We Will NOT Be Silenced!

On April 29, the administration of Columbia University in New York City gave an ultimatum to students who are active in opposition to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, demanding they abandon their encampment or be suspended. In response, student activists have occupied one of Columbia’s main halls, renaming it “Hind’s Hall” after Hind Rajab, a 6-year-old Palestinian girl killed by Israeli forces in January.

For the past two weeks, inspired by Columbia’s actions, encampments have been established at universities across the country. At school after school, the police have been called in to break up the peaceful camps, with viral videos circulating online of police attacking student activists. In the face of this, resistance has increased at campuses across the U.S. and students are not backing down. This wave of resistance has even spread to students abroad, as encampments have formed at universities in Canada and in Paris, France.

In the U.S., university officials have been joined by politicians, both Democrat and Republican, with President Biden and House Speaker, Mike Johnson, and Trump joining the attack on students’ right to discuss and exercise their freedom of speech and assembly.

Their labeling of peaceful protests by students as being “antisemitic” and openly supporting the assault on students’ rights is not surprising. This attack on students justifies the role these politicians play in maintaining the system of oppression in the Middle East. Israel is imperialism’s cop in the region, protecting the geopolitical and financial (oil) interests of the large corporations. Both Biden and Johnson were instrumental in recently passing legislation that will send another $26.3 billion of military aid to Israel. Biden praised this support for this continuing genocide as bering a “good day for world peace”.

Bombing and systematically starving people, denying them access to medical supplies, and bombing their hospitals, is NOT a path to “peace”.

Increasing numbers of people, are becoming aware of the brutality of this system and the role of those who support and fuel this criminal assault on the Palestinian people. The U.N. and humanitarian organizations throughout the world have condemned this genocidal war. We, who oppose this brutality, are standing with the world community.

We are witnessing a program of systemic genocide and it must be opposed. The claim of rampant antisemitism is a cheap cover. And it minimizes the reality of the real impact of antisemitism in the U.S. and other parts of the world. They want to prevent this movement from growing. Were the hundreds of Jewish anti-war protesters who were recently arrested for holding a Passover Seder near Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer’s house antisemitic? Of course not! They are caring human beings, opposed to the horrors carried out in the name of Jewish people. Anti-Zionism is NOT anti-Semitism!

Those in positions of power don’t want the continued exposure of the link of universities and colleges to Israel’s war machine. In the same way Google has tried to silence opposition to its contracts with the Israeli government and military, by firing 50 of its employees who demonstrated their opposition.

Those who hold power have the armed force to break up encampments and demonstrations and even to try to silence our discussions. But they don’t have the power to force us to accept the horrors the system they represent and defend imposes on the world.

In fact, they have achieved the opposite and provided an invaluable education to hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of people across this country. Those who control the universities and colleges have exposed the true goals of the education they want to provide – to indoctrinate young people to accept the realities of this system and be satisfied with the privileges they hope their education will confer. Those in power have also demonstrated that the force they use to maintain their control around the world will be used here as well.

They have taught people who have become activated, the power of collective action. And they have reinforced the old saying that, “If you don’t stand for something – you will fall for anything.”

It is possible that the protests will ignite more thoughtful discussion in the larger population and lead to widening actions across the country, especially among workers who could exert their economic power and begin to pose a real challenge to this system.

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