Category Archives: Campaign

Sheffield Remembers The Nakba in 2024

An inspiring march and rally on Saturday May 11th as Sheffield remembers the Nakba and stands with Palestinians as the attacks on Rafah intensify.


Below is a great summary of the Nakba and its meaning today, taken from a speech by long time activist for justice in Palestine, Paul Kelemen, at our rally in Sheffield on Saturday May 2024.

This year’s Nakba Day has a special meaning, a special significance:

  • Palestinians are again subjected to ethnic cleansing and mass murder; 
  • We are again seeing unarmed Palestinians fleeing on foot and on carts, in the face of savage bombardments, just as they as they were forced to do from Dec 1947 to the first few months of 1949.

Then, as now, the Palestinian resistance had to fight without much support from the neighbouring states.  In Zionist mythology it is said that the Zionist militias had to withstand 5 Arab armies.  

The truth is that the neighbouring Arab states led by Western stooges made largely token gestures at fighting to placate their own public. The King of Jordan, the only leader with a serious military clout had an army run by British officers. He made a deal with the  Zionists to carve up Palestine, which is what the British wanted. 

After the 1948, it became the standard defence for Israel to claim that it had to be established because Jewish people could find safety only by having their own state.

It is true, that the during the rise of fascism the so called liberal democracies did not want to open their doors to large numbers of persecuted Jewish people.  But people who seek refuge don’t become colonisers merely by taking refuge in another country – instead they settle down amongst the people living in that place.  

It was the Zionist movement which turned the Jewish people who went to Palestine into colonisers, by recruiting them into a project which involved Jewish immigrants being given land taken from the Palestinians and being given jobs and resources that were denied to the Palestinians.  

The same colonisation process is now being implemented in the West Bank and it is also the goal that Israel is pursuing in Gaza.  By reducing Gaza to rubble, by making it unliveable, Israel is hoping to push out its population.  

The Naqba has never ended.

Although there are haunting parallels between Israel’s current genocide and the 1948 massacres and expulsion, there is also a very important difference.  

In 1948, there were no public protests at the expulsion of 750,00 Palestinians.  

In Western countries, it barely registered on public consciousness.  In the UK, no political party or organisation spoke out for the Palestinians.  To give but one example. Prior to 1948, Labour party conferences had passed 11 resolutions in support of the Zionist movement. They mostly repeated the Zionist argument that Jewish settlement would also benefit the Palestinians. 

In the autumn of 1949, as the traumatised Palestinian refugees were sheltering in refugee camps some under tents but most under trees, with little to eat or drink, the Labour Party had its annual conference.  About the destruction of Palestine, not a single word was uttered at the conference.  

It is not an exaggeration to say that for about 20 years after Israel’s establishment in 1948, in Western countries, the Palestinians were forgotten.  Their ethnic cleansing was covered up by thick layers of mythology about Israel finding a barely populated land. 

In this respect there is a fundamental difference between the lack of an international response to the Nakba, and the popular mobilisation on the side of the Palestinians against Israel’s current genocidal war.  Completely unexpectedly to Israel and its allies, this has opened up a second front in the Palestinian struggle. 

Some of the most significant anti-colonial struggles in the past century, as in Kenya, in Algeria and in Vietnam were won because the moral authority of the coloniser collapsed. And it collapsed in the imperial centres as well as globally because of the resistance of the colonised but also because of the international protest movements which that resistance provoked.  

A sure sign of this happening now, is that the likes of Biden, Sunak and Starmer are now desperately trying to recover the moral high ground, by feigning concern over Israel’s attack on Rafah.  

But even as they make great play of their concern, they continue to supply Israel with weapons, to demonise the Palestinian resistance and to accuse us, who refuse to turn a blind eye to genocide, of being motivated by racism.

 The truth is that it is their racism that has been exposed. They incite hatred against migrants and pretend to shed tears over Ukrainians to expand NATO to Russia’s border, but they believe that massacring Palestinians is something we should quietly accept.

In contrast to the total moral bankruptcy of Western leaders, the people of Gaza have kept their unity.  In the midst of the grief, the stress and the shortages, they might have turned against each other. They have not.  

In military terms, the Palestinians cannot match the most advanced US, German and British weaponry supplied to the IDF, but they do not have to win on the battlefield.  

They and the international solidarity movement can and are winning the political battle.  

There is a long struggle ahead but after 76 years the political tide has turned. The task for us, is to make British complicity with Israel into a mainstream political issue and to build a powerful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. 

That is the least we owe to Palestinians in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Israel, in exile here among us and around the world

 who have continued fighting for their people’s liberation 

They have demonstrated that the Westen imperial order can be defied and discredited and that there are people everywhere willing to join the fight to defeat racism and colonialism. 

Students’ mass encampment for Palestine

Students at the University of Sheffield have today (1 May 2024) begun a mass encampment in solidarity with the Palestinian people and in protest against allegations of their university’s complicity in Israeli apartheid and the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. The day started with planned walk-outs of lectures and teaching activities, followed by a demonstration. As the demonstration neared its end, students could be seen setting up tents and gazebos outside university buildings. Combined with solidarity encampments created by students at the Universities of Warwick and Edinburgh last week, this marks the spread of the tactics of the American student movement (as seen at Columbia and at least 30 other US institutions) to the UK. Multiple other coordinated encampments are expected imminently.

The protests are led by the Sheffield Campus Coalition for Palestine (SCCP), a coalition of staff, students, and alumni from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. They are backed by staff members,  local trades unionists, and community groups such as Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Jews Against Israeli Apartheid. The latter have issued a statement of support, saying they welcome the walk out and  ‘call on all students and staff to do so and resolve to hold their University to account for its complicity with the genocide perpetrated by Israel in Palestine’.

Student demonstrators point to the role played by the university’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in manufacturing the F-35 combat aircraft used by the Israeli military. The AMRC boasts that its ‘novel, fully automated manufacturing process’ has been used to provide ‘critical fuselage panels’ for more than 500 F-35 Lightning II aircraft, saving arms manufacturer BAE Systems £15 million in costs in the process. A Dutch court recently ordered the country’s government to immediately suspend all exports of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, due to concerns that they were being used to violate international law.

A student spokesperson for SCCP said: ‘The university can house decolonial lecturers in their theatres whilst simultaneously profiting off settler-colonial projects. But now the fig leaf has fallen, revealing the University of Sheffield not as an academic institution, but rather as a brazen hub for weapons manufacturers. Most egregiously, the University has been found to have helped streamline and produce the very instruments of warfare Israel used in its ruthless and indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza. It is for that reason that we students have come to charge the university with complicity in the genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza. Our demand is clear: divest now.’

The university’s involvement in F-35 production is part of a pattern of close ties with the arms industry. In 2022, a freedom of information request (FOI) revealed that the University of Sheffield took at least £72 million in investment from the arms trade over the preceding decade. This level of investment is exceptionally high in the context of British higher education. Last year openDemocracy reported that Sheffield University received more defence funding than any other institution, taking over £42m, while Oxford and Cambridge took £17m and £10m respectively.

University of Sheffield Lecturer, Dr Lisa Stampnitzky, said ‘I am proud to see our students taking a stand and joining this worldwide movement against the ongoing genocide in Gaza.   Our university needs to confirm its commitment to be an ethical institution and divest itself of ties to the development of weapons used to perpetrate atrocities.’

Students have expressed concerns about the influence exerted by these companies on the university’s research agenda and teaching. The protesters draw attention to the AMRC’s membership scheme, which allows private companies to mould research priorities, and to the role played by Industrial Advisory Boards (IABs) in some university departments.[1] Both feature representation from arms companies.


[1] See https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/aerospace/about/industry/partners#AerospaceIndustrialAdvisoryBoard; https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/eee/about/working-industry.

SCCP Demands: 

Divest (سحب العلاقات): We call on the University of Sheffield to divest from weapons manufacturing. The University should not be aiding in supplying instruments of warfare to a genocidal state.

Boycott (مقاطعة): We demand that the institution sever all ties to Israeli universities. Israeli academic institutions have long served as pillars of Israel’s system of oppression against Palestinians, with many universities utterly entangled in the violent machinery of Palestinian dispossession, occupation, incarceration, surveillance, siege and most recently genocide.  

Accountability (مساءلة): We hold the University of Sheffield accountable for their complicity in the genocide of the Palestinian people. The campus community demands that the University agree to a meeting with students and staff.

Solidarity – but with who?

On 6th March the Sheffield Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid presented a petition signed by over 7500 Sheffield citizens at a full council meeting. They refused to debate the issue – even though 7500 was well above the threshold number required of 5000 – passing it to the Strategy and Resources committee, as we have reported previously. Instead they committed to issuing ‘a cross-party statement of solidarity’

This statement was issued on 25th March. It is completely inadequate. It does not even mention Palestine in the title so who it is in solidarity with is perplexing and the word Palestinian does not get a mention in the document itself.

This is in complete disregard to the swell of opinion in Sheffield in support of Palestine and in complete contrast to the statement of support for Ukraine.

The council and your councillor is letting us down. We urge you to vote in the local elections on May 5th for the candidate that most sympathetic with Palestine.

You can read the council statement here . You can read the full Coalition response here.

Here are some questions you can put to your candidate

  • Do you accept Amnesty International’s designation of Israel as a state practising Apartheid across historic Palestine?  YES / NO
  • Do you agree with the International Court of Justice that credible evidence exists that Israel is committing the crime of Genocide in Gaza? YES / NO
  • Do you support the International Court of Justice’s inquiry into the legal consequences of the 57 year long Israeli Occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan? YES /NO
  • Do you support the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement? YES/NO

The Big South Yorkshire rally Saturday 20th and station protest 19th April

Now that Israel’s missile attack on diplomatic residence in Damascus has succeeded in stopping the airtime given to the famine in and destruction of for Gaza it is vital we do what we can to keep the genocide in the public eye.

We will have Sheffield Station protest 5pm Friday 19th April. These are really popular and get a huge response from passers by.

And please join our big spring South Yorkshire rally on Saturday 20th April

Actions for April 12th and 13th

This weekend we will mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day which officially falls on the 18th April.

Since the October war started 6 months ago over 9400 Palestinians are held captive as political prisoners ( see https://www.addameer.org/ ).

Both in the west ban and in Gaza, there has been widespread testimony of torture (https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/11/israel-opt-horrifying-cases-of-torture-and-degrading-treatment-of-palestinian-detainees-amid-spike-in-arbitrary-arrests/)

Please bring something you can use as a blindfold if you would like to join in.

Sheffield protests will not stop!

Really great turn out all through this weekend to ensure Palestinian voices continue to be heard .

(All photographs here from Bill Stewardson)

At the train station on Friday, once again we had a moving tribute to all those health workers who have been killed by the Israeli invasion and before that a well supported protest at the top of the station concourse.

And in town on Saturday a key speech oin our short rally was given by Sarah who told us about three actions we can take to support Palestinian football

  • First Action – you can follow Palestine Football here
  • Second Action – You can contact FIFA to call for them to expel the IFA  here
  • Third Action – you can follow Anwar El Ghazi / Sam Morsy / Bohemians on Twitter here: @elghazi1995, @sammorsy08, @bfcdublin

You can read her speech here

Mobile boycott

We then went to Marks and Spencers removed all the Israeli produce from the shelves before walking out to the crowd you can see here in the reflection

Three Days of action this weekend 5th to 7th April

As Israel pleads the ‘most moral army in the world’ has made a terrible mistake when it has killed some white people, let us make sure the voice for Palestine is heard clearly in Sheffield.

When the complicit and racist governments of the West try to unglue themselves from being seen holding the bloody hands of the Israeli government, let us make sure the voice for Palestine is heard clearly in Sheffield.

When Suella Braverman, the arch backer of genocide, declares with no understanding of the deep irony ‘this is the time to stand with Israel if we believe in democracy and human rights’ let us make sure the voice for Palestine is heard clearly in Sheffield.

Join us on

  • Friday at the train station, for a protest and then the weekly moving tribute to the most targeted group of workers, Gazan health workers;
  • on Saturday in front of the Town Hall for a rally at midday
  • on Sunday to cheer on Sheffield Half Marathon runners who are running for Gaza look out for their signs and wave flags: we are suggesting a couple of places 1/ bottom of Knowle Lane as they turn right off Ecclesall Rd South on the way out. Runners will be coming past there from about 9.50 onwards. 2/ Charter Row, near the junction with Fitzwilliam St from about 10.30 onwards.

Solidarity events 15th and 16th March

Join us please for two solidarity events this weekend. with people forced to starvation in the North of Gaza and the constant threat of a land force invasion of Rafah we must continue to stand with Palestinian people.

In particular the boycott action at Waitrose is essential. They have taken a commercialist position without morals. They seem to be happy to be complicit with a genocide we are witnessing today.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

Questions to Strategy and Resources Committee March 12th

As we have reported elsewhere the council has tried to duck any action and responsibility for setting a moral climate in this city by referring the petition signed by 7500 people to the Strategy and Resources Committee.

We are sending three questions to Strategy and Resources Committee March 12th 2024:

Question One

As we understand it, Strategy and Resources is the committee charged with debating matters of “significant strategic importance” and for considering “any policy matter not otherwise allocated to a committee.”

In the light of this, we note that the drafting of a statement of unity and solidarity, agreed in full Council on March 6th, has not been referred to a committee per se, but to a “cross-party group”. Our questions relate to that group.

  • When will this group meet?
  • What is the composition of that group to be?

Matters pertaining to the composition of the group:

In a previous cross-party group of three, a decision was taken by two of the three members to fly the Israeli flag on October 10th 2023. Other West Yorkshire Councils chose to fly the peace flag, so discretion was an option.

  • Would it be appropriate to reconvene only this group of three, given a past decision by two of them to adopt a partisan position?
  • Would it be appropriate to include a member who said on March 6th (inter alia)” …Passing a resolution at Sheffield City Council in November didn’t bring about a ceasefire… If you really think that passing a resolution is going to change the situation on the ground, I have to disagree with you.” ?

Does this committee agree that those utterances suggest a lack of understanding of:

  • the central importance of statements of moral leadership to the role of elected representatives?
  • the way that this builds confidence in the electorate that those elected to serve have high moral integrity?

Can we assure petitioners that the composition of the cross-party group will be made up of members who:

  • inspire confidence that they are equal to the task and understand the clear brief of producing a “statement of unity and solidarity with the Palestinian people”
  • Reflect the supportive tone of Councillors’ contributions in the chamber on March 6th?

Question Two

At the full Council meeting on March 6th , the petition signed by some 7,500 people was discussed. After some intense and revealing debate, it was decided to refer the petition to this committee. Petitioners expressed strong concerns about further delays to the Council’s response to this important petition. They had no option but to
contrast the numerous supportive measures, offered without let or hindrance by the Council, to the Ukrainian people, clearly demonstrated on the city Council’s website.

Unnecessary delays will exacerbate concerns about what is seen as the Council’s selective morality when it comes to some sorely oppressed people, in contrast to others, like Ukrainians.

Community cohesion, often referred to as a priority by Council leadership, cannot be achieved by failure to oppose genocide, apartheid or by flagrant double standards on whose lives we value.

This committee now has the weighty responsibility of discussing further the petition. Our questions today require urgent answers which must then be communicated to the large number of petitioners.

  • What is the time frame for this discussion?
  • Will the matter be tabled for the April 17 th meeting, the agenda of which has not yet been set?
  • How will that discussion be structured? E.g. Will the Strategy and Resources committee consider each element of the petition separately and also reach a determination on them separately (as we understood from comments in Full Council ) ?
  • Will the Strategy and Resources Committee undertake to reach a full decision on all the petition’s elements within that meeting

Question Three

I note that this committee is today considering a report recommending a new flag protocol, and that the report contains a number of days which will be marked by specific flags being flown each year. I note the absence from that list of the United Nations Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, marked on November 29th each year.

General Assembly resolution 32/40B, passed in December 1977, introduced the day of solidarity, and the UN has marked the day ever since. The UN resolution also encourages Member states to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the day of solidarity.

Some of you may not be aware that Sheffield City council flew the Palestinian flag on 29th November each year between 1995 and 2000 but has failed to do so since then.

Recently the leader of the Council has reaffirmed that the Council recognises the State of Palestine. If this is to mean anything at all, it is surely time for the Council to commit to fly the Palestinian flag each November 29th. Will this committee agree to do so?