Against a political atmosphere that increasingly mirrors the repressive McCarthy period of the 1950s, a new wave of activists are braving the backlash to speak out for Palestine and against the horrific genocidal war being waged by the U.S. and Israel. Facing doxxing, firings, the loss of potential job opportunities, the suppression and even suspensions of campus organizations and the threats of state repression, young people are pushing back.
After Columbia University suspended campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace on Nov. 10, over 40 other Columbia student groups formed a coalition to demand that the school divest from Israeli apartheid. The formation of Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) was announced at a rally of hundreds of students and faculty on Nov. 14. CUAD is also calling for the cancellation of a new Columbia campus planned in Tel Aviv.
Attendance at the pro-Zionist rally in Washington on Nov. 14 was diminished by several hundred people who had flown on chartered planes from Detroit, only to be left stranded on the tarmac of the Dulles International airport when charter bus drivers called out sick after learning the buses would be taking people to the pro-Israel rally.
Journalists challenge corporate media bias
On Nov. 4, the New York Times Magazine announced that award-winning journalist Jazmine Hughes resigned after she was cited for violating newsroom policy. Hughes said she resigned under pressure. (Vanity Fair, Nov. 15) She had signed a letter from Writers Against the War on Gaza on Oct. 26, accusing Israel of targeting journalists and “conducting genocide against the Palestinian people.”
Two weeks later, Anne Boyer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, essayist and poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine, resigned, noting: “The Israeli state’s U.S.-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone — I won’t write about poetry amid the ‘reasonable’ tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering.”
Over 750 journalists from dozens of news outlets, including the Times, signed another open letter published Nov. 9, condemning Israel’s killing of reporters in Gaza and criticizing the Western media’s coverage of the war. Their letter said, “Newsrooms are accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that serves to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” (Washington Post, Nov. 9)
According to Semafor.com, the Los Angeles Times is now blocking writers who signed the letter from writing about the war for three months. (Nov. 17)
On Nov. 17, the Washington Post reported that Iraqi-American freelance writer and illustrator Mona Chalabi, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times earlier in 2023, publicly criticized the Pulitzer awards ceremony for overlooking Palestinian journalists. On Instagram, where she has 468,000 followers, Chalabi posted a chart depicting the Times’ obvious bias regarding coverage of Israeli deaths versus Palestinian deaths, even though the number of Palestinians killed has skyrocketed.
A pro-Palestine statement calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, presented by nominee Aaliyah Bilal, flanked by 18 finalists, closed the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City on Nov. 15. It read: “We oppose antisemitism and anti-Palestinian sentiment and Islamophobia equally, accepting the human dignity of all parties, knowing that further bloodshed does nothing to secure lasting peace in the region.” (BNN.Network, Nov. 16)