Not a cent, not a bullet for the Israeli war machine: statement on wave of Gaza solidarity student protests

Across the United States over 60 universities and colleges have seen students and faculty organising encampments in a growing movement against the massacre in Gaza. A whole generation is being politicised and drawing conclusions about the nature of imperialism, the role of the police and the state and the need for collective action.

On 17 April, students and faculty members at Columbia University in New York City led the way with their campus encampment in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been subject to the most brutal genocidal onslaught by the Israeli Zionist regime. The spark that spread the movement across the United States was the slander by Columbia University President Shafik that the Palestine solidarity movement is antisemitic, and calling in the police to break up the protest on campus.

For months now we have faced a barrage of propaganda by government ministers, state officials, and the mainstream media, tarring anyone who supports the Palestinian people and opposes the Zionist government of Israel as anti-semitic. The irony is that many Jewish students have been actively participating in the Palestine solidarity movement, and are highly visible in the present wave of campus protests. They understand that to be against the genocide of Palestinians does not mean being antisemitic.

So far, more than 34,000 people have been killed in Gaza, with a further 77,000 wounded. Such brutality has stirred the consciences of hundreds of thousands of US students. They are not prepared to tolerate the Biden Administration’s open support for Netanyahu’s war. We have seen a long series of Palestine solidarity demonstrations, but these have had little to no effect on Biden and the US government. That explains why the movement has now moved to a higher level. US students want to do something more concrete to now stop the genocide. Many of their professors have joined in solidarity.

The US authorities thought that they could nip the movement in the bud by going in heavily with police repression at Columbia University, on a level not seen for decades, resulting in hundreds of arrests and students being suspended and expelled. But this has had precisely the opposite effect to what they had hoped for. It has enraged the students further at Columbia, and has served to spread the movement across the whole country. Starting with Yale, one campus after another has seen big mobilisations, and the movement continues to spread. It has begun to cross national borders, with attempts at occupation breaking out in France, Greece, Britain and Australia.

The level of police repression is having a deep and widespread radicalising effect. Students are learning about the real nature of the state – with its ‘armed bodies of men’ being used to defend the core interests of the US capitalist class – not in books but in the real-life experience of being beaten, manhandled and arrested. Police and state troopers have used batons, tear gas, officers on horseback, etc. against a peaceful movement exercising the democratic right to protest. In these conditions, young people learn fast!

The representatives of the state, in normal times, wash their mouths with all their talk about defending ‘democracy’ and humanitarian rights, while in reality they defend their own profits and privileges. The ongoing movement in the United States is revealing the real face of the system. This will have consequences in the future period. A new generation of militant youth is being forged.

The level of repression unleashed by the US authorities reveals that they fear this movement. They want to see it crushed and pushed back. But what is it that they fear? The capitalists and their political representatives in the United States are openly defending the interests of US capitalism. The supply of weapons to Israel involves both big money and the geostrategic interests of the US ruling class. The defence of Israel is a key element in US imperialism’s policy of both holding on to its spheres of influence around the world, and clawing back influence in areas it has lost out to its competitors.

This explains why the United States is involved in a global conflict stretching from Ukraine, to Palestine, from Africa to Latin America, and the Pacific. It is clashing with two major powers, Russia and China, whose influence and clout have massively increased in recent decades, encroaching on what was once considered the US’s spheres of influence. Iran has also spread its influence in the Middle East, emerging as a strong regional power, with connections in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It has become part of a chain of countries linked to Russia and China. The recent exchanges of drone and missile attacks between Israel and Iran, and the threat of a wider war between the two, is part of this wider conflict.

The US students are up against the most powerful imperialist force on the planet, which is pushing back to regain lost influence internationally. The US students can clearly see that, to stop Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza, they must stop US support for the Netanyahu regime.

They are demanding that American universities divest from both Israel and companies that are presently profiting from the war in Gaza. We fully agree with these demands. Not a cent and not a bullet should be provided to the Israeli government’s war machine. Without US aid, both financial and military, Israel would be much weakened in its military offensive in Gaza.

The question that must be posed is: how can the movement succeed in imposing its main aim of achieving divestment? Appealing to university administrations is not enough. These bodies have vested interests in continuing their economic ties with Israel. And major world corporations are involved here, from BlackRock to Google, Amazon, Lockheed Martin and many others, with billions of dollars at stake. These are the people that US cops are defending.

US students can see that what is required is a powerful, mass movement, direct action. In most cases, the details of financial relations of universities with these major corporations, and with Israel, are not publicly available. These accounts need to be made public. That is why one of the key demands should be: disclose, open the books; show us where the money is coming from and where it is being invested! All the dealings of university administrations with Israel should be made public.

The students in the US have made a good start. However, so far the demands have been placed on university authorities, which cannot be trusted. The movement needs to find ways of imposing its demands on these authorities. These people cannot be convinced through ‘dialogue’. They must be brought to a point where the movement is so powerful that they are forced to back off. The students have led the way. But to add weight to their campaign, they must spread their struggle into other layers of society.

This can start by approaching workers on the campuses, from the lecturers – some of whom have already risked their positions by coming out in defence of the students – to the admin staff, maintenance workers, research staff, etc. Pressure should be brought to bear on the trade unions, starting at the rank-and-file level, approaching shop stewards, and shop-steward committees.

Gaza solidarity Image public domainThe US is the single biggest exporter of arms to Israel / Image: public domain

A campaign should be organised at this level, with groups of students being sent to approach the different groups of workers. Joint worker-student actions should be organised. On a wider level, workers involved in transport, such as dockers, air cargo workers, etc., should be approached to apply a workers’ boycott whereby any transportation of any arms or goods to Israel that are part of the military offensive of the Israeli Army in Gaza should be blocked through strike action. Already, in other parts of the world, workers in these sectors have taken such initiatives. The highly publicised tenacity of students in the face of police repression has generated enormous sympathy and respect among wider layers, and we are sure the students would get a warm response from many of these workers.

The US is the single biggest exporter of arms to Israel. It accounts for around 65 percent of Israel's imports of conventional weapons. The next two major suppliers of arms to Israel are Germany (around 30 percent, and Italy at just under 5 percent). A successful workers’ boycott of Israel would severely damage its ability to continue its genocidal campaign in Gaza.

A successful campaign in the United States could be the stimulus for a series of such campaigns in one country after another, and would add to the effect if organised across Europe, especially in those countries heavily involved in providing arms to Israel.

Such a campaign, therefore, needs to be organised on an international scale. The fact that similar encampments to those we have seen in US campuses have taken place on campuses in Paris, Sydney and Cairo, with reports of similar efforts in other countries, is an indication of the potential for the movement to spread.

While the movement is aimed at stopping Israel’s butchery in Gaza, it is clear that the direct enemy of the US students is at home. It is the US ruling class, just as the enemy of the UK students is the Sunak government, that of the French students is Macron and his government, that of the Italian students is the Meloni government, and so on. All of these governments have used police forces to clamp down on Palestine solidarity activities in one way or another. Protestors have been batoned, tear-gassed and arrested in many countries.

The accusation of antisemitism has also been used systematically in all western countries in an attempt to criminalise the Palestine solidarity movement. The irony of this is that it is precisely the ruling class that foments racism. The same bourgeois ministers, who attempt to whip up a frenzy against migrants, and who issue scandalous statements aimed at provoking inter-ethnic conflicts – the tried and tested method of “divide and rule” – are now making a lot of noise about antisemitism.

We reject all these blatant manoeuvres of the capitalist class in all countries. We say: the enemy is at home. To help the Palestinian people we need to fight these enemies on the home front. Thus, “not a cent, not a bullet for the Israeli war machine” should be a clarion call for the whole movement. It should be aimed at all the national governments that are backing the genocide in Gaza.

Biden, Sunak, Macron, Scholz, Meloni, and all the other government leaders – of both the right-wing Conservatives, such as Sunak, and the Social-Democrats, whether in government like Scholz in Germany, or in opposition, such as Starmer in the UK – have the blood of the Palestinian people on their hands. They all defend the economic interests of their own ruling classes. And they all use the repressive forces of the state to physically attack, harass and arrest young protestors, whose only crime is actively campaigning to stop the criminal activities of their rulers.

All this brings out very clearly that the fight to defend the Palestinian people is at the same time a fight against the enemy at home, the capitalists, the ruling class, and their political representatives. The same politicians who can always find billions for bullets, bombs, drones and missiles, are those who cut spending on healthcare, on education, on public transport, on public housing. They are involved not only in fighting military wars, but also in the class war.

While dozens of local wars are being fought in different parts of the world, the capitalists are profiting from the bloodshed and destruction. We need to clean out all these parasites! For that, we need to organise all the most advanced, the most militant workers and youth into a genuine, revolutionary communist force in all countries. Such a force can begin the task of gathering together the best class fighters, all those individuals who want to change society but feel powerless on their own. We say: “In unity there is strength.” Help us build that party, which the working class and youth deserve.

So long as capitalism continues to exist, the capitalists will provoke one war after another. To put a final end to this barbarism, to this hell on earth, we need to radically transform society. That means we need to struggle for genuine communism, where the power is in the hands of those who produce the wealth: the workers of the world!

Not a cent, not a bullet for the Israeli war machine!

Free Palestine!

Intifada until victory, revolution until victory!

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