Rising majority of U.S. Jewish community stands for peace

BY:Jewish Committee| May 29, 2024
Rising majority of U.S. Jewish community stands for peace


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

Campus encampments

Student-led campus protests in 2024 have been set in motion on a scale not seen since the anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s, and the anti-Vietnam war protests of the late 1960s.

Protests began at Columbia University in New York City and quickly turned into a series of solidarity encampments of students tenting on quads and other public spaces on campuses, demanding that their institutions divest their enormous portfolios from any financial ties to companies involved in the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, any weapons manufacturers with ties to Israel, and all other Israeli institutions. Columbia for instance has an investment portfolio equivalent to the total GDP of Niger.

The demands follow directly in the footsteps of the anti-South African apartheid movement of the 1980s. These demands quickly took hold across over 100 campuses across the nation and around the world. The tactics also follow in the footsteps of the 2011 wave of Occupy Wall Street public encampments, and have provoked fundamental domestic questions about the declining U.S. institutional support for free speech and basic rights of assembly and protest in the U.S.

The response on the part of university administrations has been swift, brutal, and in many ways unprecedented. Across the country college and university administrations have refused to meet with student protestors and have instead responded with brute force. Police have been sent to break up encampments and arrest students in dozens of highly publicized assaults around the country.

Faculty attempting to protect the student’s right to assemble, legal observers, and press have also been arrested and in many cases, brutally assaulted. This all comes amidst a backdrop of the Biden administration’s shambolic attempt to split the difference between actually cutting off Netanyahu, and thus forcing an end to the carnage, and assuring the right wing that he won’t abandon “our staunchest ally in the Middle East.” This has led to the current schizophrenic Congressional policy of funding humanitarian aid to Gaza while at the same time voting for increased military spending so that Israel can continue to bomb Gaza.

The ultra right

Meanwhile, the ultra right MAGA coalition is attempting to peel off the most right wing segments of the American Jewish community into their coalition by promising to back an even more violent ethnic cleansing campaign if elected, with Michigan Republican congressman Tim Walberg saying outright that Israel’s bombing campaign should “be like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, get it over quick”.

Ultra right provocations abound. Once the anti-war movement began in response to Israel’s brutal bombing campaign against the people of Gaza, the MAGA movement lost no time in dusting off the Joe McCarthy and HUAC playbook. In a series of televised congressional hearings, the U.S. public was treated to the spectacle of fascistic congressional representatives with direct links to white supremacist groups grilling college administrators about their supposed tolerance of anti-semitism.

The ultra-right’s disgusting attempt to conflate opposition to die-hard support of Israel’s murderous policies with being anti-semitic follows a long line of right wing movements in Europe. Fascistic nationalists who themselves commit actual anti-semitic attacks, while draping themselves in the Israeli flag, have been a growing phenomenon for the past 10 years, especially among the European far right. They are now bringing their arguments to the halls of Congress in a thinly veiled form.

The entire right wing play book of the past six months has been to insist that the protests against Israel’s genocidal bombing campaign are anti-Jewish. This is obviously theoretically absurd, but it is also concretely wrong. The Jewish community in the US and everywhere disagrees, and has always disagreed, vehemently about the history of the Zionist movement and the need for and degrees of support necessary for the current state of Israel. An increasing number of us, mainly composed of youth, are rejecting the apartheid and genocide altogether and are demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the occupation.

The successful codification into federal legislation defining anti-Semitism in such a way that any serious criticism of Israeli policy can be denounced as inherently anti-semitic is not only axiomatically insane, but is deeply insulting to the broad anti-zionist political and religious traditions which have always existed in the Jewish community, and were in fact widely dominant before the Nazi Holocaust.

Even Jerry Nadler, (a staunch supporter of Israel) felt compelled to speak out against the law because a large portion of his constituency in Brooklyn are Satmar Hassids, who oppose the existence of the current state of Israel on religious grounds. Passing such a law criminalizes a core tenet of their religious beliefs. This is just one example among many, of the absurdities engendered by this cynical legislation.

Jewish community response

Groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice have been taking the lead across the country in the protest movement against the Netanyahu/Ben Gvir genocide of the Palestinians, and many Jewish students and activists have been disproportionately represented amongst those arrested and brutalized.

Indeed, organized sectors of the progressive American Jewish community have, for many years, stood with Palestinian organizations at the forefront of the movement for a ceasefire, to end the occupation, to free Palestinian political prisoners, divest from the US/Israeli war machine and force Israel to comply with international law.

So it should come as no surprise that progressive American Jewish students and faculty have also been at the forefront of the campus occupations. To name just one of the most dramatic examples, the tenured head of the Jewish Studies department at Dartmouth College was recently brutalized and arrested for lending her support to that campus occupation.

As the Jewish Collective, we proclaim our deep opposition to laws which equate opposing the state or the policies of the state of Israel with anti-semitism. We know it itself a cynical anti-semitic ploy which seeks to erase Jewish community opposition to the policies of the State of Israel, and to deny the long historic existence of anti-zionist Judaism whether religious or political which was in fact the majoritarian position within the Jewish community world wide until the 1970s.

We must fight for our true collective history and fight against the criminalization of 1st amendment rights currently being carried out so cynically in the name of our safety.


    Jewish Committee of the Communist Party USA

Related Articles

For democracy. For equality. For socialism. For a sustainable future and a world that puts people before profits. Join the Communist Party USA today.

Join Now

We are a political party of the working class, for the working class, with no corporate sponsors or billionaire backers. Join the generations of workers whose generosity and solidarity sustains the fight for justice.

Donate Now

CPUSA Mailbag

If you have any questions related to CPUSA, you can ask our experts
  • QHow does the CPUSA feel about the current American foreign...
  • AThanks for a great question, Conlan.  CPUSA stands for peace and international solidarity, and has a long history of involvement...
Read More
Ask a question
See all Answer