July 18, 2024

On Thursday, February 8th, 2024, droves of students, faculty, and alumni descended on Florida International University’s (FIU) Graham Center green lawns. The FIU branches of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA), and Muslim Student Association (MSA) organized a walk-out in opposition to the university’s Student Government Association (SGA) decision to nullify a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. Although the resolution was unlikely to pass, the SGA annulled it before it could even be considered for an official vote. The cowardly move embittered students disgusted by their university’s outspoken support for Israel’s genocide, leading to an immediate call to action. The crowd was approximately 100-strong and led by a large banner reading “ISRAEL IS COMMITTING GENOCIDE WITH OUR TAX MONEY.” Demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and draped in keffiyehs flooded the bustling lawn. Signs reading “Genocide Joe,” “Divest from Apartheid,” “FIU you can’t hide. You invest in Genocide,” “Ceasefire Now,” and “Israel off our campus” towered over attendees. Fiery speeches and loud, riveting chants reverberated around the campus, captivating the ears of all nearby. The march was met with sympathetic support from students, faculty, and alumni who nodded and clapped. But an excessive police presence lingered from beginning to end, eventually leading to the arrest of a student and member of the SJP and YDSA. 

The ironclad support for the Palestinian struggle displayed by students at FIU is commendable. Imperiled by the deadliest Israeli onslaught in its history, surpassing the Nakba of 1948, the struggle for a liberated Palestine demands vociferous support and a working class-based, revolutionary organization: the communist party!

Attendees Interview

Q: What brought you out here today?

A: Well, personally for the cause, Palestine, is a very important cause. I saw a post on Instagram from one of the people in YDSA and I thought I might as well go. I’m missing class so you know, it’s really important.

A: We actually were watching the SGA Zoom hearing so saw everything go on, we sat down for hours just to watch them do nothing. So we saw it take place and then we came out after and they were in a group and everyone was very mad and that’s kind of where they planned this walkout. 

A: Yeah, exactly. We were really upset over them shooting down the resolution and we wanted to come here today to show them that that was not okay. They didn’t even put it up for a vote, they shut it down. 

Q: Are you ashamed of your student government and your university?

A: Oh yeah! 

A: Fuck them.

A: I’m very glad that they even plastered their names everywhere because everyone needs to know who exactly it was that voted against it.

A: And it’s not even this isolated incident. It’s just like with many things like with DeSantis and the trans-exclusionary rulings and things like that. We, as a student body, we feel very ashamed because it is not representing our views.

A: It’s not representing the people at all. 

Q: Are you affiliated with any organization? 

A: Not directly, I try to come to YDSA events and stuff like that. 

A: I came as an individual because I saw the hearing and I was there. I’m not in YDSA or anything but I support and come out whenever I can. 

Q: What message are you trying to send with this event?

A: Being here is supporting. And as many people that can come out, the more the better. So just being here and making our voices heard really. 

A: Yeah.

A: Yeah, exactly.

Leadership of SJP-FIU Interview #1

Q: Why are you all out here?

A: So, a few weeks ago—by a few weeks I mean like two-three weeks ago, the Israel rep—representative of the Consul General came here to our campus. Y’know was welcomed here for an event right. And then the week afterwards, the actual Consul General himself came. The Consul General is a former IDF Commander, right. And he’s a representative of a genocidal state currently enacting what is the most horrific massacre we’ve seen in the last few decades. The fact that Jessel was comfortable to welcome him basically made us really feel like we have to push for our demands, to make ourselves heard, and to make ourselves seen here on this campus.

Q: What is your message to the SGA of FIU? 

A: SGA of FIU basically failed us, right. We had a petition with over 600 signatures. That’s historic. I don’t think we’ve ever had that much in FIU history. And rather than listen to the students and do their duty as Student Government Association, they failed us and they chose to protect their own careers, I guess? I don’t know, they chose fear. Fear and injustice. 

A: It was very disheartening. As we had a one-on-one SGA meeting with him [SGA President] as well as a with a few other members, and as a Palestinian myself, I went ahead and told him about my own background and about my own personal experiences in Palestine and being detained previously in the past. So when the vote went through and they said “No” I kind of lost hope. 

A: And it’s also very ridiculous. Because when Ukraine was invaded they rightfully released a statement. But, when it comes down to a very integral conflict in all of our lives, something that connects all of us, in terms of struggles like colonial struggles—anti-colonial struggles—in terms of the systems that really oppress us they choose to stay silent. It’s ridiculous.    

Q: During the ongoing peace negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Palestinian resistance’s demands “nonstarters.” On top of that, Netanyahu lambasted the peace talks and vowed Israel’s ‘total victory,’ receiving little to no backlash from its top donor, the U.S. Do you think our government really cares about ending the genocide in Gaza, or is it more interested in providing cover for its complicity in Israel’s crimes? 

A: The United States is just a giant corporation built off of settler colonialism*, right. And settler colonial states, they hold hands, they protect each other. As we saw in Rhodesia, South Africa where Israel and the United States, both racist states with apartheid systems helped prop up an apartheid state that was oppressing the native people. So, I’m not surprised the United States is basically providing unconditional aid. It’s to be expected when we see nations like this. 

Q: Do you think the U.S. wants peace? 

A: Have they ever wanted peace? Look at the last twenty years, they tell us Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons and that’s why we have to go inside and invade. And nothing ever happens. 

A: I just want to say that the government does whatever makes their lives easier.

A: Not just that, but being a corporation, there are always people who benefit from war. You get me? And those people are the ones who basically control everything, you know? There’s always the weapons manufacturers who can’t get enough.

A: There’s always a hidden agenda.

Q: The Biden administration has publicly stated that they are trying to prevent a regional war, that being said, yesterday the U.S. has undertaken a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria targeting groups opposed to Israel’s genocide and the U.S.’ presence in the region. What does this expansion of the war say about the U.S.’ role in this conflict? Do the bombing campaigns contradict their so-called desire for peace?

A: I think there’s a lot to benefit when the region is unstable. I mean, I’m not a political analyst of course so I’m not going to comment on that. But from what we’ve seen, there is a lot to benefit from fueling conflict from harming people. And the fact that the United States has repeatedly violated other country’s autonomy and other people’s right to survive, it’s not surprising. It’s something we’ve seen for the past forty-fifty years, whether it be in Vietnam, in Korea, or here, or over there. So the fact that the United States claims to want peace while also bombing people who opposing a genocide, and I’m not going to speak in support of the groups that are doing it, you know, of course. I’m just saying in general, just the principle of it, the fact that we are bombing people who are trying to stop a genocide.  Who are basically just stopping—for example, for stopping ships, right. The Houthis didn’t kill anybody. The Yemenis didn’t kill anybody. But, the Americans did. [Yemen] is the most poverty-stricken country and then you read about how the United States is trying to stop Saudi Arabia from forming a deal with them, you see how everything is interlinked. Any sort of challenge to power has to be stuffed out. It’s very similar to—I mean, I’d hate to make the Hunger Games reference but it’s very similar to that, you know. Or have you seen Avatar: The Last Airbender? It’s very similar to how in Ba Sing Se they would basically just brainwash the guides and then throw everybody else in jail who wouldn’t listen. Very very eerily similar. 

Leader Interview #2

Q: Why are you all out here?

A: Today we are out here to raise our voices for Palestine. And especially in light of the silence from administration, about the genocide about the crimes of Israel. We’re here to get the administration’s attention. We are here to raise awareness. We are calling for divestment from Israel. We are calling for FIU to divest from Israel. 

Q: What is your message to the SGA of FIU? 

A: The SGA is not truly representing the students. There were hundreds of students who backed our “Ceasefire Now!” resolution on record. All of those students, their voices were ignored by SGA. What I have to say is that they are not doing their job of representing the students. 

Q: During the ongoing peace negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the Palestinian resistance’s demands “nonstarters.” On top of that, Netanyahu lambasted the peace talks and vowed Israel’s ‘total victory,’ receiving little to no backlash from its top donor, the U.S. Do you think our government really cares about ending the genocide in Gaza, or is it more interested in providing cover for its complicity in Israel’s crimes? 

A: Definitely the latter. The government is definitely trying to cover up Israel’s crimes. It’s trying to keep its grip on power over the region through Israel. It’s definitely a cover-up. And they are not trying to stop the genocide at all.  

Q: The Biden administration has publicly stated that they are trying to prevent a regional war, that being said, yesterday the U.S. has undertaken a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria targeting groups opposed to Israel’s genocide and the U.S.’ presence in the region. What does this expansion of the war say about the U.S.’ role in this conflict? Do the bombing campaigns contradict their so-called desire for peace? 

A: The U.S. does not have a desire for peace but rather it has a desire for power. Right now it senses its power in the region threatened and it wants to reestablish a certain level of power. That’s why they don’t want to enter into a so-called regional war, but at the same time they are trying to show fake acts of power by bombing innocent people. And they are not truly out there for peace.

*The CWPUSA does not endorse the conception of settler-colonialism as a phenomenon distinct from or superseding capitalism. A more detailed analysis of this ideological trend is still required, particularly regarding Palestine and the Israeli settlements.