Students for Palestine
|Students for Palestine|
|Politics of Australia
Students for Palestine (SFP) is a network of pro-Palestinian and anti Israeli student activists based on various Australian university campuses. The group was set up (originally as Students for Gaza) in response to the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict. SFP works closely with other Australian pro-Palestine and anti-war organisations such as the Gaza Defence Committee, Jews Against the Occupation, Australians for Palestine, Stop the War Coalition, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine among others, and forms a part of the general international Palestinian solidarity movement.
SFP oppose the Australian and US Government's support of Israel and support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. In 2010 they officially endorsed the first national conference in support of the BDS campaign in Australia.
The stated aims of the Victorian SFP group are:
- the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people
- The "right of return" of the Palestinian people
- the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli state from Palestinian land and the dismantling of all Israeli settlements
- opposition to the "oppression" and "dispossession" suffered by the Palestinian people
- opposition to Israel's "occupation" and its aggression against neighboring states
- opposition to the political, economic and military support given by all governments to the Israeli state, in particular Australia and United States.
- opposition to anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic prejudice and all forms of racism and bigotry, including the "apartheid" and Zionist nature of the Israeli state
Swinburne University of Technology
In 2010, Swinburne Student Union Secretary and SFP spokesperson, Damian Ridgewell condemned then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for not breaking ties with Israel after the IDF raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which killed nine peace activists. SFP helped to organise the initial demonstration to the IDF action in Melbourne. Later in 2010, SFP toured activists Ahmed Luqman and Jerry Campbell who were aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the boats which were boarded by IDF. Luqman spoke of the incident in which he had been shot.
University of Melbourne
In 2009, University of Melbourne SFP members were amongst those that organised a public protest against former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom at the Australia Israel Leadership Forum held at the Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne. Outside the gala dinner attended by then-Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard (who re-affirmed the Australian Labor Party's opposition to the Goldstone report to the UN General Assembly), activists were pepper sprayed for trying to enter an under-policed side entrance to the hotel. Then-University of Melbourne Student Union Welfare Officer and founding SFP member, Frances Lewis, wrote of the event: "A bit of pepper spray will not deter us -- it is nothing in comparison to the horrors Palestinians face every day."
University of Melbourne SFP members also helped organise a public meeting with Israeli-Arab Knesset member Haneen Zoabi in Melbourne in 2009. In 2010 they held a fundraiser for the Viva Palestina 5, the land convoy headed for Gaza for the purpose of delivering building materials destroyed after the Gaza War, which successfully reached its destination by October.
At Monash University, according to an article in The Age, Omar Hassan, Education Officer of the Monash Student Association (MSA) was stripped of his wages for two weeks by the Council for using his office time and MSA funds on campaigning for SFP, claiming that it was a non-MSA related matter. The Education Officer accused the MSA of "trying to gag political dissent", a charge the MSA President denied, stating the decision by the council was based on "constitutional grounds because he had failed to do his job". The office bearer allegedly used the office bearer hours, money and resources of the MSA to run the SFP campaign, while not completing the duties within his portfolio. The Council ruled that the campaign was irrelevant to his position as an office bearer, and that due to the breaches of the MSA constitution and the failure to complete his duties, that he be docked two weeks of pay.
Hassan also put forth a motion to the Council asking the student union to take an official stance against Israel's aggression in Gaza, stating precedents that student unions at other Universities had already taken a stance. This motion was rejected by the Council.
SFP commemorated the 1948 Palestinian exodus (known in Arabic as the Nakba) in 2009 at RMIT with an information session on its history prior to marching in protest against Israel through Melbourne's inner city, some of the protesters chanting, "Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea". This is not the formal position of the group, which includes people who support both 1 and 2 state solutions.
University of Western Sydney
Planned Protest at Synagogue
Victorian Students for Palestine planned to conduct a demonstration outside the Adass Israel Synagogue on the Sabbath afternoon of 24 February 2012, to protest the support of Joseph Gutnick for settlers on the West Bank, and particularly in Hebron. When alerted that they were planning to disturb religious services of an extremely devout and non-political congregation, Students for Palestine moved the demonstration elsewhere. They appear to have confused the synagogue with a meeting hall named for Joseph Gutnick. However, they were condemned in the local Jewish media. Australians for Palestine also ran the story from The Australian without comment, even though The Australian was harshly critical of Students for Palestine.
- Monash University
- RMIT University
- Swinburne University
- University of Melbourne
- University of Western Sydney
- About Students for Palestine, Accessed: 7 April 2009.
- Palestine solidarity: BDS conference set for October, Direct Action, August 2010. Accessed: 21 September 2010.
- Your Representatives Swinburne Student Union. Accessed 25 June 2010.
- Israel to deport foreign aid fleet activists The Age, 2 June 2010. Accessed: 2 June 2010.
- Protest Israel's murder of unarmed peace activists Socialist Alternative, 31 May 2010. Accessed: 25 June 2010.
- Eyewitness to Israel’s Murder on the Gaza Flotilla, Australians for Palestine, 14 August 2010. Accessed: 21 September 2010.
- Fair Fares Rally successful - great turnout validates the campaign! University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association, 3 May 2009. Accessed 6 April 2010.
- Voice of equality The Age, 16 May 2009. Accessed 25 June 2010.
- Students for Palestine fundraiser to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, Australians for Palestine, 8 August 2010. Accessed: 21 September 2010.
- 'Viva Palestina' activists deliver tons of aid to Gaza Strip Haaretz, 21 October 2010. Accessed 23 October 2010.
- Pay docked over Palestinian support The Age, 2 April 2009. Accessed: 7 April 2009.
- Item 3: Omar Hassan complaints Minutes from meeting 05c/09 of the Monash Student Council, 24 March 2009. Accessed: 19 September 2009.
- Item 4: Gaza Motion Minutes from meeting 01/09 of the Monash Student Council, 9 January 2009. Accessed: 25 June 2010.
- Free Palestine rally at RMIT City Journal Online, 9 June 2009. Accessed: 28 June 2010.
- The Palestinian cause understands the Tamil struggle Antony Loewenstein, 6 May 2009. Accessed: 7 May 2009.
- Activists abandon Sabbath protest Accessed 10 February 2012.
- Australian Jewish News, 16 February 2012 "BDS supporters cancel synagogue demonstration"
- Haters target synagogue boycott protesters plan sinister raid on Jewish religious service Accessed 20 February 2012