Bostonians demand: End Northeastern’s complicity in genocide!

Boston — On Feb. 4, over 1,200 demonstrators gathered at Roxbury Crossing station in Boston to demand Northeastern University end its support for the ongoing genocide in Gaza and drop frame-up charges against three NEU students, accused of “violating the student code of conduct.” 

Boston, Feb. 4, 2024. (WW Photo: Stevan Kirschbaum)

The action was organized by the Boston Coalition for Palestine, whose 36 organizational members include the Palestine House of New England, Workers World Party, Huskies for a Free Palestine and United American Indians of New England (UAINE).

The three charged NEU student activists helped organize a Dec. 1, 2023, sit-in at the Curry Student Center to demand the university divest from the State of Israel. Beginning Jan. 10, NEU’s Office of Student Conduct held show trial “hearings” on the students’ charges. Solidarity actions, such as the Jan. 10 demonstration held in front of Ell Hall, encountered an intensified crackdown from administrators and campus cops. They turned away activists, including members of Boston Workers World Party, who had shown up to support the accused students. 

On Jan. 30, NEU administrators put the three students on deferred suspension, leaving them at risk of expulsion should the university fabricate additional charges. Northeastern’s witch hunt is part of a broader campaign of intimidation, censorship and repression targeting the Palestinian-led solidarity movement. 

Linking Indigenous struggles

Benicio Crúz Branco, a member of the Indigenous Students Organization at Tufts and Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine, opened Sunday’s rally. Speaking on behalf of UAINE, Branco emphasized the longstanding solidarity between Palestinians and other Indigenous peoples fighting for liberation from settler colonialism worldwide. As Branco described, these struggles remain inextricably bound up together. 

The Zionist state, a crony in the U.S. settler-colonial empire, participates in oppressing Indigenous, Black, Latiné and other marginalized peoples around the world. Israeli companies, such as Elbit Systems, which has offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, supply many of the technologies and weapons police use to surveil and terrorize these communities in the U.S. and undocumented migrants at the Southern border.  

“Our struggle is their struggle,” Branco said of Palestinian resistance. “And their wins are our wins. … In our solidarity we must uphold all of it: the fundamental, inviolable principle of Palestinian liberation and the national rights of Palestinians, the right of self-determination, Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, the right to resist, the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands. 

“In the many forms it takes, resistance to genocidal occupiers will always be justified. Just as Palestinians call for their national sovereignty, we too must echo their call with our own support. As Palestinians seek the right to return to their homelands, we will stand with their fight for Land Back. Land Back for Palestinians!”

Lea Kayali, a Palestinian Harvard Students for Justice in Palestine member and leader of the Palestinian Youth Movement, stressed that the racist crackdown on global Palestinian solidarity movements betrayed ruling-class desperation in the face of the success of the Palestinian resistance and its supporters worldwide. 

Kayali said: “My people have not died in vain, and if you look at them, they’re telling you this every day. The empire is falling! Our resistance is winning! Our cause is gaining momentum world round. The world knows Zionism for what it is: a death cult. Zionism is a movement that converses only in death and destruction. Ours is a movement that trades in the currency of life, freedom and love. And if you look closely, Gaza is showing us the possibility of a free world.”

Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss denounced the Zionist propaganda that attempts to conflate the genocidal state of Israel with Judaism, whose traditions predate Zionist ideology by millennia:  “How dare [Zionists] take this beautiful religion and use it to kill and to murder and to maim and to occupy?  We will not be silenced!” 

Zionists ‘digging their own grave’

In his remarks, Fawaz Abusharkh, a leader of the Palestine House of New England, called for the liberation of Indigenous and oppressed people worldwide. He said: “Israel is digging their own grave by what they’re doing.  Justice eventually is going to be who’s going to prevail. And that’s going to be us, all of us. Not just the people in Gaza. Not just the Palestinians. It’s the Indigenous people … from Turtle Island to Jerusalem. We are all united, and we are all going to be free!”

From Roxbury Crossing, the demonstrators took over the streets of downtown Boston as they marched to NEU’s campus, with many waving Palestinian flags. As they marched, protesters chanted: “Globalize the Intifada!”; “From the River to the Sea”; and “Northeastern, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.” The march ended on Huntington Avenue, where protesters faced down the campus cops guarding NEU’s campus. 

A Huskies for a Free Palestine leader rallies protesters outside NEU’s campus. Boston, Feb. 4, 2024. (WW Photo: Stevan Kirschbaum)

As a Huskies for a Free Palestine leader emphasized, the repression and persecution by Northeastern and other bourgeois institutions must not silence supporters of Palestinian liberation: “What matters right [now] is the movement at hand.  What matters is sending collective demands.” 

The demands highlighted by Huskies for a Free Palestine are: an immediate end to Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza; that the NEU administration drop the trumped-up charges against the three student activists; and the university’s complete divestment from the weapons and technologies companies supporting the Zionist state.

Addressing the racist NEU administrators and donors, the Huskies for a Free Palestine said: “You can try to silence, to defer, to suspend students. But you cannot suspend the movement! … We will remain loud. We will not be silent. We will not back down. … We will not be intimidated, and you should not be either. Join the movement! Free Palestine!”

Will Hodgkinson

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Will Hodgkinson

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