Editor’s note: As an independent news source for the Brandeis community, The Hoot and its editorial board support publishing all opinions of our students, faculty and staff. As such, The Hoot does not serve as an arbiter on the sensitive topics herein. The views expressed within are not necessarily reflective of the beliefs of The Brandeis Hoot or its editorial board.
On Friday, Nov. 10 at approximately 4:37 p.m., Brandeis University used the Brandeis and Waltham police departments—as well as an armed private security group called Provident Response—to initiate a police riot. This shameless, premeditated violence was a deliberate act of repression targeting protestors dispersing from a peaceful demonstration condemning the university’s support for the genocide in Palestine, its hateful rhetoric targeting Palestinian people, and its derecognizing of the campus Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter.
In the days leading up to Nov. 10, the university used the police to target several of us for flyering, falsely claiming that it was “illegal” to put up pro-Palestine flyers on campus. We replied then, as we do now, that to be attacked by the enemy is a good thing, not a bad thing!
With every step Brandeis takes against students for normal political activity, it makes its position more apparent. We’ve made our politics clear: full support for the Palestinian people in their resistance to colonialism and genocide, and for oppressed people around the world in their struggles for liberation from the capitalist-imperialist system. In turn, the blatant attempts to repress us and our comrades have exposed the university for what it is: an agent of US imperialism, an institution propagating racist and colonialist narratives about oppressed people and a training ground for the next generation of staffers of the bureaucratic apparatuses of imperialism.
In particular, Brandeis’ vigorous persecution of student organizing in solidarity with Palestine reveals its specialized role as a lackey for US imperialist interests in the Middle East, and its enthusiastic support for the settler-colonial Zionist occupation and the genocide it is committing against the Palestinian people. This was evidenced with special clarity in Ron Liebowitz’s Oct. 23 statement expressing full support for the Zionist occupation’s right to “defend itself.” Such statements go beyond the hand-wringing equivocation typical of “liberal” institutions and instead indicate clear and open support for the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people.
Additionally, the appointment of Jay S. Ruderman—a former public liaison for the Zionist occupation’s military who was responsible for pro-apartheid propaganda work—to the Brandeis Board of Trustees is a further indicator of the structural role Brandeis plays in the ideological reproduction of US support for the Zionist occupation and the genocide it is committing against the Palestinian people.
While we condemn the repression of people standing up for justice in Palestine here at Brandeis and at universities across the country, we must be abundantly clear that the most violent and widespread repression targets predominantly working class Arab and Muslim people. Since Oct. 7 there has been an incredibly sharp rise in the amount of hate crimes committed against Arab and Muslim people. On Oct. 14, a six-year-old boy was killed and his mother wounded in their home in Plainfield, Illinois after they were stabbed by their landlord for being Palestinian. This past Saturday, Nov. 25, three college students were shot in Burlington, Vermont for being Palestinian and wearing keffiyehs.
These horrific and violent hate crimes are only two of many, none of which occurred in isolation at the hands of individual bad actors. Rather, these acts are spurred on by the governments of the US empire and the Zionist occupation, the imperialist-backed media outlets, and universities such as Brandeis. These institutions incite violence against oppressed people through their hateful rhetoric and perpetuation of narratives characterizing Palestinian people as “human animals” who are intrinsically violent and terroristic.
Our task as students has never been only to stand up against repression on campus. Our task is, and has been, to stand up against the oppression and violence imposed by the capitalist-imperialist system everywhere, on or off campus, within the US empire or across the ocean in Palestine.
When Brandeis attacks its own students for speaking out against bigotry and in support of resistance to colonialism and genocide, we know that we are correct in our stand with the working and oppressed people of the world. The employment of outside forces to attack students makes the university even more culpable: Brandeis continues to capitalize on its advertised commitments to “social justice” and “free expression,” while utilizing several armed groups to brutalize its own students for expressing support for justice in Palestine.
Brandeis’ hope is to silence the voices of anti-imperialist students and to crush resistance to its ongoing support for the genocide of Palestinian people.
We will not be silent.
We reiterate our demands of Brandeis University:
- That Brandeis stops supporting the Zionist occupation and the genocide it is committing against the Palestinian people through its engagement with the occupation’s economy and institutions.
- That Brandeis stops supporting and spreading racism and Islamophobia through its hateful rhetoric and defense of bigoted students.
- That Brandeis ends its repression of pro-Palestine voices on campus by reinstating SJP, calling for the dropping of all charges against the seven people arrested at the rally on Nov. 10, and not taking disciplinary action against pro-Palestine students.
Victory to the Palestinian people in their resistance to colonialism and genocide!