Ain’t Gonna Study War No More

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McGill protests

I don’t know how many encampments have been established on Canadian campuses, but I learned (conversation between scholar Angela Davis & Dr. Gabor Mate – Science & Non- Duality, SAND, Palestine & the World, 17thMay, 2024) that there have been over 180 on various US campuses, a level of student protest not seen since Vietnam War. My alma mater, McGill, is presently seeking an injunction against its protesters’ encampment, which has been peacefully in place these last few weeks and getting a lot of front page coverage in Quebec. While these encampments have been student-led interfaith non-violent gatherings involving a disproportionate number of Jewish students, many’ve been attacked and ruthlessly shut down by city police forces and university administrations. Sometimes, as at UCLA, the students were attacked late at night by a violent mob with clear connections to the ultra-right and extremist Zionism, while police basically stood by and failed to protect them. This is why Max Blumenthal entitled his May 8th, 2024, report on The Grey Zone, “The Occupation Comes Home”.

The negative publicity surrounding the encampments has been massive. They have been depicted as anti-semitic for having the audacity to criticize Israel. The media have taken at face- value the Zionist claim that the freedom slogan “From the River to the Sea” is a call for genocide against Jews. This is complete nonsense. Many of these encampments hold weekly Shabat ceremonies, led by such principled people as Rabbi Brant Rosen of T’sedek synagogue in Chicago, and their key speakers and leaders are often Jewish (see his Shalom Rav blog, 17thMay, 2024.) Fanatical pro-Israel students, such as the young woman at Yale in early May who made inflammatory, highly publicized claims of being “stabbed in the eye” by a protestor’s placard, an accusation soon shown to be utterly false, are desperately seeking to discredit the students.

Peter Beinart – Journalist, Professor at CUNY, and religious Jew – wrote that he’s visited many encampments recently and has been moved by their inclusivity, respect for all faith traditions, and for Jews he spoke with, a kind of renewal of their connection to their Jewish values. (Beinart blog 20th May, 2024.)

Max Blumenthal’s The Occupation Comes Home was filmed in a talk to students at UMass. I find Max particularly compelling because he is a Jewish-American about the age of my sons, who grew up in Washington DC as the son of a government insider. His dad was an advisor to Clinton. He knows the game inside and out, and is a fearless investigative reporter. His 2014 book “Goliath” is a gripping read about the real Israel, the apartheid Israel, based on 5 years of on-the-ground research. This is not the wonderful high-tech, LGBTQ-friendly face Israel likes to show to the world. While most people shrugged off Israel as mainly a positive influence, Max said back then that Israel was a society primed for genocide; his humanity allows him no satisfaction over that foresight. As any student of Israel-Palestine knows, the events of October 7th were a very long time coming, and not unexpected. What has truly shocked the world is the magnitude and severity of Israel’s response, and the West’s complicity in that extreme response.

As Angela Davis states so cogently in the SAND webinar (above): “placing violence at the forefront” [ie, Hamas’ October 7th attack] ignores all the systemic issues that led to the eruption

of that violence. This is an issue, she says, that has always clouded liberation movements, and “it misconstrues the extent to which the State uses and monopolizes violence against the people”. She points to the extensive reporting of Palestinian children throwing stones in resistance to Israeli repression and the fact that the tanks & bombs of the Israeli army- “the vast violence of militarism”- are not even considered newsworthy, making it very hard for readers to be on the right side of history. Now the truth is exploding out.

Max Blumenthal considers also that the mask of American liberal democracy is being peeled back, which is why so many are joining the movement. He says: “The US is corroding its own carefully crafted image to accommodate the genocide imperatives of Zionism, and everyone can see it.” In the US, we are indeed seeing violent crackdowns on the student protesters; we are also seeing principled leaders like The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, Professor & President of Union Theological College (UTC) at Columbia in New York, supporting the encampments. UTC is in dialogue with its students about divestment from armaments, guns and for-profit prisons, having divested from fossil fuels in 2014. UTC is also part of a group of 50+ organizations committed to Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) who manage a fund of over $3.1 Trillion, no small change! She talks with Amy Goodman (early May, 2024) on Democracy Now! about the uptake of university professors weighing in to support the students. With a genocide going on, Jones says: “they feel this is the moral issue of our time”, and we must stand with them. I agree.