Once again using the war crime of collective punishment, the State of Israel is carrying out a military offensive against the Gaza Strip and is preparing a large-scale land invasion. After two weeks of constant bombardment of the civilian population and a barrage of war crimes, Israeli attacks have killed more than 5,000 Palestinians, including over 2,000 children. The Zionist state has internally displaced over a million Gazans, and has cut off electricity, water, and gas to the besieged territory.
The Biden administration has unabashedly endorsed the destruction in Gaza. Last week, Biden traveled to Tel Aviv to shake the hands of Zionist government officials who call Palestinians “human animals” where he declared that the U.S. “stands with Israel” and subsequently requested over $14 billion in additional spending from Congress to bolster Israel’s military forces for their war crimes against the Gaza Strip. Once again, there is money to support U.S. imperialism but not to forgive student debt, to fully fund our schools and universities, or to create strong social services.
The U.S. regime has a long history of backing the apartheid state of Israel in order to maintain its influence in the Middle East.
Massive Mobilizations in Solidarity with Palestine
In response to Israel’s attacks, an international movement has sprung up from London — where 300,000 people took the streets — to Germany and France — where thousands of protesters defied government bans on pro-Palestine demonstrations — to the hundreds of thousands of people protesting across the Middle East and North Africa in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Yemen, as well as throughout South America and the Asia-Pacific region. In short, an unprecedented pro-Palestine and anti-Zionist movement is growing all over the world.
Here in the U.S., we are also seeing the emergence of a movement that is not only on the streets but also organizing in workplaces and schools. Healthcare workers and Starbucks workers who make up the new labor phenomena have put out statements in support of Palestine. This movement is developing most dynamically at universities and even high schools, where students and professors have held discussions, written statements, and organized walkouts for Palestine.
Another important aspect of the incipient movement has been the involvement and combativity of Jewish youth, who refuse the bad-faith conflation of Judaism and Zionism. This anti-Zionist Jewish sector has been helping to lead this new movement by organizing disruptive demonstrations in the streets as well as the Capitol Building, and by targeting lawmakers across the country.
In the days after the October 7 Hamas attack and Israel’s subsequent bombings of Gaza, the CUNY administration sent out emails to students and staff about the conflict without even mentioning Palestine or the deaths of Palestinians, much less placing the Hamas attack in the context of the violent Israeli apartheid state and the occupation. CUNY Chancellor Félix Rodríguez’s statement explicitly distanced himself and the university from all pro-Palestine protests and internal organizations, claiming that protests for Palestine were celebrating or supporting Hamas, labeling these CUNY students and workers as somehow separate from “CUNY.” But the reality is that CUNY includes both Israeli and Palestinian students and workers.
We do not share Hamas’ strategy, which seeks to establish a theocratic state, nor do we support its methods, such as the deliberate targeting of civilians. It is important, though, to understand the attacks in the context of 75 years of the oppression, repression, and occupation of Palestine, along with the Israeli apartheid system that curtails Palestinians’ basic rights and snatches their land with a massive military arsenal funded by the United States. The residents of Gaza, where 50 percent of the population are children, are enduring a siege akin to an open-air prison. They are told to leave, only to have their only exit bombed. They are unjustly labeled “human animals” and “savages,” while facing a massacre after decades of heroic resistance against the occupation.
Many CUNY students, faculty, and staff are standing with Palestine. Some of these students have family members and loved ones in Gaza, including those who have been killed, and many who are being evacuated. Rather than receiving support, these students have been met with policing, repression, and hate from the CUNY administration, as well as local and state politicians — such as the city councilwoman who brought a gun to intimidate protesters at Brooklyn College.
The attacks go beyond CUNY. This past weekend, the NYPD brutally arrested protesters, including a 15 year old, during a march in solidarity with Palestine in Brooklyn organized by Within Our Lifetime and other groups. Universities across the country are attacking pro-Palestinian students and even firing pro-Palestinian staff members. Left groups such as the DSA and public figures who stand with Palestine are being slandered as anti-Semitic for simply expressing their opposition to the Israeli offensive. These attacks on our right to protest are aimed at undermining and intimidating our movement. We cannot allow these attacks to go unchallenged because they not only will weaken this movement but also threaten the strength of all other movements such as Black Lives Matter, the defense of abortion and trans rights, and the fight for better conditions in our schools and workplaces. We have the right to free speech. We have the right to protest for Palestinian liberation. We firmly denounce all attempts to limit our democratic rights.
To end the apartheid regime, it is necessary to dismantle the Zionist state. We defend the right to national self-determination of the Palestinian people and we fight for a workers’ and socialist Palestine with the perspective of a socialist federation in the Middle East.