From 1968 to 2024 . . . the Struggle Continues 

NYPD raid on Hamilton Hall, Columbia University.

Yesterday Columbia University started suspending the students who refused to leave the encampment they built to protest Columbia’s support of Israel’s war against Palestinians. And shortly after midnight, the students responded by occupying Hamilton Hall, mirroring the action that initiated the 1968 protests which ended a week later on 30 April when 1000 students were arrested in a bloody confrontation with NY police.

I was one of the people arrested in the Math Building that night. And today I am cheering on the students who are calling Columbia to account for its support of the US/Israeli war machine. Sadly, I’ve heard a lot of people distance themselves from today’s actions by focusing on differences between then and now.

Duh . . . the world is vastly changed. . . and many books and PhD theses will be written to explore and understand those differences . . . but for me, there is something fundamental that connects our actions in 1968 and those of the students today — Taking a Stand Against Injustice, in solidarity with oppressed people on the other side of the world and in our own backyard.

The important dividing line isn’t between 1968 and 2024. Rather it’s between those who refuse to “take sides” and those who understand that in times of war, there is no defensible “middle ground.” At the end of the day, the “liberal” position which finds fault with both the Zionist and Palestinian positions is a function of privilege and fundamentally ends up supporting the status quo.

To the students in Hamilton Hall at Columbia and to the young people all over the world who are taking action . . . THANK YOU. I promise to do everything I can to marshall support for your courageous efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Bob Stein is a member of Columbia University’s class of 1967.