The Student Movement for Palestine Spreading Everywhere

Yorgos Mitralias

Posted May 12, 2024

Oxford University encampment

AS THE STUDENT movement in solidarity with the Palestinians and denunciation of their genocide by Israel intensifies in the United States and now spreads across the planet, there are growing indications that it is succeeding in influencing the central balance of forces while it is being recognized as a major factor in international developments of decisive importance! Thus, Washington’s “sudden” distancing of itself from the Netanyahu government, which followed (or perhaps preceded) Hamas’ acceptance of the Qatar-Egypt peace plan, is mainly attributed to the asphyxiating pressure exerted on President Biden and the world superpower establishment by the American student movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

It’s no coincidence, then, that Marwan Bishara himself, the chief commentator on Al Jazeera (which Netanyahu has just banned in Israel), attributes the sudden acceleration of political developments in the Middle East and the United States to the student movement spreading through American universities. A movement that he eloquently describes as a “major factor” in the sequence of events that led the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to headline on its front page that “Hamas has trapped Netanyahu”…

Admittedly, this movement, which has spread to more than 120 American colleges and universities, has support for the Palestinian people as its top priority. However, it is already widely recognized as a major factor in the cataclysmic developments that will follow the presidential elections in November, whoever wins. More concretely, the emergence of the mass youth movement as an independent, combative and radical third force against the two major traditional US parties is reshaping the political and social map of the United States, strengthening the left, labor unions, social movements and other existing forces in their looming civil conflict with fascist Trumpism and its militias. A civil conflict at the very heart of global capitalism, the outcome of which will largely determine the future and even the fate of the rest of humanity.

In the meantime, the proliferation of this American youth movement in at least 40 countries (at the time of writing), constitutes an event of historic proportions which clearly worries and even terrifies the owners and their chancelleries. The proof is that almost everywhere, from the USA, Germany and France to Morocco and Nigeria, and from South Korea and India to the Netherlands and Kenya, the repression of this movement not only exceeds in brutality all that has gone before (eg, the repression in May 68) and cynically tramples on the most elementary democratic rights, but it is also combined with a hysterical media campaign of denigration, aimed at accustoming citizens to the fact that their democratic freedoms are a distant memory.

Countries Where the Student Movement Spread — and Where It Hasn’t

United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, India, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Finland, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jordan, Lebanon, Spain, Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia, Canada, Argentina, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria, Brazil, South Korea, Thailand, Portugal, Sweden, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Kenya, Bosnia, Serbia…

However, the list of countries where this youth movement has already proliferated doesn’t just fill us only with optimism. It also fills us with sadness, because one country is missing, Greece, the Greek student movement! And it’s not just that this Greek absence constitutes an infamy, a great shame that will mark the Greek left for years to come. It’s also that the student movement and the Greek left are today missing a unique opportunity to denounce in action the very guilty relations maintained by Greek universities with Israel and its institutions. That they are also missing a golden opportunity to finally (!) denounce the scandalous support offered by Mitsotakis’ Greece to Netanyahu’s Israel, which makes Greece Israel’s staunchest ally in the Eastern Mediterranean and perhaps in the whole of Europe.

And that they are finally missing out on a historic opportunity to join and fight together with the best there is today on our planet, in an attempt to change not only our Greek reality but the whole world! Really, what is the Greek student movement waiting for to emerge from its apathy and respond to the expectations that are now being expressed daily by those bombarded and starving Palestinians of the martyred Gaza Strip, when they declare that their only real hope now is those they call “our brothers,” the students in America and around the world who express their solidarity and support through deeds and not just words?

But there’s not just a problem with the Greek student movement and the Greek left. There’s also a problem with those on the left around the world, who hide behind the most incredible “arguments” such as “yes, but we mustn’t forget the crimes of Hamas” or “the crimes of the Ayatollahs,” “yes, but the slogan ‘from the river to the sea’ is anti-Semitic,” “yes, but what am I going to tell my uncle in Tel Aviv,” “yes, but Israel has its rights too,” etc., to justify their (prolonged) silence or absence from demonstrations against what is a real crime against humanity perpetrated in Gaza, the very definition of genocide!

The problem with all these people is not only their monstrous insensitivity to the unprecedented suffering inflicted by the Israeli army and Israeli settlers on hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians, especially women and children. Another problem, at least as important, is that they are turning their backs on a planetary youth movement that is currently the only tangible force available to humanity to confront, with any hope of success, the major crises that directly threaten it: climate catastrophe, the risk of widespread intra-imperialist war and the fascist tide.

But precisely because this youth movement represents humanity’s only hope, there can be no doubt that it will be suppressed with the utmost ferocity by its class enemies. However, in the terrible confrontation already looming on the horizon, this global movement will not stand alone. Already in the United States, it is drawing around it both the great anti-racist, climate, feminist and other social movements that have sprung up especially in the last decade, and the revitalized trade union movement that is winning victory after victory after decades of crisis and setback.

And it’s no coincidence that, proportionately speaking, we’re beginning to see the same thing taking shape even in Europe, where the far right is going from strength to strength. For example, in Belgium (Ghent), where the movement in support of the Palestinians and the movement against climate catastrophe are joining forces. Or in France, where the student mobilization (Sorbonne) against the genocide of the Palestinians is being actively joined by the Youth for Climate movement (founded by Greta Thunberg) and young people from disadvantaged suburbs, while at the same time the mobilization is beginning to extend to high schools across the country.

Finally, who would dare, in this month of May 2024, to claim that the younger generation is not resisting and fighting tooth and nail against the barbarism of our neoliberal times? Everywhere on earth, East and West, North and South. Everywhere, here and now…

UPDATE: Since Monday 13 May, the student movement for Palestine has spread to Greece with a combative meeting coupled with a popular concert at the Propylaea, right in the centre of Athens. Dozens of students spent the night in their tents on the grass, surrounded by thousands of other students and citizens who showed their support until morning. The following day, Greek students continued to mobilise with the occupation of the Faculty of Law and demonstrations at provincial universities.

A major demonstration is scheduled for Wednesday 15 May to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba. In short, the Greek student movement, which has been slow to get going, has just done so en masse and in a very promising way!

Translated from the Greek.


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