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Students Show Support For Palestine During VUW Graduations This Week

Victoria University of Wellington graduates plan to show support for Palestine during graduation ceremonies and parades this week, from Tuesday 14th to Thursday 16th May. Students will wear keffiyeh and other symbols of solidarity with Palestine to call attention to the ongoing genocide, the destruction of all universities in Gaza, and Nakba Day this Wednesday.

One graduating student and member of Student Justice for Palestine Pōneke says “I'm choosing to wear keffiyeh for every student in Palestine who has had their graduation and their future needlessly taken from them”.

Another graduating student says “Graduation is a worthy celebration, but there is room in celebration—vital room—for bearing witness to the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. I don’t want to graduate without showing solidarity with my Palestinian colleagues, both in Gaza and the West Bank, and in the diaspora.”

Graduation week falls over the 76th anniversary of the Nakba (“the Catastrophe”) when hundreds of thousands Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and forcibly removed from their lands to make way for the establishment of the state of Israel.

This Nakba Day, Wednesday 15th May, Student Justice for Palestine (SJP) Pōneke are holding a teach-in at Victoria University of Wellington about the Nakba and the ongoing genocide of Palestinians.

 Alternative Jewish Voices co-founder Marilyn Garson and a Palestinian student-activist will be speaking, and the event will be facilitated and supported by VUW staff members.

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Staff at VUW have expressed support for these actions, citing the escalating violence in Rafah and its timing this week. Faisal Al-Asaad, a member of staff at the University, says that “Israel has been engaged in a heavily-documented process of scholasticide, having destroyed every university in Gaza, and having now killed over a hundred academics, many in a targeted fashion. It’s the responsibility of every academic to act in solidarity with colleagues and students, here and in Palestine”.

SJP Pōneke have said “We will commemorate the Nakba by recognising that it never ended, that we have been witnessing the ongoing slaughter of tens of thousands of Palestinians in their own homeland, and their continued struggle against apartheid and settler colonialism.”

SJP Pōneke have also expressed solidarity with the ongoing protests in North America. Over the past two weeks, student encampments have proliferated across university campuses in the US and Canada in protest over the complicity of these institutions with the genocide. In addition, students and staff have staged actions during graduation ceremonies to pressure their university leadership and to bring attention to the escalating violence. This movement has articulated a clear set of demands, including the disclosure of any information relating to financial partnerships with the Israeli state, and immediate divestment therefrom. SJP Pōneke have echoed these demands, and urge university leadership at VUW to do the same.

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