The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

University Protests Shine Light on Gaza

Apr 28, 2024

About a thousand people have been arrested since April 18 on university campuses. Their “crime"? They were protesting Israel’s slaughter of the population of Gaza.

Of course, college administrators and politicians pretend otherwise. They say that protests interfere with university life. In fact, where classes were preemptively canceled or dorms closed, university administrators did it—not students.

Cops pretend that protesters “disturb the peace” or “interfere with arrests"—those catchall charges cops use AFTER they stop someone.

But by all accounts from legal observers, there was no “disturbance"—until the cops moved in, “interfering” with the demonstrations.

Parts of the media and many politicians pretend that the demonstrators were crying anti-Semitic slogans, calling for “death to the Jews!”

Obviously, any time people mass together, you can find someone who says something. But that doesn’t mean the people who organized protests were calling to eliminate the Jewish people.

At some schools, demonstrators did denounce Zionism—and this denunciation often came from organizations of Jewish students.

Why? Because Zionism worked to establish a Jewish state in what had been occupied by Palestinian people—a religious state, in which rights henceforth were reserved only to Jewish people. Such a requirement could only mean violence for all the people in the region. And that is exactly what was produced in the area that was turned into Israel.

The demonstrations opposed the murderous policies of the Israeli government in Gaza. That does not mean the protest was anti-Semitic.

Some of the demonstrators ignored Hamas’s policies, and that is stupid. Because Hamas attacks civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian.

But if there is anything “criminal” in these protests on college campuses, it is the timidity of the demands they set forth.

They call for divestiture, that is, they want their own university to cancel all investments in companies that invest in Israel. Some call for their universities to stop investing university funds in the companies that produce armaments and weapons.

Some even call for the U.S. to stop support for Israel. And it’s true—if the U.S. were to stop all shipments of arms, money and intelligence aid, Israel’s war on Gaza would rapidly collapse.

But what’s behind U.S. support? Israel has acted like a “cop” for U.S. imperialism, helping it to maintain control over the oil-rich Middle East.

But, of course, the politicians and weapons companies, as well as university administrators, don’t fault the students because they don’t see this part of reality. The students are attacked because they shine a light on what is happening in Gaza. Almost 35,000 people have been killed, mostly women and children; 77,000 people have been wounded; hospitals, torn down; water and sewer systems, cut off; and 2/3 of Palestinians, turned into refugees in their own country.

The media finally push the idea that these universities are the “elite” universities. It’s the last piece of propaganda, aimed at setting working people against this movement of the students.

Yes, these are elite universities—the ones that cost impossible amounts of money, the ones reserved, with a few exceptions, to the children of the wealthy classes. Many of the students protesting are the ones being prepared to run this society tomorrow. Their protest, in fact, looks to the powers that be like a “betrayal.”

Working people should be pleased that some students use their position to point out the evils of this society, instead of resting on their privileges.

No, students don’t have the power to change society. But the working class does. Its position, producing the goods and services needed, allows it to interfere not only with university life, but with the very running of the economy. In so doing, the working class will find the way to get rid of capitalism and, along with it, the ills that capitalism causes, including its wars.