Over 50 students and Detroit residents attended a meeting Thursday of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at Wayne State University to oppose Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Joseph Kishore, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), was the speaker at the event.
Sentiment on the campus is overwhelmingly opposed to Israel’s assault on Gaza, particularly after the hospital bombing this week that killed 500 Palestinians.
Just prior to the IYSSE meeting, WSU’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; the Dean of Students Office; and the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement hosted an event titled “A Student Gathering on the Middle East Conflict: A Deeper Dive, A Deeper Understanding.” The gathering was billed as a “dialogue,” but a delegation from the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who attended the IYSSE meeting just afterwards reported that it was nothing of the sort.
“There was nothing neutral about this. At the beginning, they said, ‘This is not a place to debate,’” one attendee told the IYSSE meeting. She explained that they cited university guidelines to prevent democratic discussion in the forum. The SJP organized a peaceful walkout in protest of the meeting’s censorship and one-sided presentation of the situation in Gaza.
Mohammad and Deena, co-presidents of SJP at WSU, participated in both the walkout of the WSU-sponsored forum and the IYSSE meeting. Mohammed explained: “The fact that nobody reached out to us [SJP] and asked us if we are in favor of this, if there would be a speaker there representing our cause and what we stand for–that’s why we walked out.”
“We did not feel represented at all,” Deena added.
Many students who came to the IYSSE meeting also attended the demonstrations in Dearborn, home to the largest Arab-American population in the United States. Students of all races stated that they attended the meeting to show support for their Palestinian friends, and to learn about the root cause of the violence, which is capitalism.
Kishore began the meeting by noting the mass demonstrations throughout the world in opposition to the war on Gaza. “Such demonstrations are absolutely necessary,” he said, “and they reflect the real state of popular opinion, despite the relentless propaganda in the corporate media and from the capitalist governments. But it’s necessary to understand clearly what is happening and why, the political and historical context, in order to elaborate a strategy to oppose it.”
The report reviewed in detail the catastrophic situation in Gaza produced by Israel’s assault on the small territory, including the bombing of al-Ahli Arab Hospital; the blockade of food, water and other necessities, and the forcible transfer of 1.1 million people from northern Gaza to the south. By the International Criminal Court’s own definition, he noted, these actions constitute genocide and crimes against humanity.
The war could not be understood, however, only in relation to the actions of Israel. “The crimes of Israel,” Kishore said, “have the full and open support of the United States, of the Biden administration, of all the governments of Europe. They are all responsible for what is taking place. They are, in fact, co-criminals in any indictment list for the war crimes being carried out.”
Kishore stressed that the full support given to the Netanyahu regime, which he noted was deeply despised within Israel itself, could only be understood in relation to the broader war of the US-NATO axis, including the war against Russia over Ukraine and the preparations for war against Iran and China.
“Biden will be speaking in half an hour,” Kishore said, referring to Biden’s prime time address Thursday evening. “The theme of his remarks is going to be why the American people should support $100 billion in war funding for the war in Ukraine against Russia and to support Israel’s genocidal actions against Gaza.”
Kishore concluded his remarks by referring to the explosive growth of the class struggle throughout the world, including a developing strike wave in the United States, which the corporatist union apparatus is seeking to contain.
“What is happening in Israel and Gaza right now can only be described as a genocide, as a war crime, backed by the United States and all the imperialist powers… And the social force that is capable of ending imperialism is the international working class, which is in struggle all over the world. The necessary basis for the development of leadership in the working class is an understanding of history on the great historical experiences of the 20th century.”
The report was followed by an extensive question and answer period. At the conclusion of the meeting, several students and attendees recorded statements on the situation in Gaza, some of which are included below.
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