Radical Elders Statement in Support of Pro-Gaza Protesters at Columbia University

Radical Elders, an organization of over 350 Elders who have been activists and organizers in all the struggles of the past half century or more, and who have banded together to say “We ain’t done yet!” have sent a delegation to Columbia to support the pro-Palestinian protesters and their campus encampment. 

We want to applaud and honor the courage of the young students at Columbia in the face of a callous and cowardly administration that called in the New York Police to try and crush their peaceful and principled protest, libeling the their denunciation of Israel’s ongoing genocidal collective-punishment slaughter of the Palestinians of Gaza as being “antisemitic.”

Undeterred even by arrest, by suspension from the school they and their families paid or borrowed many tens of thousands of dollars to finance, by cancellation of their student jobs and fully paid-for housing, the protesting students have stuck to their tents and their protest. Even foreign student protesters who, once suspended, lose their student visas and face potential deportation, have not backed down. This includes Palestinian students, for whom being deported to their “homeland” in Gaza or the West Bank could be a death sentence.

Their courage and dogged refusal to quit the struggle has rekindled an antiwar movement on hundreds of campuses across the US, just as the SDS building takeovers at Columbia in 1968, 56 years ago today (April 30) ignited the anti-war, anti-racism struggle on US campuses that helped end the US war on Indochina and racist plans for a student gym on public property in nearby Morningside Park.

Some of us delivering this message of support were in the occupied buildings of the campus that year when then-President Grayson Kirk first called NYPD tactical cops with their clubs onto the Columbia campus to brutally drive out and arrest the students holding them. Kirk, who had to resign a few months later, is remembered today as a failure and a traitor to higher education. President Nemat Shafik will fare no better in the history of Columbia. 

The new McCarthyism in Washington, the media and university administrative offices, where the smear of “Anti-Semite!” has replaced the old ’50s and ’60s smear of “Communist!,” in an effort to crush anti-war protest, will be similarly defeated, as courageous people like the students on the quad here at Columbia stand against the war-makers, zionists, racists and imperialists.

Radical Elders salutes you!

We ain’t done yet!

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