Columbia Gaza protest

Demonstrators rally at a “All Out for Gaza” protest at Columbia University in New York City on November 15, 2023.

(Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images)

Let’s Organize for an Anti-US War Machine Summer

Students back home should continue to expand the movement against the genocide in Gaza by connecting and uniting with their own communities.

The movement against the continued Palestinian genocide in Gaza has sparked protests and encampments in colleges across the country and beyond. Local governments, such as the New York City government, collude with universities like Columbia, NYU, and CUNY to criminalize students for speaking out against the U.S. war machine by brutalizing peaceful protests. But this crackdown has only drawn more sympathy from people across the city and nation.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Eric Adams, who takes cues from billionaires and big real estate, tries to divide students from the rest of the community, portraying students as “antisemetic” and supporters as “outside agitators.”

As students and young workers, his words have prompted important questions for us, especially as the semester has ended and student presence on campus diminishes: Are we going to continue seeing our schools as the main focus and escalate on campus? Or should we escalate by spreading our movement outside the campus and organizing with the broader majority?

We are not in school, but we have a world to win!

The student movement has awakened the consciousness of students, young people, and community members across the nation; it is a strong step in the fight against U.S. Imperialism. The U.S. government can only justify genocide by putting a Jewish face on it, and frames any opposition as anti-Jewish hate. Mainstream media happily portrays students as the hateful minority detached from society. We must not allow the student movement to become isolated.

We are at a disadvantage in terms of time and space: Many students have already left school for summer break; suddenly being back in our home towns, many of which lack anti-war protests or political movements and are fed with misinformation that equates the student movement with antisemitism, can feel isolating and disconcerting. But this disadvantage can be turned into an advantage: This summer is the time for us to spread and grow our movement in our communities.

As students and young workers, what is our relationship with the broader communities, the 99%? Growing up, we were told that we would become privileged by obtaining higher education, and that we would climb up the social ladder with a college degree and a good job and maybe occasionally we can give back to our communities. In reality, most of us would end up being exploited and miserable, facing exorbitant amounts of debt and working longer hours with less income than previous generations. And our labor–whether we work for a film production company, a tech company, a science lab, or any other field–is used to maintain and fuel the U.S. Imperialism that plunders the world! Our creativity goes to promote invasions, our management skill goes to finance for genocide, our passion for engineering and technology goes to research or development for the military industrial complex, and our tax dollars go directly to feed the war machine.

Our suffering is not separated from the vast majority in the U.S. We are part of this majority that is forced to toil under worsening conditions to sustain a violent system that benefits the top 1% and brings displacement, destruction, and death to the rest, both domestically and abroad, from New York City to Gaza, from Cop City in Atlanta to settlements in the West Bank. We need to unite with our communities as our interests are intertwined.

Do we wait until we return to New York to continue organizing and fighting for the liberation of Palestine and all of us toiling for the monstrous war machine? No! Students back home should continue to expand this movement by connecting and uniting with their own communities. We should start conversations with local institutions such as churches, temples, unions, local governments, and associations; clear up this “antisemitic” farce; and push them to take a stand against the genocide and occupation. In order to grow this movement and win, we must bring our communities to our side; we will be stronger and more energized when we return to our schools.

We are not in school, but we have a world to win! It’s time to spread the fire everywhere and join forces with our communities that have no love for the war abroad or exploitation within the country. Let’s rebel and destroy the U.S. war machine from within!

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