OPIRG YORK STATEMENT: GAZA UNDER ATTACK
The Ontario Public Interest Research Group at York University (OPIRG York) strongly condemns Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza. Since the start of the war on October 7, at least 4,200 people have been killed, over one million have been displaced, and large parts of the Gaza Strip have been reduced to rubble. On Tuesday evening (EST), we saw the bombing of a fully functioning and staffed Al Ahli hospital that alone has killed at least 500 people, including patients and healthcare workers providing essential and urgent care. These attacks on the people, institutions, and infrastructure of Gaza, exacerbated by Israel’s siege of the territory, constitute an egregious form of collective punishment that academics and activists now warn are genocidal in scope. We join humanitarian and human rights organizations around the world in calling for an immediate ceasefire, an end to Israel’s current blockade of Gaza and the 16-year siege, and a prisoners’ exchange. We view these as necessary first steps, designed to prevent the loss of more lives and to lay the groundwork for comprehensive negotiations aimed at ending Israel’s apartheid regime and illegal occupation and recognizing Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
As a student-led and funded organization focused on social and environmental justice, we unequivocally condemn all acts of terrorism and state-sanctioned violence that target any civilians. We mourn the loss of Israeli civilian lives claimed in Hamas’ initial assault, and those killed, wounded, and bereaved in Gaza. However, mourning is not sufficient. We call on all people of good conscience to see in these events but one more reason that the decades-long policies of dispossession, occupation, and apartheid that are at the root of the violence and atrocity, be forcefully challenged, and ultimately dismantled.
Today, we reaffirm our unwavering support for the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which OPIRG York had previously endorsed. We call on York University to publicly denounce Israel’s assault on Gaza and call for an immediate ceasefire, which it has yet to do. We remind York that to appear silent on what is unfolding in Gaza contradicts its own commitment to Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2023-2028; as a publicly-funded institution for higher education, it must reject all forms of racism, including anti-Palestinian racism. As students, we call for York to release funds and resources to ensure the mental health and physical safety for all students – particularly Palestinians – and to end any partnerships with the Israeli state and state-funded academic/ research institutions immediately. We commit ourselves to supporting students and the broader community by assisting with research and resources, providing access to peer-reviewed reading materials, visuals, and graphics. Our staff and board are committed to receiving with urgency requests to fund student-led Palestine solidarity initiatives such as teach-ins and other activities. We encourage our broader community to support efforts and communities on the ground by donating to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – UNWRA – and / or Medical Aid for Palestine.
RESOURCES: IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE
Interested in learning more about what is happening in Gaza? We’ve compiled a list of multidisciplinary resources (not exhaustive by any means) that provide both historial context and more contemporary analysis of the current situation. We hope that through lists such as these, we can learn together and feel empowered to take collective action. We will be updating this list frequently.
If you are a community member or group, or a York U almunus, and do not have access to York University library systems, we would be happy to provide you with any of the listed resources or additional ones that are not open source. Please email email@example.com if you have a specific resource in mind.
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Illan Pappe
The Question of Palestine by Edward Said
Justice for Some by Noura Erakat
DISORIENTATION WEEK 2023: A WEEK IN REVIEW
A big thank you to the facilitators, volunteers and you, our participants, who made DisOrientation Week 2023 a great success! Here’s a round-up of our week.
DisOrientation Week kicked off with a two day Intergenerational Activist Gathering. Here, in the workshop Get Organized to Make Change Happen! we learned about effective collective organizing from the fabulous Kate Klein. We talked about tools for knowing your capacity, pleasure activism, and we practiced 4 different ways of saying “no” in the workshop ‘How To Show-Up Fully: Communication Tools and Skills for Activists! facilitated by OPIRG York Volunteer Coordinator, Emily Green. During our Intergenerational Activist Gathering lunch hour we learned how to silkscreen, and printed on some up-cycled shirts.
Lauren Champagne and Negus Taylor led us in a walking tour of the Keele campus, and we learned about some of the significant events that have shaped our university campus and student life. Read about the event here.
Anna Lippman and Jennifer Cole facilitated the workshop Grassy Narrows Solidarity and the Land Alliance, which offered context and history to the Land Alliance, especially focused on the community of Grassy Narrows. Later in the week, York students formed a solidarity contingent and joined March For the Land.
We hosted a screening of The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, a feature-length documentary that presents the remarkable life story of the Gandhian eco-activist and agro-ecologist, Vandana Shiva.
The week ended with the Director of the Maloca Community Garden, Phyllis Novak, leading us in a plant dying workshop. We used sunny marigold flowers and the deep purple of log wood to create beautiful flag designs for the garden!
We hope you learned as much as we did from these events. We look forward to your feedback so that we can curate an even stronger program next year!
JOIN OUR GROUPS, ACTIONS & CAMPAIGNS
JOIN AN ACTION GROUP
All of our existing Action Groups are open to receiving new members!
Each group works autonomously on anti-oppressive, anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, and environmental justice campaigns and issues. Whether your vision for a just future centers around socialism, anarchism, anti-colonialism and anti-racism, just climate transitions—OPIRG wants to resource and nurture your work toward justice! Learn more about our present Action Groups and consider applying for the next Action Group application cycle here.
TOGETHER AGAINST APARTHEID PLEDGE
Major human rights organizations, faith leaders, politicians and millions of people around the world agree: Israel is practicing apartheid. It’s time to stop it.
Join OPIRG York in signing this pledge and stand #TogetherAgainstApartheid.
This pledge will be used to demonstrate to world leaders that a growing number of people recognize the injustice of Israel’s policies and are standing together against apartheid, and that we expect them to do the same.
SUPPORT YOUR STUDENT UNION TODAY!
On October 12th, three student unions at York University released a statement of solidarity with Palestine. Days later, in an abhorrently anti-democratic act, York University announced it would be pursuing formal action against the unions, demanding that the unions retract the statement, issue a public statement to confirm that they do not support antisemitism, and all members resign. The University threatens to place further sanctions against the unions, the most severe of which would be withdrawing their recognition, if the unions do not comply with the above demands or, otherwise, demonstrate that no breach of the Regulation Regarding Student Organizations occurred in their statement.
In response to the university administration’s threats to the student unions, York students have come together to form the Union Solidarity Front to support our unions. We have drafted a petition and are asking York community members to sign it, as well as attend a rally in Vari Hall on October 25th at 5pm to demonstrate the York community’s anger and disapproval of the administration’s anti-democratic attack.
Please sign this petition and attend the rally to show your support for your student union today!