A May 1 visit to Deakin University by PM Kevin Rudd was met with a small but very vocal demonstration by students campaigning for an end to Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people.
Rudd was in Geelong to open Deakin University's new medical school, a ceremony attended by 200 guests at the Deakin Waurn Ponds campus. Among those attending was Victorian Premier John Brumby, Deakin vice-chancellor Professor Sally Walker and the school's first 120 students.
The invitation-only event was housed in a huge tent that had been erected in the centre of campus. Most staff and students at Deakin were left in the dark about the details of Rudd's visit.
Members of Resistance and the newly formed Deakin University Students for Palestine group organised a demonstration to protest Rudd's decision to pass a motion in federal parliament hailing the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, an event referred to by Palestinians as al Nakba ("the Catastrophe"). The establishment of Israel resulted in 945,000 Palestinians being registered as refugees by the UN in 1950. Today, there are more than 4 million Palestinian refugees registered with the UN.
Students For Palestine is a broad-based group that brings together students committed to justice for the Palestinian people and an end to the apartheid practices of the Israeli state.
The group has begun a campaign to get the university and the Deakin University Student Association to sign onto the international academic boycott of Israeli universities. This boycott is part of the broader international Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign that was started by 175 civic organisations within occupied Palestine in 2005.
Students for Palestine has also organised an al Nakba speak-out and film showing, scheduled for May 15.