Anti-genocide college protestors inspire moral courage

Submitted by: Tony Magliano

With reportedly over 34,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza– 14,000 of them children – hospitals bombed, churches attacked – including Holy Family Catholic Church – elementary schools and universities destroyed, water and sanitation facilities demolished, ambulance and medical aid convoys fired upon, I ask what else could all of this non-stop Israeli military carnage be called other than genocide?

And what has been the overall response to all of this genocidal carnage? For the most part: Silence. Ongoing deadly silence.

The deadly terrorist attacks of Hamas reportedly killing 1,200 Jews – including 33 Israeli children – was indeed a very sad tragedy, but the ongoing six month Israeli military offensive against all Palestinians in Gaza – including Palestinian Christians – amounts to collective punishment which is forbidden by international law. And is nothing short of genocide.

Pope Francis prophetically said: “I will never tire of reiterating my call, addressed in particular to those who have political responsibility: ‘stop the bombs and missiles now, end hostile stances [everywhere]!’”

So then why all of the silence from our Catholic Church pulpits? Why is the Catholic press so timid here? Why are corporate board members not deciding to end the support of arms to Israel? Why are company stockholders not demanding an end to corporate support of the Israeli genocide? And why has the U.S. Congress recently voted to hand over to Israel $26 billion in military weaponry to keep fueling the flames of genocide in Gaza?

Why is there so little moral outrage? It’s like so many of the other atrocities being suffered by the poor and vulnerable – that is, a lack of interest among well-off and safe corporations, governments, and individuals who lack genuine compassionate care, and the moral courage to stand up and declare: Enough! Enough of all this evil.

Well, not so with many college students, and in some cases, faculties together with them, on dozens of U.S. university campuses standing up and declaring enough of all this evil.

They are doing what every person of good will – especially followers of the nonviolent Jesus –should be doing, namely: protesting against violence, injustice, complicity with evil, and genocide.

Protests that started at Columbia University in New York City have spread to many colleges and universities across the U.S. and in other countries.

Contrary to critics who claim the students are violent, the truth is that student demonstrators are overwhelmingly nonviolent in the face of unwarranted police arrests and hostile university administrations.

Yet, a favourite tactic of those pushing for more U.S. bombs for Israel to drop on Palestinian women and children is to brand the nonviolent students and as “anti-Semitic.” That charge is a smokescreen designed to coverup the genocide, and project a false guilt upon the morally courageous protesting students– some of whom are now facing suspension and even expulsion.

In fact, Jewish Voice for Peace has stated its full support for the college protestors.

All of this is reminiscent of the 1960’s and early 1970’s student protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam. Back then the protesting students were called “communist sympathisers”.

I stand with the student and faculty protestors mainly because their demands are consistent with the nonviolent Gospel of Jesus Christ and Catholic social teaching which insists upon peacemaking and social justice for all.

Student protestors are justly calling for an end to arms shipments to Israel, a permanent cease-fire, and university divestment of funds from companies that support the Israeli government’s merciless war against the Palestinians.

Encouragingly, in the 1980’s Columbia University students successfully pressured the university to divest from the apartheid regime that was in control of South Africa.

Most appropriately, let us remember and live the words of the late Jewish Nazi concentration camp survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

About the Author

Tony Magliano is not a member of the AUSCP. He is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

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