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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

McGill student hospitalized after 34-day hunger strike for Palestine

The intensity of their demonstration took a concerning turn when Rania Amine, who had been on hunger strike for 34 days, fainted on Saturday.

McGill University, known for its prestigious academic programs, has recently been thrust into the spotlight as students take a stand against the university’s investment practices. In a bid to pressure McGill to divest from companies supporting the Israeli military and end associations with Israeli universities, students have embarked on a hunger strike. Their demands highlight the ongoing conflict in Palestine and raise questions about ethical investment in higher education institutions.

Students’ Hunger Strike for Divestment

Rania Amine, a determined undergraduate student at McGill University, took a bold step on February 19 by embarking on an indefinite hunger strike. Her resolve was echoed by another student, identified as “Chadi,” who joined her in the protest. Together, they aimed to pressure McGill University into severing ties with companies either directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli military and to halt collaboration with Israeli academic institutions. However, the intensity of their demonstration took a concerning turn when Rania Amine, who had been on hunger strike for 34 days, fainted on Saturday, prompting her immediate hospitalization, as reported by Middle East Eye. This unexpected event highlighted the physical toll of their protest, yet it also highlighted the unwavering dedication of these students to their cause. Despite the setback, their movement has garnered momentum, with approximately 15 other students rotating in and out of hunger strikes since its inception.

Read More: Google employee fired after staging pro-Palestine protest at tech event: Report

Financial Ties to Defense Companies

McGill’s financial investments, totaling around $20 million, include holdings in defense companies like Safran and Lockheed Martin, which have supplied equipment to the Israeli military. The students assert that these investments indirectly contribute to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Citing Moral Imperatives

For the hunger strikers, the issue extends beyond financial concerns. They argue that McGill’s association with Israeli institutions contradicts ethical principles and perpetuates human rights violations. The referendum held in November 2023, where the majority of students voted in favor of condemning Israel’s actions and divesting from related companies, emphasizes the moral imperative driving the movement.

Challenges and Campus Climate

Chadi, one of the hunger strikers, highlighted the pervasive influence of Zionist narratives within McGill’s academic environment. Despite the university’s recent divestment from fossil fuel companies and its commitment to addressing the climate crisis, it has yet to act decisively on the issue of Israeli-linked investments. Students allege that McGill’s inaction reflects either a lack of urgency or indifference toward Palestinian lives.

Read More: ICJ hearings on Israel’s occupation of Palestine conclude

McGill University responded to the hunger strike by expressing concern for the students’ well-being and emphasizing established procedures for addressing investment concerns. However, the students remain steadfast in their demands, drawing parallels to McGill’s past divestment from apartheid-era South Africa. They assert that divesting from Israeli-linked funds aligns with McGill’s values and ethical responsibilities.