the protest could be construed as supporting this organisation, and whether we condemn their actions in Gaza and Israel.

We have conducted this occupation to voice our opposition to the support which our university has provided to Israel, through its direct involvement with weapons development companies that supply the Israeli military.

We condemn the firing of thousands of rockets into southern Israel over the past 8 years by Hamas’ military wing and other armed factions within Gaza. However, this does not mean that we do not recognise the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to resist the illegal occupation of their homeland and the oppression inflicted upon them, as described in the Geneva conventions relating to the rights of an occupied people.

Our protest is humanitarian and against civilian casualties, and we therefore condemn the deliberate targeting of civilians on both sides.

No mention of Hamas is made in our demands because we are unaware of any links between the University institution and Hamas. If such links exist and are brought to our attention, then we will of course incorporate them into our demands.  Further, we are not aware that Hamas’ actions have significantly affected the right to education in Israel, and should good evidence that the right to education in Israel has been severely damaged, to the point of crisis by the recent conflict, we will of course add to our demands, more scholarships for Israeli students and academic aid for Israeli educational institutions.

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One response to “FAQ

  1. Occupation Nottingham

    (In response to a comment posted on this page -the full content of the original comment is included- our responses in bold).

    “No mention of Hamas is made in our demands because we are unaware of any links between the University institution and Hamas. If such links exist and are brought to our attention, then we will of course incorporate them into our demands.”

    You do realise that your demands actually include building links with Hamas right? You want the University of Nottingham to have links with the Islamic University of Gaza.

    We found your interpretation of the sources problematic, displaying a shallow understanding of what Hamas actually is.

    Gazans are trapped and educational opportunities are limited even when they get outside scholarships they are rarely permitted to leave their eclave http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/30/world/middleeast/30gaza.html. Their places of learning have been attacked with by F16 fighter jets, tanks shells and white phosphorous as documented by the UN. We also point out that Hamas are more than a military wing, as a peoples movement they are part of the political, social and cultural fabric of Gaza. To say that a University is a base for Hamas activity does not mean its a military training camp. We want scholarships for those in Gaza University to assist in their education, again our demands are focused on the fact that ordinary Gazans are suffering a humanitarian crisis brought about by the destruction of their basic civilian infrastructures.

    Well, have a read:

    “The fresh wave of air strikes targeted the Islamic University in Gaza, a hotbed of support for Hamas…” A rigorous and honest analysis would have included the quote in full …

    “The fresh wave of air strikes targeted the Islamic University in Gaza, a hotbed of support for Hamas but also an important educational institute for Gaza’s students, who are denied access to the outside world by the Israeli blockade of the Strip.”

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5412442.ece?token=null&offset=12&page=2

    This comment was made with regards to, and in the context of Israel trying to make up for failures in its attacks on Lebanon by… ” attacking symbols of Hamas power and prestige, like the Islamic University in Gaza.” Besides this, Hamas are the government of Gaza, of course they are involved with the running of Universities and university life, they would not be a Government if they did not. Should the Labour party have been kicked off campus and management refused government money or involvement when the illegal invasion of Iraq occurred?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7804113.stm

    “Part of the Islamic University – a support base for the Islamist group Hamas that controls Gaza – was destroyed.” Again Hamas are an elected government and having supporters who teach and learn attend the University does not justify bombing this essential educational infrastructure. We believe in the Palestinian’s right to choose their own government. In the same way rabbinical universities in Israel with links to the IDF, that are attended by reservists are not military targets.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/7802814.stm

    And regarding Fatah’s battles with Hamas in Gaza: Irrelevant to current humanitarian situation as buildings were not flattened then.

    “Overnight Gaza City’s Islamic University, regarded as a Hamas bastion, was stormed by the presidential guard.” Another decontextualised picture caption from the not so impartial BBC. Interesting use of the word ‘bastion’, it has some military connotations. See all the points made above.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/6324069.stm

    “In February 2007, at the height of tension between Hamas and the rival Fatah movement of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, his presidential guard stormed the university and confiscated weapons and ammunition. Palestinian TV aired footage of dozens of rocket-propelled grenade launchers, rockets, and assault rifles, as well as thousands of bullets, that Mr. Abbas’s officials said had been found inside the university.”

    This article backs up what we are saying. In reference to Israeli claims quoted above: “University officials denied the Israeli allegations. In remarks quoted by the International Middle East Media Center, Nihad al-Sheikh Khalil, a lecturer at the university, told Al-Jazeera TV that the Israeli army shells universities, mosques, and other civilian facilities and then claims “victory.” The Islamic University was established by the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and has emerged as a training ground for the political and spiritual leadership of Hamas (not military). Many Hamas leaders who are also academics have taught at the university, but students do not have to swear affiliation to the organization.
    http://chronicle.com/news/article/5715/israeli-airstrikes-in-gaza-destroy-2-university-buildings

    Other reports:

    This is simply out of date and relates to an internal armed conflict one year ago: “Hamas fighters have been inside Islamic University for days, trying to protect it from another Fatah attack like one last year that badly damaged the school, one of the prime means for Hamas to convert Palestinians to its Islamist cause.
    http://www.iht.com/bin/print.php?id=5773548

    So you simultaneously claim you would oppose University links with Hamas AND want to build links with an institution that all reports indicate is strongly tied to Hamas?

    Thought that one through, didn’t you.”

    We would oppose any University of Nottingham support for Hamas rocket-attacks or military support. We are advocating the creation of educational links to institutions in Gaza (which of course have some affiliation or dealings with the democratically elected government in that region). This is about upholding the universal right to education for the people of Gaza; not a blanket boycott of the cultural, educational and social aspects of Hamas. Equally we are not advocating a cultural or educational boycott of Israel. Appologies if this was not implicitly obvious.

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