Home News UCT Nakba Commemoration Evolves into Significant Solidarity Movement

UCT Nakba Commemoration Evolves into Significant Solidarity Movement

by Thaabit Kamaar

Cape Town – The commemoration of the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, initially planned as a one-night campout by pro-Palestinian students and student organisations at the University of Cape Town (UCT), quickly transformed into something more significant.

Muminah, a student organiser at UCT4Palestine, stated that the encampment aimed to commemorate the Nakba and educate individuals about the history of Palestine, its illegal occupation by Israel, and the crimes being committed against Palestinians.

Additionally, the purpose of the encampment was to serve as a space for artistic and educational activities, where participants could support each other and mobilise people to become aware of the Palestinian plight, engage with diverse communities, and participate in various boycotting actions against Israel.

However, after creating the space and engaging in discussions, meetings with Palestinians in South Africa, and readings from various sources to better understand the Palestinians concerns and crises, they realised the necessity of extending their efforts. This led to the realisation that they needed to be made aware of the extent to which UCT was investing in Israel and Israeli universities and companies.

This realisation prompted students to demand that UCT disclose this information and any other Israeli involvement. According to Muminah, UCT is one of the most prominent institutions on the African continent that engages with Israel on an academic level.

“Why it’s important for Wits and UCT students to put pressure on these universities is because together they both make up 50% of Israeli academic collaboration in South Africa.”

Although formal demands are yet to be submitted, Muminah expects to hand them over in the coming days to consolidate their demands.

“Our main goal is for this university to institute a full academic boycott against Israel and Israeli universities… But other than that, the encampment is about creating a political space that brings politics back onto the campus.”

Universal Show of Solidarity on Academic Campuses

Muminah revealed that they had contacted student organisers at Wits, who provided ideas and tips on organising their encampment. Like many others worldwide, the encampment is a powerful demonstration of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Like those students, they are calling for an end to the occupation and violence, divestment from companies complicit in human rights abuses, and greater international support for Palestinian rights and justice.

However, we have watched how the leadership, media, and authorities in other countries have handled similar encampments by slandering the students while police arrest and attack them. Pro-Israeli supporters have also been seen harassing and victimising peaceful encampments.

When asked if it is similar at UCT, Muminah stated that the support they’ve received outweighs the opposition. They have received support from UCT alums and academics who have expressed solidarity, provided resources, and actively advocated for the Palestinian cause.

“We have received so much support that the opposition has been barely noticeable. A lot of people have reached out for support, especially UCT alumni and academics who have been really on board with us … In terms of Zionism, nothing drastic has come up. However, we are getting weary because UCT currently has an interdict against any protests on campus.”

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