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LSE-Palestine Solidarity Initiative hails outcome of student resistance

LSE PSI | 25.01.2009 18:01 | University Occupations for Gaza

The founders of the Palestine Solidarity Initiative ( have welcomed the outcome of a 7-day theatre occupation by LSE students at the end of which the School administration conceded to several of their demands.

After days of negotiations, LSE Director Howard Davies agreed to make a public statement to express "concern" over the Israeli denial of the right to education of Palestinians and the bombing of education facilities. The Palestine Solidarity Initiative has long pressured the school to waive application fees for students born or resident in the Occupied Territories. The School has given in to these demands and we have begun facilitating this process through our existing scheme. So far five applicants have had their fees waived.

Students, staff and alumni remain outraged that the School has rejected demands to divest from companies who supply arms to Israel. Howard Davies was heavily criticised in the past for a previous role working in the arms industry, where he served as the non-executive director of GKN. His continued reluctance in taking a decisive step against Apartheid Israel is seen by many as implicit support for Israel. He currently sits on the national council of the Friends of Israel Academic Foundation while refusing requests for academic collaborations with Birzeit University in occupied Palestine. Despite ending their occupation, LSE students have made it clear that their struggle is not over until the School administration meets their demands in full.
SOAS and LSE were the first universities to have started occupations. Other universities that have since followed with their own occupations include Essex, King's, Birmingham, Sussex, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge and Newcastle. Countless people and organisations expressed their support for the LSE occupation, and many participated in mass rallies that took place in the temporarily renamed "Liberation Theatre" including of Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP, George Galloway MP and Moshe Machover.

James Caspell, an Honorary Student of the LSE Students' Union and former Governor of the LSE stated: "Students won't remain silent whilst LSE profits from Israeli war crimes. We need to globalise resistance against Israel and ensure that it is no longer allowed to get away with its genocidal policies against a defenseless population, and students, staff and alumni will continue to mobilise in solidarity with the plight of Palestinians."

"The school only reacted after mass resistance from the student movement," said Ziyaad Lunat, also an Honorary Student of the LSE Students' Union and former Governor of the LSE, "their hypocrisy in collusion with Israel's crimes should be condemned in the strongest terms. "


Notes for Editors:

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1 - The aim of the Palestine Solidarity Initiative is to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinian students, and empower those who are systematically denied of the opportunities to study at institutions where they would be able to fulfil their academic potential.

2 - The Initiative aims to encourage all students, alumni, staff and academics connected with LSE to support Palestinians - politically, educationally and financially – by encouraging and supporting their application to the vast array of Masters degree programs that the LSE has to offer.

3 - The London School of Economics Students' Union is officially twinned with Al-Najah University and recently voted to divest funds from those companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. The motion also called on LSE to respect human rights and follow suit in embracing a divestment agenda.

4 - The Palestine Solidarity Initiative was founded by James Caspell and Ziyaad Lunat, two LSE alumni and activists who have long campaigned for the liberation of Palestine.

James Caspell

Ziyaad Lunat