Zionism and Capitalism: Hands Off Our Universities!

Over the last two weeks, there have been hundreds of actions at campuses across the country in support of Palestine. From CUNY to Harvard to Stanford, students and faculty have joined rallies and signed statements condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and calling for an end to all US aid to Israel.

Powerful capitalists with investments in higher education have quickly pressured university administrations to impose harsh disciplinary measures on pro-Palestinian campus activists. The reaction of the ruling class has exposed how higher-learning institutions are not guided by any commitment to an abstract notion of “freedom of speech and debate,” but instead, are commanded by the needs and whims of capital. As with everything else under capitalism, these “donations” come with definite strings attached.

The reaction of the ruling class to Palestine-solidarity demonstrations is not guided by any commitment to an abstract notion of “freedom of speech and debate.” / Image: Socialist Revolution

Powerful backers

At Harvard, over 30 student organizations signed a letter affirming their support for the Palestinian people and condemning Israel’s occupation. They called on the administration to “take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.”

As soon as this resolution was published, well-heeled donors started threatening to stop funding the university. Former Victoria’s Secret CEO, Les Wexner, announced that he was pulling his financial support. Billionaire Idan Ofer and his wife both quit an executive board in protest. Idan Ofer happens to be the second-richest person in Israel, just behind his brother, Eyal Ofer. Others, like hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman, have demanded that the students who signed the letter be publicly identified and put on an employer blacklist.

At the University of Pennsylvania, students and faculty held the annual Palestine Writes Literature festival starting in September, well before the recent escalation of violence. With universities used to calling anything pro-Palestine “antisemitic,” UPenn released a statement “condemning antisemitism”—but this was apparently not enough the university’s capitalist backers. Several investors, including billionaire and private-equity CEO Marc Rowan, threatened to cut off financial backing if the university didn’t take a harsher approach. The university quickly redrafted their routine statement and admitted that it had not been harsh enough with its earlier declaration.

But the ruling class will not be satisfied with mere statements from university administrators. They are out for revenge. They want anyone opposed to the oppression and massacre of Palestinians to be ostracized and barred from employment for life.

Out for blood

At NYU, a member of the student bar association sent a newsletter to classmates placing the blame for the conflict on the decades of Israeli occupation and oppression. Just a few hours later, he had a job offer rescinded as the post faced Zionist backlash. The student was doxxed and her info was published in online forums, where she has been receiving menacing threats.

Meanwhile, Bill Ackman’s McCarthyite call to ostracize the Harvard letter signatories mysteriously came true when a “doxxing truck” appeared around the campus, with posters of students’ faces and personal information, emblazoned with the words: “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.”

A “doxxing truck” appeared around the Harvard campus, with posters of students’ faces and personal information. / Image: ailemnerede, instagram

The same group behind this attack, a conservative think tank misnamed Accuracy in Media, parked another doxxing truck outside of Columbia University on October 25, after students there signed a similar statement in support of Palestine—the same day as a city-wide pro-Palestine student walkout. The administration did practically nothing in response, simply stating that they condemn both “disturbing antisemitic and Islamophobic acts.” But dozens of students gathered around the truck with signs, posters, and banners to cover the students’ personal information.

There have been hundreds of other cases of doxxing of pro-Palestine students. Faculty members at several universities, like Stanford, Cornell, and Emory, have been disciplined by the administration for making pro-Palestine statements. The disciplinary measures vary from forced abstention from teaching duties to outright firing.

In New York, Republican Councilwoman Inna Vernikov demanded that Brooklyn College, which is part of the CUNY public system, ban a Students for Justice in Palestine demonstration on campus. The college concurred, and when the rally was moved off campus, Vernikov stood in the sidelines illegally displaying her handgun openly in public. So, not only can there not be pro-Palestinian gatherings on campus, but if they go off-campus, they will be threatened by armed elected officials!

And as yet another example, Socialist Revolution recently organized a public event near NYU and The New School titled “Defend Gaza! Intifada Until Victory!” However, the original venue canceled our reservation less than 24 hours before the event due to having received dozens of anonymous threat calls. The Zionists intended to force us to cancel our event, but our comrades were undeterred. Despite the last minute change, some 70 people turned up at the new location!.

Whatever happened to “free speech”?

Inna Vernkov—pictured here with Donald Trump—illegally brandished a handgun in an attempt to intimidate protesters. / Image: Inna Vernikov, X (formerly Twitter)

But wait! Aren’t universities supposed to be havens of “free speech” and “debate,” where ideas roam free like unicorns frolicking in a blooming meadow?

The bourgeoisie would very much like us to think that this mythical creature called “free speech” lives happily in its natural habitat of college campuses. But the right to “freedom of speech” they preach as the number one virtue of “democracy” extends only insofar as it doesn’t offend their interests. Anyone who does not comply is treated like a heretic to be burned at the stake.

The American ruling class is not satisfied with mere statements condemning Hamas; they want a thorough witch hunt of anyone who supports Palestine. They want to ruin students’ career prospects by blacklisting them and tarring them as antisemites for life. Of course, their hypocritical cries about antisemitism are just a political weapon wielded against the working class.

These incidents are, therefore, very revealing about the nature of the US education system. A handful of billionaires, hedge funds, and private equity firms have more control over what can be said and taught than the entire faculty and student body. This highlights the need to kick capitalism out of our schools.

The Zionists have the full backing of the capitalists and the media, and they use their vast wealth and connections to ensure their interests are protected. The only reason the administrations of these universities appear spineless in the face of this bullying is because they are bought and paid for by the same Zionist-supporting parasites that charge students hundreds of thousands of dollars to get an education.

Mobilize the forces of labor and youth!

Students and workers across the country are drawing increasingly radical conclusions. Even in the belly of the beast of world imperialism, public opinion has swayed significantly to the side of Palestine in recent years—particularly among young people. Rallies and demonstrations in support of Palestine are bringing people out by the tens of thousands. Colleges and high schools are brewing with activity in a way not seen since the Vietnam War.

The ruling class’s intimidation, censorship, and slander are no match for the power of the organized working class. / Image: Socialist Revolution

On the same day, CUNY faculty and staff signed a letter condemning the administration of Chancellor Matos Rodriguez and its attempts to censor campus actions in solidarity with Palestine. The letter is generally a step forward, but it is not enough to merely sign petitions. We need to take this to our trade unions and student bodies. At union meetings, faculty members and students should not only be putting forward resolutions to stand with Palestine—like Starbucks Workers United did—but also be ready to mobilize the entire campus in solidarity with any worker or student who faces disciplinary action, threats, or doxxing for opposing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

A class-struggle approach is desperately needed. The ruling class’s intimidation, censorship, and slander are no match for the power of the organized working class. Students and faculty can unite and fight to defend Palestine, kick capitalism out of the universities, and for free nationwide higher education. A mass movement of the youth could help galvanize the union rank and file into action. A strike of workers in the arms manufacturing and shipping sectors could halt the weapons supplies that prop up the Israeli military. This is the type of action that can stop US imperialism and force the capitalists to back down.

Let’s organize for a communist class war in every university and every workplace to defend Gaza and oppose US imperialism! An injury to one is an injury to all! Intifada until victory!

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