So I stayed overnight and we briefly prepared our response to the negotiations with the university. I’ve had a couple of classes and I went back to the Chaplaincy to sell more chocolate for the DEC Gaza Appeal. Now that I’m back, I’ve been watching some of the protestors doing a workshop on resisting arrest. At first it was quite practical like going limp instead of tensing your muscles and trying to calm the situation, but then it kind of degenerated into deep breathing and saying words at different volumes, and all the time lots of hugging. Personally I think preparing for such an eventuality is a bit paranoid, but it was quite good entertainment.
One thing that is mildly annoying me is that other issues are getting sneaked into the agenda. A lot of these protestors are really really liberal and have more interests than just this, so during the negotiations, some of the demands are having other things added to them. For example, we stipulated in one demand that any aid getting transported to Gaza gets shipped because it’s better for the environment. Fair enough and I don’t think anyone here disagreed, but it’s not really what this is about, it shouldn’t be in the demands.
Another, perhaps better example, is that one of the demands was to disinvest in any company producing weapons that are being used in Israel. I fully supported that, but then during this morning’s discussion, points were raised that the demand should be to disinvest in all weapons research. Not only do I think this is totally unrealistic and will make the protestors seem juvenile, but I also don’t think it’s desirable. Weapons are necessary for war, and war is sometimes necessary, at least in the current global anarchic system. I do hope for a day when weapons will not be necessary and there will be world peace, but the way to reach world peace is not through getting rid of weapons. Weapons are merely the tools, war would still exist without them. But regardless of whether it’s a good thing or not, it’s nothing to do with us. This demonstration is against this conflict in Gaza, not all war, as if that would be achievable. This is not an anti-war demonstration in general. Of course the Socialist Workers have been slipping their own familiar rhetoric in too, but that’s fine, they’ve been great supporting us so far.
Consensus agreement is also becoming more difficult as we get into the finer points, particularly because people are coming and going all the time so if we review something we’ve discussed before, some people don’t know what we’re on about, and others disagree with something we’ve already put through the consensus system. It’s difficult because I’m in agreement with the broad message, but some things about the protest are so frustrating.
One thing that picked up morale a bit was that an Eden Springs van came to deliver water this morning, and as some of us rushed down to tell them to get lost, security did it for us! So far the security guys have been brilliant, they’ve had no problems with us getting in and out (although so far they’re only letting UoE students in), and they’ve all been really friendly.
We got some news today that an emergency SRC (Students Representative Council) meeting was called to discuss the issue by a very pro-Israel member of the committee, and that their intention was to release a EUSA statement against the demonstration. Adam Ramsay, Naomi Hunter and Guy Bromley came down a few minutes ago to let us know what’s going on, and the SRC did not agree on that statement. Instead Adam paraphrased the statement they will be releasing, and they’re not saying anything, basically.
I’ve no idea how long I’ll be here but I’ll be popping in for a few hours each day until it’s over. Here’s some more photographs.