While huge demonstrations in support of the Palestinian people are taking place every day in the U.S., attacks on organizers are escalating. Right-wing forces, enabled by the corporate media, have employed intimidation tactics directed especially at Black and Arab student organizers.
At Harvard University, a coalition of over 30 student organizations signed onto a letter denouncing the Israeli occupation and recognizing it as the source of the Palestinian resistance. Some of these students have since faced public harassment and death threats.
These scare tactics are meant to intimidate and prevent the public from speaking out against Israel’s atrocities — the murder of over 8,000 Palestinians and the bombardment of hospitals, residences, refugee camps and evacuation routes. Despite these attacks, student organizers are standing strong and continuing to call for an end to the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that flow to Israel.
Liberation News spoke with Amari Butler and Kojo Acheampong, organizers with the African and African American Resistance Organization at Harvard.
Liberation News: What kinds of attacks have Harvard student organizers faced?
Kojo: Student organizers who signed the Harvard Palestinian Solidarity Committee’s first statement in response to October 7th had our names circulate on lists calling us antisemitic and calling for various forms of punishment. Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund CEO, wants us to be indefinitely unemployed and called for CEOs to put us on a blacklist. Adam Guillete, president of the right-wing watchdog group Accuracy in Media, has been parading a truck with our faces and names on it that says, “Harvard’s Leading Antisemites.” Now that truck is going to folks’ hometowns — I believe it’s going to my hometown today!
LN: How have you and your organizations responded to these attacks?
Kojo: We have stayed strong and committed in our organizing efforts towards a free Palestine. These are cowardly attacks that seek to deter us, but, if anything, they have only inspired us to push forward even harder because it is clear that the ruling class is frightened. It is important that we remain steadfast and vigilant for a free Palestine. The large demonstrations around the world show that the people are with Palestine — they have our backs.
We understand that it is the media and the propaganda machine that is the U.S. that is creating the climate for these attacks, so an open letter is being circulated by the ANSWER Coalition to denounce these shameless attacks and inspire people to keep up the support for the Palestinian people.
LN: How do these attacks relate to other attempts to silence Palestinian activism in the past?
Amari: The smear campaign and suppression we’re experiencing now is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, anytime an oppressed people tries to liberate themselves in any way, they’re met with slanderous backlash and brutal repression. In Palestine, the nonviolent 2018-2019 Great March of Return resulted in Israeli snipers killing hundreds of Palestinians and wounding thousands more. Here in the belly of the beast, there have been multiple instances in the past years of people being doxxed or losing their jobs for saying anything as simple as “from the river to the sea.”
But all of these are intimidation tactics to scare us out of advocating for Palestine. The Zionists are panicking at our strength and are forced to resort to the most shameful and disgusting tactics out of desperation. So if anything it’s been kind of validating because we know that we’re on the right side of history and our cause is just. History will absolve all of those who stand with liberation!
LN: How have these attacks impacted organizing around Palestine solidarity on campus?
Kojo: In the beginning, it had a chilling effect, which is what the Zionists intended. Some organizers were frightened in light of these attacks to be so public about their support for Palestine.
But since then the tide has really turned. When Israel stepped up its atrocities for the whole world to see, it became clear to every organizer that we had a duty to stand proud because we’re on the right side of history. Now student organizations and the people themselves are organizing boldly and without fear.
LN: What would you say to others who support Palestine but aren’t sure what to do?
Kojo: Come out to rallies and get connected with people there. There are so, so, so many organizations doing great work in solidarity with Palestine, it’s simply a matter of getting out there!
Amari: Don’t concede to the scare tactics because that’s exactly what they want! In reality, it’s the Zionists that are scared. They’re scared because we have the power of the people on our side, and we’re not afraid to show it. Over the last few weeks tens of thousands throughout the country have flooded into the streets in defense of Palestine. Our strength is in these numbers so make sure to come out and be proud of your support!
Now is the time to stand with the people of Palestine! If Israel is not stopped, thousands more innocent Palestinians will be killed. The intimidation tactics of both ruling parties and right-wing forces must be overcome. The cost of inaction is too high.
On Nov. 4, tens of thousands of people will march on Washington, D.C. Click here to find transportation and join.