By Sophie Squire
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US school students plan ‘strike for Gaza’ as Palestine encampments grow

There are over 100 encampments at universities in the US—and new groups keep setting them up
Issue 2907
a banner reads Harvard divest illustrating an article about the US student encampments

Students take action at Harvard as part of the US student encampments (Picture: National SJP)

US school students in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC plan to join the revolt for Palestine on Friday, with a coordinated walkout and march to the White House. 

Their demands include an end to “unconditional military aid to Israel” and a “call for a permanent and immediate ceasefire”. The DMV School Strike for Palestine group wrote on its Instagram, “We have an obligation to stop business as usual and stand up as our age-peers are being slaughtered on US tax dollars. 

“We are striking to show our communities and governments that the youth will no longer be complicit in the incessant violence against Palestinians. We are striking to start conversations within our communities about the injustices our government is committing.” 

The planned action by school students comes amid the Palestine encampments at over 100 encampments at universities in the US. 

Clare Fester wrote for US socialist group Marx 21, “The encampments have already had a huge impact, drawing national and international attention to the brutality of Israel’s occupation. Now students have forced over a dozen universities to the negotiating table.

“The concessions vary across campuses. The demand university bosses are most afraid of is divestment. Another demand they fear is cutting ties with Israeli universities.

“Some agreements made the mistake of promising not to re-establish encampments. It is important that encampments either reject this stipulation or be prepared to break agreements that include them. 

“It is likely students will need to return to the encampments and other forms of disruptive protest in order to hold the universities to account.

“The UAW 4811 union branch in California is practicing what students and university workers must all be prepared to do when school goes back in the fall. If lecturers refuse to teach, grad workers refuse to grade, students refuse to go to class, and support staff refuse to run the campuses, we will be in a much better position. 

“This will also send a message to Biden and the Democrats as the presidential election nears. Our summer assignment is to prepare to camp out, sit in, and strike back for Palestine.”

Managements are trying to cover up that the movement keeps growing. Columbia University edited footage and omitted images of students holding Palestinian flags or wearing Keffiyehs at their graduation ceremony this week. 

Graduating students in the Teachers’ College at Columbia, who held up banners when they got up to get their diplomas, were cut from the video stream of the ceremony. Others at Columbia didn’t attend their graduation ceremony, but instead organised their own “People’s Graduation”. 

New groups of students are still starting encampments. Students at Drexel University in Philadelphia set up their encampment last Saturday. The university president ordered them to take their camp down on Monday, but they refused. 

Barricades were still up to protect the encampment at California State University (CSU), Los Angeles campus. The camp has now been up for more than three weeks. On Tuesday, students from several campuses marched to the CSU chancellor’s office in Long Beach, chanting, “CSU divest.” 

At other universities, protests have forced administrations to make concessions to students. At the New School in New York, students and workers joined together to create their encampment. 

Their action worked, and the university’s management promised to hold a vote on whether to divest from companies that fund the Israeli state. But students and workers made clear that it wasn’t the end of their fight and picketed a benefit gala on Tuesday. 

Other university managements have called the cops to break up encampments. On Tuesday the cops tore into the encampment at the University of Michigan, breaking up the camp and pepper spraying students. The camp had been up for a month. 

Students and supporters held a big rally outside the sheriff’s office, which was holding arrested students inside the next day. 

Bosses at the University of California (UC) are trying to stop a strike by workers on the Santa Cruz campus, which began on Monday. 

After two days of strikes, UC management asked the Public Employment Relations Board if it would serve an injunction against the members of the UAW 4811 branch. This injunction would ban the strike.

The National Students for Justice in Palestine group has backed a united strike. It wrote in a statement, “The path forward is clear—UAW 4811 must immediately call a strike at all University of California campuses.” 

Workers should follow the lead of those in UAW 4811 and join the students in the fight. 

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