c_o Miles Pinsof-Berlowitz

c/o Miles Pinsof-Berlowitz

Dozens of University students and community members gathered outside of North College in a planned demonstration to support Gazans currently under blockade by the Israeli government on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 4:30 p.m. Bearing signs decorated with red and green—the colors of the Palestinian flag—attendees proclaimed their support for the Palestinian liberation movement and, more specifically, a ceasefire in Gaza. Wesleyan Students for Justice in Palestine (WeSJP) organized the protest.

“Gathering so many Wes community members in support of Palestinian liberation was beautiful and devastating at the same time,” WeSJP organizer Batya Kline ’23 wrote in an email to The Argus. “Beautiful because the Wesleyan community firmly demonstrated opposition to Israel’s brutal violence against Palestinians and support for the Palestinian liberation struggle; devastating because what brought people together in demonstration is the State of Israel’s horrifying violence and Genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.”

The demonstration came after a week of campus events held in the immediate aftermath of the start of the Israel-Hamas war, including a listening circle held by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (ORSL), parallel protests in New Haven, and programs planned by the Wesleyan Jewish Community (WJC).

The protest was less than two weeks after Israel began a “complete siege” on Monday, Oct. 9, blocking electricity, water, food, and fuel from reaching Palestinian civilians. The siege—which Israel has scaled back, allowing a humanitarian aid convoy to cross the border into Gaza from Egypt—was an escalation of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip that began over sixteen years ago. The protest responded to these events, as well as Israel’s continual firing of missiles on the Gaza Strip.

“Free Gaza,” one sign proclaimed, painted in dripping red letters.

According to Palestinian authorities, as of Thursday, Oct. 26, a staggering 7,028 people, including nearly 3,000 children, had been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli offensive attacks just over two weeks ago—a total that is expected to increase during sustained Israeli missile strikes. More than 1,400 Israelis were killed in Hamas’ initial invasion and its aftermath.

In recent days, a growing bloc of world leaders and organizations have called for the Israeli government to pause its offensive. Notably, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire in the region on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Both United States and Israeli officials have dismissed such demands.

“WeSJP is committed to Palestine solidarity organizing even when the Wesleyan, American, and international community stops caring about the ethnic cleansing and settler colonial brutality committed by the State of Israel over the past two weeks and 75 years,” Kline wrote.

Demonstrators protested U.S. support of Israel. According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, the majority of United States’ total monetary aid to Israel since 1948 consists of military assistance.

“AmeriKKKa provided $150 billion to Israel,” another protester’s sign read.

At the demonstration, protesters made it clear that they would accept nothing less than an immediate cessation of both the Israeli military effort and the siege of Gaza. Attendees formed a half circle on the lawn of North College, where many of the University’s administrative offices are located, around mostly anonymous speakers who led chants, delivered speeches, and read poems. 

“We need to use mass public pressure to stop all U.S. military funding to Israel,” one speaker said. “Israeli capitalism and its imperialist bloc of allies, prominently featuring the U.S., is not going to give in unless we use our economic leverage.”

The demonstration consisted of a series of speeches, followed by a march. Organizers led attendees along College Row and onto Wyllys Avenue, walking around Fayerweather Hall and ending back on the lawn of North College. Protesters chanted as they marched, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of Gaza and of Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

c/o Miles Pinsof-Berlowitz

c/o Miles Pinsof-Berlowitz

As protesters have taken to the streets in the past two tumultuous weeks, Palestinian-aligned groups across the country have specifically faced online anger and threats of violence or death. These recent efforts to target Palestinian-aligned groups—including posting personal information of members of a coalition of Harvard student groups that published an anti-Israel message—cast a shadow over the demonstration on campus. One organizer held a poster detailing safety guidelines, suggesting that protesters conceal their identity, practice the buddy system, and refrain from sharing any personal details. Many in attendance heeded their recommendations: Some protesters wore black, while others donned facemasks and sunglasses to hide their face. 

“I am embarrassed to be a member of this school,” one speaker said. “I am embarrassed to be a citizen of this country…to take action on this, people are having to come cloaked. We have to avoid eyes because people are getting fired for speaking up against apartheid.”

While calls for a ceasefire have become increasingly mainstream in recent days, WeSJP made it clear that while it would be a good start, it wasn’t a sufficient measure to protect Palestinians.

“As we call on the University to use institutional power to motivate Congress towards [a] ceasefire and [to] prevent as much killing as possible, we are resolute that [a] ceasefire on its own leaves Israel’s apartheid system, military occupation, and settler colonialism across the entirety of historic Palestine,” Kline wrote.

At the demonstration, some speakers professed anti-capitalist messages, tying the conflict in Gaza directly to what they saw as a broader failure of wealthy capitalist nations. One speaker said she was a Wesleyan student and a member of Socialist Alternative, a national socialist organization. She argued that Hamas’ invasion, which killed hundreds of Israeli civilians, was the result of capitalist oppression.

“Capitalism is a global system,” the student said. “And that means that we need an internationally coordinated revolution.”

A student ventured through the crowd, handing out pamphlets with chants for attendees to shout, a Linktree with resources for students to get involved and learn more about the crisis, and a list of demands directed at the University and Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78.

“We demand…[that] President Roth acknowledge the history that he neglected in recent blog statements by recognizing [that] the current wave of violent anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, and Antisemitism in America [has been] created by government, media, and institutional rhetoric dehumanizing the victims of these atrocities,” the pamphlet reads. 

A chant on the back of the pamphlet doubled down on this claim.

“No words for genocide from Roth,” the chant said. “Use your voice to call them off!”

Roth declined to comment on the demonstration, and his office did not respond to a request for comment regarding the pamphlets that were handed out.

Other speakers shared poems and prayers, calling for peace between the warring forces.

“Peace to a land that was created for peace, but never saw a peaceful day,” one speaker said, repeating in English the phrase that she had just said in Arabic. “I wonder if I will be able to speak my native tongue. Or will they occupy that as well?”

Miles Pinsof-Berlowitz can be reached at mpinsofberlo@wesleyan.edu.

  • Wesleyan Alum

    This article is sick. Not once is the word terrorism used to describe Hamas and its cowardly murder of the Israeli people, including women and children. Truly incredible that this article makes it seem that Israel is the aggressor. Shame on the Argus.

    • Miles Pinsof-Berlowitz

      Thanks for reading!
      I published another article that is linked towards the beginning of the article detailing the horrific acts of terror committed by Hamas in their invasion of Israel. This article was meant to focus simply on the protest and organizers’ intentions.

      • Anonymous

        Sure. In that article you also refused to call Hamas terrorists. I also like how when you outlined the death toll in Israel in Gaza, you made special note of the number of children that have died in Gaza, but not in Israel. Are Israeli children’s deaths less worthy of mention? Shame on you.

  • DKE Bro


  • Disappointed

    Sure 1,400 Israelis were killed because of “capitalistic oppression” and not… hmm idk… antisemitism? Read Hamas’ charter that specifically calls for the death of jews and tell me they did this for “political reasons” and not cold-blooded hate. Don’t let fancy words let you justify hate.

  • NielsBohr

    There is so much misinformation attached to the current group-think it is difficult to know where to begin. There is no justification for any group to attack another with the barbarity visited upon innocent civilians in Israel. Start by turning on your moral compass. There is no justification for rape, murder and plunder. If you actually wish to invoke the mores of the 11th Century, all non-Muslims perish or are subjugated. Be careful of the current rhetoric. It promises to burn out of control and engulf everyone. While imperfect, the US is unique in the world for its tolerance. Destroy that civil fabric and you will live in a world whose cruelty you cannot begin to fathom. Other societies have been here before. It did not end well for them.