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Stodden/ Cholensky 2024 Statement on Student Protests

Around the country, multiple campuses are experiencing a new wave of student protests against the active role being played by the US in the War against Gaza.  Not only do students conscientiously protest the ongoing genocide, human rights violations, and illegal territorial dispossession being conducted by the State of Israel against the people of Gaza, but they also engage in civil disobedience to protest the immoral use of money, materiel and diplomacy by the United States to support of Israel.  Protests in support of the People of Palestine are being routinely represented in the mainstream media as “antisemitic”, who are being “manipulated” by “professional agitators.”.  These terms are employed to invalidate any legitimate issue that students are protesting, to personally demonize the protestors in the minds of Americans and to run cover for US support for the murder of more than 35,000 people in Gaza since October 7th by the State of Israel, in one of the largest campaigns of state-sponsored terror witnessed in the 21st century.  In response to this demonization and invalidation, our local and state governments deem it reasonable to respond to civil disobedience and calls for divestment and sanctions with violence, conducted by armed and armored riot police, deploying military grade equipment, and followed by mass arrest and detention.

We, as a campaign, stand firmly on the side of these student organized and led protests.  We have seen this script before:  In the early 2000s, when socialists and workers joined students and peaceful protestors in the US to protest the US’ invasion of Iraq and occupation of Afghanistan, we were met by many of the same responses from the media, reactionaries in US society, and the police force.  When millions, from all walks of life, all races, and all classes turned out in the 2010s for protests against police brutality against black Americans in the streets of our cities, we were met with the same responses from the media, reactionaries in US society, and the police force.  Now this is just another episode of people standing up for a righteous cause, in this case standing for solidarity with the people of Gaza, and opposing US and College investment in institutions that fund genocide, and being demonized, invalidated, and brutalized for it.  But as the previous episodes of this same program demonstrated, these student protestors today are just in their actions.  History will vindicate them in the minds of the rest of America.

We call on Students to continue to protest, and we call for those protests to spread across the country.  The protests should continue to focus not only on the ongoing genocide in Palestine, and calls for US institutions to stop directly or indirectly funding the Government that is committing the atrocities in Gaza, but they should expand their calls to include a critique of the systems of imperialism that make war both permissible and necessary for the survival of capitalism.  At its root, all modern war is not only based in feelings of race and nationality, but also rooted in the economic imperatives of capital:  War uses weaponry produced in capitalist factories owned by capitalist profiteers but staffed by members of the working class, to arm members of the working class to kill other members of the working class.  It does not discriminate between militant and civilian, and in this war in particular, evidence points to the deliberate and planned targeting of civilians by Israel, as a matter of policy.  Protesting that, even if it means wide scale disruption of civil order in the US, occupation of college campuses, and strife between peaceful protestors and the State, is ethical.  And we stand with this movement.

We call on all Americans to endorse and support these protests as far as you can.  If you are able, do one or more of the following things: 

  • Join the students in their encampments and swell their ranks; 

  • Start protests in your own area to increase their numbers; 

  • Contribute to defense funds, or food funds, or strike funds; 

  • Organize boycotts not only of products that are tied to the State of Israel (there are excellent online resources produced by the BDS movement) but also boycott American companies that continue to do business with that Government, as well as media outlets who insist on tarring this movement as “antisemitic,” call peaceful protestors “terrorists” and “professional agitators”, or seek to invalidate the demands of the protests; 

  • Write letters to your newspaper in support of the protests; 

  • Bring the matter before your City Governments, your Unions and your Student Associations, and ask them to pass resolutions and conduct actions in support of the Protests;

  • Organize sympathy walk outs, strikes, or other direct action in support of the protests.

This movement will only succeed if the heretofore localized protests become a more general protest, not only against the way these protests are being responded to by the institutions of capitalism (including the State and the media), but also in how these institutions drag us all into immoral acts both at home and abroad.  We as a campaign believe that the time is yesterday for the people of this country to stand up, and in one voice, say “Enough!”  We have had enough of being ignored and demonized when we demonstrate for justice.  We have been beaten too many times, we are tired of having peaceful protests broken up by billy clubs, riot gear and tear gas employed by those who bring violence into our movements for peace.  The time for talk is over.  It is time for action, and we as a campaign call on all who are able to be as active as they can afford to be, in this movement, and in support of these protests, and in a broader, more generalized, anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist movement.  We are the only ones who can liberate ourselves, and it will take work, effort, and struggle.  But this is a new opportunity, and we as a society ought not squander it.


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