Minneapolis, MN – On November 18, three University of Minnesota Twin Cities student organizations; (Students for a Democratic Society, Young Democratic Socialists of America, and Students for Justice in Palestine) held a rally and march starting in front of the Humphrey School of Public affairs on UMN campus.
This protest marked the end of the sixth week of Israel’s bombardment campaign against Gaza, and anger at the University of Minnesota’s unwillingness to denounce Israel’s ongoing war crimes in Gaza. Demands were directed at Jeff Ettinger in particular, the current interim president of the UMN, after he made a university-wide statement on October 11 condemning the “abhorrent acts committed by Hamas” without any reference to the ongoing Israeli occupation or acknowledging Israel’s war crimes and subjugation of the Palestinian people.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) member Amira Ahmed had this to say on Ettinger’s statement, “Do you, Jeff Ettinger, not see that in your silence, you are allowing the justification of terrorist acts committed by the IDF?” Ahmed went on to criticize Ettinger for refusing to acknowledge Israel’s bombing of hospitals and schools across Gaza and “failing to include historical significance, perpetuating a one sided agenda against the Palestinian people.”
U.S. divestment from Israel was highlighted as a step for Palestinian liberation by several speakers during the event. Emily Chu from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) said, “Israel cannot stand on its own without substantial financial and military support from the U.S.” Tracy Molm from Freedom Road Socialist Organization spoke further on this topic: “We must stand with Palestine and say no more to our hard-earned money, our tax dollars that we work for day in and day out at shitty jobs with no healthcare, no food or housing security, huge amounts of student debt; paying for the genocide of Palestinians.”
Molm also spoke about her visit to Gaza in 2004 and connected the Palestinian right to rebel to the struggle against police brutality in America. “Just like in 2020 when millions in the U.S. and across the world stood for justice for George Floyd, said no more to the unjust and cruel murder of Black people, we had a right to rebel against the oppression that the U.S. imposes on Black people and other oppressed nationalities in this country. The Palestinian people have a legal and moral right to rebel against the Israeli occupation forces, and a right to their land.”
After the first half of speakers, a contingent of roughly 300 students marched from the Humphrey building to Amy Klobuchar’s office. While marching, several bystanders and families from the residential Cedar Riverside neighborhood, through which the march route traversed, ran up to join in the chanting and marching.
After arriving at Klobuchar’s office, the speaker program resumed with Maysoon Pali from Americans for Muslim in Palestine (AMP), who highlighted some of the IDF’s most recent attempts at social media, particularly their now-deleted Twitter post claiming that a calendar they found in the basement of al-Shifa hospital was actually a list of Hamas actions. She continued to speak about how the tide is turning in favor of Palestine on social media stating, “Israel and the U.S. are terrified of this new tide on social media for exposing their lies. More people than ever now are seeing the truth about the real victims of this conflict, and it is up to us to keep pushing the truth to the front. Even just one more person who becomes educated on the conflict can become a wave of truth that spreads to other people, and it is through spreading the truth that we will free Palestine!”
Matt Steitz, speaking on behalf of Young Democratic Socialists of America, emphasized the importance of not staying neutral in times of global crises. “Today, those who do not stand up and proclaim that they support the liberation of the Palestinian people are not just giving in to the status quo. They are complicit in genocide!”
Other speakers at the protest included Sasmit Rahman from SDS and Erin Gable from the Anti-War Committee, who both spoke on the importance of continued protesting and not relenting until the demands for permanent divestment from Israel and the liberation of Palestine are met.