Students from across the country met in central London to participate in the first ever "Divest for Justice" conference. The event, which brought together green activists and pro-Palestine student groups, are campaigning for their institutions to end investments in companies complicit in Israeli apartheid and the destruction of the environment. The collaborative conference allowed students to build alliances across student groups, strengthening their on-campus campaigns.
Over 30 campuses met in London on Saturday to build an activists network to take on the challenge of fighting climate change and Israeli occupation. It was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and People & Planet; marking the first ever national collaboration between pro-Palestine and Fossil Free student groups.
With victorious divestment campaigns at Leeds University, organisers say other universities are expected to follow suit in divesting from Israeli apartheid.
Speakers from the Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) National Committee, the NUS Black Students Campaign and Campaign Against Arms Trade, all linked the struggles against environmental racism and Israeli apartheid. They pointed out that right-wing governments that support Israel's apartheid policies, such as the US and Brazil, are also key drivers of environmental destruction.
UK rapper Lowkey told students to stand firm in their commitment to justice. He emphasised the importance of student campaigning, pointing out that commitments from universities given after "Fossil Free" divestment campaigns will cost the fossil fuel industry £11 billion.
Huda Ammori, campaigns officer at Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said:
This conference shows students' commitment to drive companies complicit in Israeli apartheid and environmental destruction off their campuses. Students have left the conference equipped to strengthen their divestment campaigns.
Jimmy Hall, an environmental divestment campaigner from the University of Swansea, said: "Today was incredible. It shows the strength of feeling among students up and down the country. While many universities have so-called ethical divestment policies, we know they're not good enough. We're already planning for joint protests for ethical divestment on our campus – watch this space."