Campus ceasefire protests deserve support: Keep the pressure on!

BY:Communist Party USA| April 23, 2024
Campus ceasefire protests deserve support: Keep the pressure on!


The Communist Party USA salutes the university student protests and occupations as they struggle for a ceasefire in Gaza for divestment from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Keep the pressure on!  We denounce in the strongest possible terms the repression and arrests of the protesters, at Columbia, Yale, NYU the University of Michigan and other universities where hundreds have been jailed and suspended at the behest of university administrators. We support the constitutional and democratic right for students, youth, and workers to organize and protest against the Israeli-led genocidal war in Gaza. We echo their demands for an immediate ceasefire, as well as an end to US institutional and material support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. U.S. military support for Israel must stop now!

This crackdown follows a number of congressional hearings targeting elite private university presidents, professors and trustees. Starting late last year, these hearings have been led by the MAGA-right and claim to be concerned with antisemitism on campus. In reality, they were an effort to silence protests not only against Israel’s genocide in Palestine, but also the role of the United States in financing, arming, and providing diplomatic cover for such a crime.

Pressured by wealthy donors to elite universities and congressional campaigns alike, representatives once again dragged out the bloated corpse of McCarthyism. In response, presidents of Harvard and University of Pennsylvania – both women, one of whom was the first queer Black president of Harvard – resigned, triggering an avalanche of firings and disciplinary actions against professors, mainly those without tenure, across the country. Some universities banned Palestinian and Jewish-led student groups leading protests on campus, forcing activists underground and escalating tensions. Amid concerns about antisemitism, politicians, administrators, and media ignore the fact that a significant number of students and faculty protesting against the genocide in Gaza are Jewish.

Alarmingly,  university administrations are moving to the right, an exceedingly dangerous trend given the ongoing MAGA threat.

Clearly these attacks are linked to the attack on affirmative action and the student tuition debt crisis. Students have a direct stake in fighting Israeli apartheid and occupation because their fees help pay for it. This is the reason why student governments are passing divestment resolutions all across the country.

The latest congressional hearings last week focused on Columbia University in New York City, where both Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voices for Peace are currently banned. Nemat Shafik, the first Arab American president of Columbia, withered under a barrage of ridiculous questioning. As articulated by the outspoken support of these hearings by the extreme right, there is a political agenda to blame university Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) politics for the wave of support for Palestine, as well as to equate support for Palestine with terrorism. We note that this is not an attack on higher education led by Jewish-Americans who are pro-Israel, but by big business, Christian Zionists, and the MAGA right.

The only representative who asked Nemat Shafik about the safety of Muslim and Arab protesters on campus was Ilhan Omar. The next day, Omar’s daughter, Barnard sophomore Isra Hirsi, was suspended from campus and evicted from student housing, along with two other student organizers. Later that day, the university called in the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group, a counter-terrorism squad used mainly to crack down on protests, who arrested more than 100 students in their day-old protest encampment at Columbia. In response, more encampments were launched at other universities across the country, including more in New York. More than 2000 members of Columbia faculty and staff walked out on Monday to protest the mass arrests of their students, many also calling for Columbia to divest from the Israeli war machine. If the Columbia trustees were seeking to de-escalate, ensure the safety of the student body, or even return to business as usual, their crackdown accomplished the exact opposite.

University education is not simply learned in the classroom. Students and youth are dynamic forces for change in society, as evidenced by their historic role in protest movements for peace, civil rights, and democracy in the United States and elsewhere. Capitalists, imperialists, and their elected officials on retainer attempt to quell such movements, by focusing their efforts on the youth, and therefore, their institutions of community and learning, as well as their workplaces. But the youth and student movements for a ceasefire and free Palestine  will not be quelled as the protests over the last several months have proven. Their allies in the labor, civil rights, and peace movements must make their voices heard!

NY Governor Kathy Hochul is under pressure from MAGA-right politicians and big business to send in the National Guard to take over Columbia University. Such an unforced error would result in disaster. National Guard mobilizations against students protesting the Vietnam war in 1970 resulted in the Kent State massacre. Elite universities like Columbia and Yale are sites of where the ruling class seeks to groom their next generation of leaders. The fact that these students are loudly refusing to accept such a task sends a chill down the spine of those who maintain a system built on war and exploitation. They remind the Pentagon and Wall Street that a better world – one built on the principles of peace, equality, and democracy – is not only possible, but necessary.

We support the constitutional and democratic right for students, youth, and workers to organize and protest against the Israeli-led genocidal war in Gaza. We encourage readers to spread the word among their social networks, friends, and neighbors and to contact their elected officials and demand they put a stop to this aggression against students and workers. We echo student and worker demands for an immediate ceasefire, as well as an end to US institutional and material support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Keep the pressure on! In fact,  turn it up!


Photo: National Students for Justice in Palestine.


    The Communist Party USA is a  revolutionary working-class  political party founded in 1919 in Chicago, IL. The Communist Party stands for the interests of the American working class and the American people. It stands for our interests in both the present and the future. Solidarity with workers of other countries is also part of our work. We work in coalition with the labor movement, the peace movement, the student movement, organizations fighting for equality and social justice, the environmental movement, immigrants rights groups and the health care for all campaign. But to win a better life for working families, we believe that we must go further. We believe that the American people can replace capitalism with a system that puts people before profit — socialism. We are rooted in our country's revolutionary history and its struggles for democracy. We call for "Bill of Rights" socialism, guaranteeing full individual freedoms.

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