Close this search box.

In Solidarity with the Encampments! In Solidarity with Palestine!

May 21, 2024

The Spectre editorial board fully endorses, encourages, and supports the rapidly proliferating student movement in solidarity with Gaza. Students have organized in solidarity with Palestinian self-determination for decades, often in the face of severe repression. But the current wave of encampments and actions sweeping the US, and now the globe, is unlike anything we have ever seen: it is one of the most significant developments in the US Palestinian solidarity movement in our lifetimes. Now more than ever, solidarity with the Palestinian cause is a crystal clear political and moral litmus test.

This wave of encampments reveals the limits of violent repression. In fact, the more Republicans, Democrats, megadonors, Zionists, and like-minded ethnonationalists persuade university administrators to make short shrift of their pretensions to academic freedom, the more the encampment movement has grown. This defiant response to repression has foregrounded the moral clarity of the students, professors, university workers, and activists in their condemnation of the genocide being perpetrated in Gaza.

But these encampments for Gaza are only the tip of the iceberg. The repression they have faced is an expression of a wider attack on higher education. The ferocity of the clampdown against students, faculty, and communities protesting the genocide of the Palestinian people reflects the increasing corporatization of the university, which has seen the size of the nonacademic administrative apparatus balloon more than threefold over the past forty years. University officials are financial managers, not educators; they have been more concerned with appeasing wealthy donors, trustees, and members of Congress than protecting academic freedom. The cause of Palestinian liberation has been cynically equated with anti-Semitism and characterized as an issue of law and order, with university presidents parroting Zionist propagandists and collaborating with cops. The assault on the encampments is both a support for the Israeli colonial project and part of a larger attempt to destroy academic freedom.

We see this quite clearly with the vicious attacks on professors across the country. In her testimony to Congress, Columbia President Minouche Shafik abruptly announced that she would terminate the contract of visiting professor Mohamed Abdou after taking one of his Facebook posts out of context. Danny Shaw, an adjunct in the CUNY system, was similarly terminated after eighteen years of teaching—solely for his political speech on Twitter and in response to a coordinated attempt by Zionist activists to have him fired. These are two among countless examples. Even tenured professors are no longer safe; Jodi Dean was put on leave by Hobart and William Smith Colleges for an essay she wrote for the Verso blog—an essay! Meanwhile, valiant champions of free speech—from the Harpers letter signatories to those who defended the right of white supremacist and transphobic demagogues to speak on our campuses—are nowhere to be seen. The Palestine exception reigns supreme. This is nothing if not a new McCarthyism paired with the violent assault on student encampments, marches, and rallies. Corporate media outlets and Zionist administrators condemn peaceful protesters as “violent,” while cops fire live ammunition in campus buildings and aim sniper rifles at students’ heads. “Cops off campus!” is a minimum demand at this point; we also want to see the removal of any and all administrators who enabled this disgusting violence against students.


Along with student protesters, organized labor, and community activists, we know: From the river to the sea, Palestine—all of it, for everyone who lives in it—will be free! Free, free Palestine!

Behind all the bivouacked quads, there are precariously employed graduate students and professors taking tremendous risks with their pedagogy and tactical support, deeply politicized student bodies who increasingly support demands for divestment, and a whole network of artists, musicians, poets, librarians, cooks, and cleaning crews who do far more than keep the encampments viable. This collective effort has sustained the encampments as thorny sites of protest that refuse to overlook the tens of thousands of Gazans who the powers that be would have us pass over in silence. In doing so, the encampments have opened up new political possibilities, including the resurrection of a legacy of student radicalism running back from the struggles against South African apartheid to the movement to end the Vietnam war.

These encampments embody a new generation’s politics of solidarity—a chance to move beyond symbolic rallies and actually mobilize their campuses in struggle against the police, reactionary governing boards, genocide apologists, Zionists, and their fellow travelers. Participants in this movement have already achieved substantial organizational victories. Students in the University of California system have gained access to their schools’ financial investments in Israeli firms, while officials at Evergreen State College—Rachel Corrie’s alma mater—have agreed to work toward divesting from “companies that profit from gross human rights violations and/or the occupation of Palestinian territories.” Due to the efforts of student activists, Brown University will vote on divestment at their October 2024 Corporation meeting. Of course, these victories are scattered. Each encampment plays out in a particular context, meaning that the achievements gained in one place will not be attainable everywhere. It is crucial that movements learn from each other, while remaining clear-eyed about the limits of simply transposing strategies from campus to campus. Irrespective of these limits, these victories provide possibilities for future organizing and future victories as the struggle continues.

Above all, the encampments have revealed the structural leverage possible from organized forms and sites of mass protest. After more than six months of rallies and marches in the streets, the resurgent student movement has been a needed shot in the arm for the larger struggle in the United States and Europe to end the genocide in Gaza. This movement has dominated corporate media coverage, preoccupied election strategists, and quickly become the political mobilization most concerning to the chattering classes upholding the Zionist status quo. It is precisely because we find that status quo so abhorrent that we write to express our unconditional solidarity with these protesters, across both the country and the Atlantic.

Along with student protesters, organized labor, and community activists, we know: From the river to the sea, Palestine—all of it, for everyone who lives in it—will be free! Free, free Palestine!




While logged in, you may access all print issues.

If you’d like to log out, click here:


Support our Work

Gift Subscriptions, Renewals, and More