No. 3

“You Cannot Profit Off Our People’s Blood and Think Students Will Not Come for Your Money”

Five college students from Palestine solidarity groups at George Washington University, Hunter College, the Ohio State University, Rutgers University, and the University of Pennsylvania share organizing strategies.

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Palestine solidarity protesters at the Ohio State University, Oct. 5, 2021. Photograph by Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images.

Palestine solidarity groups have faced extraordinary repression on college campuses in the past few months. The Anti-Defamation League urged college presidents to investigate Students for Justice in Palestine chapters for potentially providing material support for terrorism, the same justification Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida invoked when he banned the groups from public universities. But the organizing strategies and tactics these students are innovating are vital to understanding and expanding this anti-war movement. This conversation took place on Jan. 4, 2024.

Hammer & Hope Student collectives make up a major part of the pro-Palestine movement in the U.S. You have mobilized support all over the country. Can you tell us about your organizations and the work you’re doing?

Students for Justice in Palestine at the Ohio State University There has been a huge transformation here since Oct. 7, which we’ve never seen before. I’ve been in SJP for two years. No one would come to our general meetings — maybe only five people, and they were the board’s friends. It’s kind of embarrassing. But if you look at our Instagram page now, you’ll see 200 to 500 students participating in our events. It’s incredible. These actions range from sit-ins to protests, banquets, teach-ins, and film screenings. For the protests we organize in the city, 1,500 to 3,000 people show up! Most of the new people are not even Palestinian. A lot of them are non-Arab or non-Muslim but learned about the cause on their own and then wanted to participate. I’m sure a lot of SJPs have experienced this. It just keeps growing. We had 2,000 Instagram followers before Oct. 7, and now we’re at around 6,000 followers.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers University–New Brunswick I’m a Palestinian from Gaza. We started with about 2,500 Instagram followers before Oct. 7. Now we’re at more than 6,500, which is insane. People on campus offer us rhetorical support, but we’re on our own when it comes to taking risks and organizing. We’re trying to build relationships with organizations on campus. The Latino and Marxist groups have been supportive, but others try to stay apolitical, and we’re like, Can you not?

We organize alongside the Endowment Justice Collective, which has created a campaign to divest from Israeli apartheid. After Rutgers suspended SJP in December, the collective organized a big “We Are All SJP” protest. It was overwhelming and inspiring; around 500 students showed up. Then SJP did its own campaign where more than 150 organizations wrote on Instagram, “We endorse SJP.” We had a protest at nighttime, and more people showed up than usual. We marched to the building where President Holloway works. That protest helped us pressure the administration. [Note: The university reinstated the Rutgers SJP chapter, although it has been put on probation for one year.]

The Freedom School for Palestine at the University of Pennsylvania We are a collective of Penn students — Palestinians, Arabs, anti-Zionist Jews, and several other groups — whose mission is to sustain a space to have intellectual conversations on Palestine, occupation, and imperialism. We established the sit-in on Nov. 14. For five weeks, we occupied the student union building in the middle of campus. Not only did we act in resistance, but we also held vigils, lectures, film screenings, book discussions, and more focused on the genocide. The Freedom School is one of several cooperatives on campus actively addressing the occupation; a lot of them have been overlapping and intersecting with one another. In these ways, we are structured differently from SJPs and similar groups.

Students for Justice in Palestine at George Washington University We are a collective of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and anti-Zionist students struggling toward the liberation of our homeland and all our people, as well as the dismantlement of Zionism and colonialism all over the world, including here at GWU and in D.C., the belly of the beast. We work to hold our institution accountable to us as students and expose its complicity in Zionism and its ties with militarism and the war machine, which have a very strong presence in D.C. We work hard to build revolutionary structures of community, solidarity, and resistance in place of our imperialist institutions.

Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College We’re one of the City University of New York campuses, and we’re located on the Upper East Side. We are dedicated to the liberation of Palestine through any means necessary. We have a big, diverse group on our campus — not so much Arab Palestinians, but there’s a large Desi Muslim population. Our organizing is centered around the intersections of struggles. We strengthen alliances between Palestinians and minorities in the U.S. We work to ensure that all our students stand for the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.

Most importantly, we’ve battled Zionism not only at our school but also on CUNY campuses citywide. Working alongside organizations like CUNY for Palestine, we started to demand CUNY as a whole divest from Israeli occupation. CUNY invests in students going to Israel, for example, and the CUNY endowment invests in weapons manufacturers, tech and security companies, and construction firms that supply weapons to the Israel Defense Forces. We demand that every single CUNY president and Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez divest.

Hammer & Hope We want to learn how you implement these objectives. You mentioned some of the tactics, protests, and divestment campaigns, but student organizations are also known for using direct action tactics alongside creative forms of protest. Can you share concrete examples of successful tactics that you have implemented on your campuses not only in the current struggle for a permanent cease-fire but also in previous campaigns?

SJP at Rutgers We believe in the importance of education and in uplifting Palestinian voices. We host Palestine Education Workshops, basic one-on-one teachings with other organizations. We try to challenge our misrepresentation in the media, which is dominated by Zionist and Islamophobic propaganda. We held a press conference last semester where we said, This is what’s happening to us despite everything you’re hearing. We held signs that read, “No more money for Israel’s crimes” and “Money for staff and education, not for war and occupation” because we want to show that this is a global, interconnected struggle, and no one is free if others are oppressed.

I’m sick of journalists, so I write my own articles. I make them very personal, so people can understand that we are students, we are human beings. Because the university suspended us during finals, we did not have a regular finals week; Rutgers called us to sham, insincere meetings. They didn’t care what we had to say. The meetings distracted us from studying for our exams, and it was not fair. But when Rutgers suspended us, we did not think for a minute that our organizing would be suspended.

We’re not protesting in solidarity with the Palestinian movement. We’re protesting because we are the movement on campus. We need Rutgers to comply with all our demands, which include denouncing Zionism, cutting ties with the Zionist state, and endorsing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions). This could create a domino effect to compel other universities to end their unethical investments in apartheid and settler colonialism and pressure the international community. That’s how South African apartheid fell. Rutgers divested from South African apartheid — you’re ignoring your legacy, Rutgers, but can you not?

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Palestine solidarity protesters hold a sit-in outside Hunter College, New York City, Nov. 14, 2023. Photograph by Israt, courtesy of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance of Hunter College.

The Penn Freedom School for Palestine In early December, we organized a day of programming called “Killing the Witness: Media Workers in Danger.” It was focused on how the occupation affects media workers and the kinds of information and misinformation circulating around the genocide. We began by watching the news, and then we created banners, posters, and paintings for a vigil at Penn’s media school, the Annenberg School for Communication, to honor the martyred media workers.

More than 100 journalists and media workers have been killed in the genocide in Gaza. We explained how Israel’s killing of these media workers was equal to a killing of the truth, a direct attack on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Penn has intellectual and moral responsibilities on this issue, and the Annenberg School’s silence exemplified Penn’s complicity in the genocide. Not long after, the Annenberg School displayed the names of the martyred media workers on the TV in their main hall. This is a good example of how you can structure actions around highlighting institutional hypocrisy while also keeping your eyes on the genocide.

Our organizing has been grounded in a kind of internal discipline, meaning we keep our organizing decisions to ourselves. It allows for greater security and demands constant internal communication and collaboration. It fosters a decentralized organizing structure where no one person can make a decision or know everything. As a result, bad-faith actors or Zionists have a hard time penetrating the Freedom School. A structure that forces us to build solidarity internally creates a cohesiveness, and future actions end up being more efficiently organized.

PSA of Hunter College We’ve seen the true potential of direct action in Black and Puerto Rican students’ fight for a tuition-free CUNY and against racism on campuses. We’ve seen students shut down Lexington Avenue, do sit-ins, and chain themselves inside schools. After Oct. 7, many of our members started disrupting the administration, which has refused to acknowledge our protests. So we confront them directly. At a few of these events, like board of trustees meetings, PSA members confronted the chancellor of CUNY, and we asked him to invest in life and divest from companies that profit from Israel’s war crimes.

On Nov. 14, the interim president of Hunter College, Ann Kirschner, canceled a film screening of Israelism, which portrayed anti-Zionist Jews. Soon after, we disrupted a senate meeting and condemned the president’s suppression of pro-Palestinian voices on campus and the lack of protection for pro-Palestinian students and staff. One of us said: Here I am, a Palestinian speaking out and telling you that what you’re doing is wrong. And we cannot stand for you, despite you being the president. The disruption was successful compared to protests. Not only did the senate pass a resolution criticizing the decision and demand the school reschedule the film screening, but faculty spoke out at that meeting, too. At that moment, we recognized that direct action would be more effective for our movement. Many of our plans in the spring, hopefully, will include more disruptions and sit-ins, while we will also make sure students get involved both inside campus and outside campus.

Hammer & Hope How do you think about whom to target? You’ve talked about targeting your administrations, and I imagine pro-Israel students are also organizing on some of your campuses. These are all people you could respond to. So how do you choose where to focus?

SJP at Ohio State For the teach-ins, we target people who are on the fence but want to learn. We do have a Zionist organization on campus, and a lot of their members come to our teach-ins and movies and other educational meetings. It’s kind of weird, because we can’t kick them out, but they start asking questions that are very pro-Zionist to throw us off and make us answer things that we shouldn’t have to.

Our administration is huge. We’ve had several sit-down meetings with the administration where we go in prepared with a list of four demands that we keep repeating, including divesting and acknowledging that Palestinians have died. They’ve released statements acknowledging the deaths in Israel, but there’s been no meaningful mention of what’s been happening in Gaza.

SJP at GWU We started by targeting people in the administration who had material, financial, or media ties to the occupation or had some sort of responsibility over our institution, mainly the board of trustees.

Whom we decide to target for direct actions is also based on who targets us: our university president, the administration, the Student Rights and Responsibilities office. At GWU, we have faced a lot of repression from Zionist students but also from the administration. Like Rutgers, our SJP was also suspended recently. And our university president has put out multiple statements condemning SJP actions. In mid-October, she wrote that she abhors “the celebration of terrorism,” which was widely interpreted as a criticism of SJP’s recent vigil. The police forcibly shut down one of our protests at the behest of our dean of students.

These administrators have no shame about publicly demonstrating that they do not stand with us as we undergo a genocide; they have no shame about being willing to repress us not only through institutional and accountability means but even through the campus police force. Our student association passed a resolution calling on the school to divest from Israeli apartheid, but the administration refused without admitting it has ever invested in complicit companies.

We have held mass rallies and had a projection action on our school’s library that went viral. Senator Mitch McConnell even talked about it on the Senate floor. We’ve held sit-ins, walkouts, and other direct-action tactics, including email campaigns. We’ve focused on a media strategy because so many media outlets have closed themselves off to us. Our campus newspaper has made it clear that it’s not really interested in platforming our voices or publishing pieces from us. Our Instagram page has been disabled multiple times since the beginning of December.

We’ve had to circumvent these media institutions to get our message out. We’ve published two opinion essays in Mondoweiss. We’ve begun to do our own journalism; we got ahold of a recording where our university president appears to pretty much admit that she wishes that she could punish students for certain types of pro-Palestine speech. We compiled and circulated that information using our own systems and partners on campus. Unfortunately, our administration has not acquiesced to any of our demands yet, but I wouldn’t say that means our tactics have been unsuccessful.

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Palestine solidarity protesters hold a sit-in at George Washington University, Washington, D.C., Nov. 9, 2023. Photograph by Taytum Wymer, courtesy of GWU Students for Justice in Palestine.

The Penn Freedom School for Palestine Over the last semester, we’ve regularly reassessed whom Freedom School operations should target. The focus has been to hold teachings for students and the wider Penn community alongside on-campus organizing efforts. We did not seek to insult anyone but rather to confront them with ideas that are often uncomfortable. Naming the distinction between being uncomfortable and being unsafe is an important part of conducting the Freedom School, especially since the discomfort can build knowledge among students.

Since there’s always a question of capacity when it comes to organizing, we try to direct our work toward those who have the power to pull levers of change, particularly the administration. During our sit-in, we established three core demands: First, that Penn call for a permanent cease-fire, not only declaratively but also on moral terms. Second, we demanded that Penn protect freedom of speech, condemning the doxxing and harassment that students, faculty, and staff have faced alongside providing institutional support for those affected. Third, we demanded that Penn institutionalize critical thought on Palestine, like administering the educational programming that we offered, creating a center for Palestine studies, and providing more classes on Palestine. The power relations that flow through Penn tell us that changes like these can spur truly meaningful change.

Hammer & Hope Let’s discuss the influence of donors. Penn’s president got ousted. Where do more distant figures who have influence on campus politics, like donors and trustees, fit into your organizing? Are they too remote, so you focus on students who are on the fence while other allied organizations think about donors? We want to get your perspectives on how other parts of campus politics fit into your work.

SJP at GWU This goes back to the projection action on the school’s main library, which our school’s police force shut down. In the aftermath, there were huge calls for donors to pull their funding, including from multiple congresspeople who were alumni. More than 1,000 Zionist alumni threatened to pull their donations. Those calls strongly influenced the school to suspend us.

These institutions like to opine about free speech and academic freedom, but these situations expose how higher education is beholden to money and capital. We want them to stop funding our people’s genocide, to stop giving money to the military and to defense contractors whose weapons Israel uses to kill our people. They’re not going to stop oppressing us, they’re not going to listen to us. The language that our administration listens to is the language of capital, so our tactics must focus on cutting off the flow of capital to those actors.

We’ve done campaigns to counter some of these Zionist donors, including actions at donor events. We will target any connection that GWU has to Zionism through capital. You cannot continue to profit off our people’s blood and think that we will not come for your money.

Hammer & Hope Does someone from a public university want to respond?

SJP at Rutgers Our endowment should not invest in businesses that manufacture weapons for this genocide. It’s our tuition money, our endowment; we should have a say in how it’s used. For Palestinian American students, this is incredibly personal. We don’t feel represented. We’ve been vocal about divestment. We’ll say, As tuition-paying students and future alumni donors, we have a say in where our money goes. Rutgers divested from South African apartheid. You’re ignoring your legacy, Rutgers, but can you not?

We occupied the board of governors’ meeting. We silently held signs that read “Divest now.” We asked a question, and they completely ignored us. President Holloway barely even looked at us. That’s something unique about our university. They just went about their meeting as if nothing happened.

It’s insane the way we got suspended — we learned when a journalist called us, which suggests someone might have leaked the suspension and a student’s email to the press, exposing them to doxxing.

PSA of Hunter College Hunter is a public school. One thing that stood out was when GWU said that the only language the administration speaks is capital. That is 100 percent true in New York — not only in reference to the board of trustees but also city council members, the governor, and the chancellor because CUNY has such a big administration. A Brooklyn councilwoman said she would pull funding earmarked for CUNY Law School because its faculty had endorsed a BDS resolution. That stuck out. Knowing that a councilwoman pulled money, CUNY was like, We’re not divesting in any way.

After Oct. 7, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York would invest more than $75 million in police, including heightened surveillance on our campuses. This is not new; we saw it after 9/11, when the police spied on Muslim groups. This increased threat is harmful and a threat to all minorities on our campuses.

We have two strategies here. PSA and allied alumni organized a campaign making sure students know where their tuition is going, who’s investing in the school, and what they’re investing in. That’s extremely important. Many students are unaware of where their tuition money goes. We’ve petitioned alumni, asking them to withhold donations. An alum posted a note on her LinkedIn tagging the president and including a link to a letter from a group of alumni who threatened to withhold any donations if their demands aren’t met.

Another strategy is disrupting capital, which requires organizing around the city and not just on campus. For example, we’ve been working with organizations like Within Our Lifetime Palestine to shut down highways. We work with caravans to make sure that JFK and LaGuardia Airports are jammed up. In order to disrupt the flow of capital, we have to disrupt the city as a whole. And that requires working with organizations that have external connections.

The Penn Freedom School for Palestine Penn is not a public university, but I would like to echo the importance of disrupting capital flows. At the Freedom School, we’ve been proud to see the almost infectious commitment to boycotting different businesses. We’re constantly finding more companies in the area that are complicit in Israeli occupation. And when we circulate this information, people quickly stop purchasing from them. On this front, we’re seeing beautiful community solidarity.

We also saw major disparities when any pro-Palestine students wanted to meet with the administration, especially since Zionist students got meetings almost without asking. When it comes to trustees and alumni at Penn, we’ve unfortunately witnessed the disproportionate influence that they can have over major decisions. In part, this has inspired us to challenge and shame alumni and trustees for their complicity. On another front, it has given us ways to highlight where Penn is failing in its obligations to students by prioritizing the interests of small groups like the board of trustees.

We now have new pro-Palestinian faculty coalitions and alumni networks, which are so important because there is notable Zionist influence among the board of trustees and donors. We must stay in communication with supportive alumni and donors, because there’s a surprising number of them. It is breathtaking how many of them provide support and engagement.

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Palestine solidarity protesters at Rutgers University–New Brunswick on Dec. 14, 2023. Photograph by Salma HQ, courtesy of Students for Justice in Palestine Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

Hammer & Hope How do your organizations relate to other collectives both in universities and outside? We want to try to understand how to move from isolated or autonomous collectives to a sort of nationwide movement.

SJP at Rutgers At our Palestine Education Workshops, we focus on various struggles to show that from Palestine to Algeria, colonization is a crime. We make parallels from apartheid in South Africa to Kashmir and the U.S. war machine in the Philippines. We talk about the student movement opposing the Vietnam War. We also try to highlight the Russia-Ukraine double standard and talk about solidarity between African Americans and Palestinians, which I saw up close during the BLM protests during Covid.

Growing up, I went to Palestinian protests. Very often, the protesters were from my community and the protests were small. But I noticed a dramatic shift at protests in 2020; I started hearing people in the crowd saying, “Intifada,” and I was like, There’s no way you know what this means. I can’t believe it. The diversity in the crowds today shows that when we say, “Free Palestine,” we’re talking about every human rights issue. We are constantly repeating the axiom that no one is free if others are oppressed. Palestine is a graveyard for human suffering.

SJP at Ohio State The Council on American-Islamic Relations has been a large help. There are a lot of Party for Socialism and Liberation chapters in different states that we’ve collaborated with for protests or demonstrations. We have a lot of communist and socialist organizations who are really for Palestine, like Rising Tide here in Columbus, and they also help our cause. We’ve reached out to Black organizations on campus, but only a few have collaborated with us. It’s kind of hard. When we do our teach-ins, we try to collaborate with a different minority club each time — one week with Native Americans, another week with a Black psychology organization. We also had a teach-in with a Latinx student organization. We’re trying to bring more minorities to our cause because it’s not only a Palestinian issue. All minorities are being oppressed, and we should all support one another.

Hammer & Hope How far do you go with those coalitions? Do these alliances only organize specific events together? Or do you collaborate on strategies?

SJP at GWU We saw this in the wake of SJP’s suspension. We already had a lot of solidarity partners on campus that we’ve been working with for a while: our Jewish Voice for Peace chapter, a Black feminist organization called Black Defiance, and Students Against Imperialism, among many others. After SJP got suspended, they decided to formally create a coalition, thus allowing the Palestine student movement to continue in SJP’s absence and amid attempted repression. This allowed the solidarity organizations to collaborate more closely on strategy and on a vision for the future of this movement.

Just as SJP had done, the coalition is now conducting teach-ins and rallies, and exposing the contradictions between the interests of students and the administration, which has politicized students and staff in a way that we have not seen in recent years. And that, to me, is a huge success. We’re seeing this huge wave of revolutionary consciousness happening among students who are recognizing our work to connect imperialism and capitalism with the genocide in Gaza and the repression on campus. Students now understand that the path forward is through community building and power building, not the liberal reforms that our administrations offer to keep us on the defensive.

Some people have talked about decentralization, and there are benefits. It’s very efficient, and it keeps the mass accountability required for grassroots organizing. But it can also be a hindrance, which we have found in separate coalitions in the past. By building structure, coalitions can maintain a unified strategy across all the organizations. But the work can be disjointed. People take up projects on their own, which is good, but can end up wasting energy if it’s not moving toward a unified strategy.

We are forming a regional coalition of the SJPs around the D.C. area and work closely with the chapters at Georgetown University, American University, the University of Maryland, and George Mason University. We share a unique political context in D.C. We’re surrounded by buildings where people who make decisions over the genocide are convening as we speak. Our work can’t be contained to our campuses. Part of that has meant working with local organizations as well, like the Palestinian Youth Movement chapter in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area and Students for Socialism, an offshoot of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. We also work with the D.C. chapter of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

It’s important we understand our unique role as students within the movement. It’s easy to get lost in the university context and not position ourselves within the larger movement. But these coalitions allow us to better understand our role and movement history as well, seeing the significance of the student movements opposing the Vietnam War and South African apartheid, and the Organization of Arab Students and General Union of Palestinian Students that preceded SJP. We have a central role in the movement, which we can see by the repression we face. They wouldn’t try this hard to go after us if we weren’t a threat to their interests and to Zionism.

This is not widely known, but in the spring of 2023, National SJP voted to create a centralized structure, which has allowed us to begin coordinating more not only across campus and our regional context but all over the country. That has allowed us to maintain a unified strategy, as opposed to disjointed actions.

PSA of Hunter College Our organizations have been working in a coalition within the school because a collective student voice is more powerful than one student voice. In terms of punishment, the administration can’t single out one voice if there’s a collective voice. We’ve connected struggles with Pakistani and Bangladeshi student organizations. We discuss, for example, how the Bangladesh genocide unfolded in 1971 or how Algeria received liberation through resistance. Students learn about the Palestinian struggle through their own struggles, through their own ethnicities, through their own people.

PSA works with external organizations like Within Our Lifetime Palestine, Palestine Legal, and CAIR-New York, who provide us with a larger voice, assistance, and resources in terms of advice or funding. A student got arrested, and who do you contact when that happens? Of course you contact Palestine Legal. We got our student out of jail because of these connections with external organizations. And when groups get banned, the coalitions with student organizations are very important. That collective voice is a lot more powerful and valuable to the administration.

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Palestine solidarity protesters at Hunter College, New York City, Oct. 12, 2023. Photograph by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images.

The Penn Freedom School for Palestine When it comes to collective work, the Freedom School’s alternative structure deserves to be highlighted, especially given Penn’s long history of antagonism, censorship, and institutional intimidation against Palestinian activism and movements of people of color and the working class. The Freedom School grows out of this history; it was built not through the spontaneous creation of a coalition but rather through putting together longstanding coalitions and organizing efforts. The Freedom School is a patchwork of people from these different corners of campus who have come together, recognizing where our struggles overlap and why our collective liberation requires solidarity.

One of our most prominent strengths as a coalition is that we aren’t an organization in the same way SJP is. Being registered with the university as a club or an event places a group under limitations that we aren’t subject to; the university could force a club into disciplinary proceedings, preventing it from holding events until the investigation is over, for example. The decentralization and flat hierarchy embedded into the Freedom School is generative, too, because the result is an effective network of nuclei. Each nucleus is a Freedom School member or members who have their own knowledge and control over things, and since no one person has all-encompassing knowledge or control, we need to depend on each other.

Hammer & Hope Do you have relationships with organizations in Palestine? Is there any sort of cooperation? Do you organize your activities and strategies based on what organizations or coalitions are doing in Palestine?

SJP at GWU We don’t have formal relations with any political organization in Palestine. But we respond to calls we hear from our people on the ground. When Palestinian workers say, We need everyone to go on a global strike next Monday. Don’t show up to your jobs, disrupt regular business because we are suffering here on the ground, we comply. When our people say, Confront material ties between your institutions and Zionism and the weapons that are killing us, we hear that and we say, OK. That is our duty in the diaspora. That is our duty to our people. Simply being Palestinians puts us in direct relationship with our people all over the world, in the diaspora, in the refugee camps, in our homeland. When Palestinian farmers and peasants call for action, when our people in Gaza call for action, it is our duty to respond and to unite with our people and the movement.

The Penn Freedom School for Palestine We have ties that are symbolic, human, and moral, but we lack institutional ties to Palestinian political or educational organizations. Our administration has not made efforts to create those ties. Part of instituting critical thought on Palestine could be creating student exchanges and partnerships with Palestinian universities. We also pay close attention to what people in Gaza ask for. That’s another reason why, when we get distracted by certain types of discourse or media campaigns, we need to reorient ourselves to what the core of our work is: Palestine.

PSA of Hunter College There’s no formal connection between Hunter and organizations in Palestine, but our ears are always open to what Palestinians are demanding back home. Their demands are more important than any of ours here. We are their voice in the West. We live in a nation that takes our tax money to fund genocide. Our money funds the killing of our people back home. When we hear from those in Palestine, we should take every chance that we get to amplify them, because those voices are the ones that need to be heard.

Hammer & Hope Beyond campus politics, what are the main lessons you’ve learned in the struggle for a permanent cease-fire in Palestine?

SJP at GWU The lessons we’ve learned have to do with the repression, which has been very scary — from our institution banning SJP and students being placed on disciplinary probation to police intimidation and the police shutting down our actions, but also through doxxing. The doxxing truck has come to our campus; those Twitter accounts have posted about us and doxxed students. We’ve learned how to respond to it, and we’ve started to understand the motives behind it and how we can organize against it. At GWU, this repression only increases when our movement becomes more and more powerful. The repression is a sign of desperation and weakness, a sign that our movement is getting stronger and that we threaten the status quo.

The conditions of the Palestinian struggle for liberation and the genocide expose these things to the general population and to the masses of students at our school and around this country. The repression is waking people up to the fact that our interests are directly opposed to the interests of the ruling class. As they continue to demonstrate the lengths they will go to to protect their capital, our organizing exposes and sharpens these contradictions.

In Blood in My Eye, George L. Jackson refers to his brother Jonathan’s writing about how repression shows us two things. The first is that the systems we have will not meet our demands to stop killing our people because that would go against their material interests in supporting imperialism and genocidal war. The second thing that repression shows us is “how foul a piece of the pie would be even if we could have some.” Even if our institutions make tweaks here and there, those wouldn’t fundamentally change their character. Even as people within the administration come and go, their interests remain the same.

We can use this repression to our advantage; repression is not merely a weakness for our movement, it’s a strength. We can use it to build revolutionary consciousness among students who now realize that the solution is not in begging our oppressors to stop oppressing us. The solution is in building power in our communities to challenge the power of our universities and protect ourselves when the university won’t. While the repression is scary, it is a tool that we will use to our advantage to grow the student movement and one day, inshallah, free our people.

SJP at Rutgers A lesson learned is the constant need to organize in the Western world. We have momentum now. But after a permanent cease-fire, that doesn’t mean we will return to the status quo and stop organizing. This moment has taught us who our allies are, who our friends are, and that we will never forgive or negotiate peace with our colonizer. We will not rest until liberation from the river to the sea. We see the dangers of the normalization of Zionism; we must stay steadfast with actual pro-Palestinian allies. Despite all the killing and the hate, I have never felt stronger and more determined that we will see a free Palestine within our lifetime.

PSA of Hunter College The main lesson learned in the current struggle for a permanent cease-fire is that liberation must be achieved. It’s our responsibility as students to stand for the liberation of Palestine. And just because you’re over 1,000 miles away from Palestine does not make you any less complicit — it actually makes you more complicit, it makes you more responsible, it makes your voice even more necessary. It’s time that we U.S. students take that responsibility, and we use it to resist in America, and we globalize that resistance. It’s time to call out normalization, it’s time to call out liberal Zionism. And it’s time for students to stand up for the truth and to take the right side of history. And most importantly, until Palestine is free, we will not rest. And our efforts will not stop until Palestine is free. We will resist for generations to come. As U.S. students, we have to take that responsibility.

The Penn Freedom School for Palestine An important lesson we learned is that Palestinian liberation challenges the political imagination of the American left. Forces like unjust hierarchies, remnants of imperialism, or general aversion to change can undermine organizing efforts, but they can also force organizers to sit down and have difficult, vulnerable conversations. They need to pinpoint what the problems are, where they are coming from, and figure out how to avoid them in the future. These conversations can be incredibly generative, pushing organizers to develop a better eye for when racialized hierarchies build up, when organizing goes wrong, and how to better care for one another.

We also learned that the conversation on freedom of speech has become a distraction from the genocide, whether it’s the debate around phrases like “from the river to the sea” or wider campus politics. Therefore, we need to remain steadfast in our focus on the genocide and occupation.

Lastly, other coalitions should form sit-ins because there is strength in their ungovernability. The fact that a sit-in can be established independent of the university is powerful. It allows for creative forms of action while building solidarity in ways that outlive the demonstration.

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