The Students for Justice in Palestine organization protested the Israeli occupation of the West Bank on Oct. 25 on Cal State Long Beach’s central quad.
Around 150 protesters and observers gathered on the grassy area in front of the art store. Throughout the protests, those who participated shouted sayings such as, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Protesters refused to answer questions from the media, and stated a press release would be given to media via email. One protester shouted that media should, “not bother,” asking questions to those involved in the walk out.
Student Darrell Hale was in attendance at the protest as an observer but supports the Palestinian movement.
“I get why they sort [of] don’t want to talk to media, because I think if you have sort of been paying attention, even when you give quotes, it is very easy to get misconstrued,” Hale said. “I saw that other guy with the Israeli flag, he left after a while, he didn’t get the reactions he wanted so it seems like he was just sorta going home.”
The gathering of speakers wore masks and keffiyehs and held signs stating, “from Palestine to Mexico, border walls have to go,” and “resistance against occupation is a human right.” Protesters using megaphones exclaimed their disdain for the occupation and urged students to boycott companies such as Starbucks, HP and McDonalds to support the movement.
“Zionists on this campus just two weeks ago, in an ASI meeting, declared about how certain organizations on this campus should be disbanded,” one masked protester shouted. “We received death threats from those Zionist students, that we caused negative attention worldwide for our protests here at Cal State Long Beach.”
Counter-protesters stood outside of the central quad before the protest began and headed over to where the pro-Palestine gathering were to share their views. The counter-protesters consisted of two people, one carrying a flag of Israel and the other holding a sign stating “Hamas = Iran = ISIS.”
The CSULB Jewish Employees Association published the following in a statement via email and their webpage:
“Inflammatory anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist, or anti-Jewish speech, posters, demonstrations, and events fuel antisemitism, which is well-documented as being on the rise throughout the world. Even if the intentions are to challenge the conservative Netanyahu government or to lend aid to Palestinians trapped in Gaza, the effect is to inflame antisemitic sentiment, which puts our Jewish students, staff members, colleagues, and friends at risk for their lives.”
After their initial speakers finished, the protesters and observers marched through campus to the Go Beach sign, where the second round of protesters began to speak. In attendance were La F.U.E.R.Z.A. and Anakbayan Long Beach members, where they shared their views on the common political struggle.
Student Enrique Martinez shouted past at the protesters in opposition of their walkout.
“I am a supporter of the right to free speech, and I am exercising that right currently. I believe it’s [the protest] wrong,” Martinez said. “They are, by proxy, supporting a terrorist organization. That’s why I shouted ‘change your government first,’ and you’ll be justified to protest against the consequences you perpetrated against yourself.”
The countrywide walkout was first promoted by the student activism group Dissenters, who released a statement on Oct. 9 stating, “As young people based in the U.S., we are committed to dismantling the U.S. military-industrial complex. We will continue to cut ties with the military industry, including US corporations like Boeing Company and Raytheon Technologies who supply bombs and Iron Dome interceptor components to Israel.”
The social media for the Dissenters states that the CSU system invest in military-defense equipment and enable the war between Israel and Hamas. Dissenters and their subsequent chapters request two demands; divesting from university-partnered manufacturers and end to “Israel’s siege on Gaza and U.S. funding for Israel.”
SJP states a part of the protest will be focused on the partnerships CSULB has with various military defense contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Wednesday night in front of Brotman Hall at 6:30 p.m.
This article was updated on Oct. 25, 2023 for clarity and accuracy.