The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Stop the Rafah massacre, join an encampment

GSC Update

Good Shepherd Collective
Beit Sahour, Palestine
This map shows a small snapshot of the US-based encampments. With such a large distribution of encampments, its not difficult to find a location near you and offer material support to the frontline organizers. Head over to for the updated list. 

Dear friends,

Over the last weeks, students and organizers across all seven continents set up at least 113 encampments, with the primary goal of forcing universities to divest from genocide. These brave and beloved organizers are demanding that universities retract their financial investments from the institutions animating—as well as financially benefitting from—the zionist genocide of the Palestinian people. Student formations have been the face of the movement, particularly Students for Justice in Palestine and other Palestinian groups, but support for the encampment movement is diverse and representative of the broader solidarity movement. Over the last week, police forces from New York to France have beaten and arrested thousands of these courageous organizers, among them professors, clergy people, and people with disabilities. Students engaged in the encampment movements on their college campuses have not only faced arrests, but also suspension and displacement from their homes on campus. Through these encampments, all of those involved are illustrating the power and importance of sacrifice in solidarity. They are putting their safety and future on the line to get in the way of genocide, to not only throw sand in the machine, but remove its gears.

We love them for their unwavering commitment to their goals despite the daily threats and state violence they are facing. 

As many encampment sites have sprung up, there have been just as many efforts to diminish these powerful coordinated efforts, reductively (and incorrectly) labeling them “radical”, “unreasonable”, and even “antisemitic”. These inaccurate labels are not only an attempt to advance bigoted stereotypes to delegitimize the work of these students and their co-organizers. They are also an aggressive effort to demonize all of those involved in the encampment movement, suggesting they are “irrational” or “unprincipled”, rather than steadfast individuals building truly remarkable and highly organized spaces based on shared principles of liberation, decolonization, commitment to the value of human life, and a deep knowledge of each individual’s role in reshaping this world for the better. 

The encampments call on us to reevaluate our own standards of sacrifice and commitment to these principles. How far are we willing to go to confront and dismantle the mechanisms of genocide? How can we support those leading the way? Now is the time to step up and support those who are engaged in these efforts to ensure their success. 

Below is a list of ten reasons folks should get involved in the encampments directly, by participating themselves or supporting those organizing on the ground. Now is not the time to split our efforts on educational webinars while organizers risk their access to education and their careers to make a material change in Palestine. We must stand firmly together.

The Reality in Gaza: Every day, Israel is murdering Palestinians through targeted bombing campaigns, executions, invasions, and a manufactured famine. Throughout almost seven months of genocide, Israel has killed nearly 40,000 Palestinians—and possibly many more who remain missing. As more than 1 million internally displaced residents of Gaza have sought refuge in Rafah, the Israeli military has simultaneously been preparing for a large-scale invasion, establishing checkpoints designed to prevent Palestinian men from leaving the area. Analysts have noted that the Israeli military’s tactics in Rafah resemble the Srebrenica genocide, during which the Bosnian Serb army began by separating Bosniak men from their families. In Srebrenica, over 25,000 women, children, and elderly were forcibly deported to Kladanj on buses, while the men and boys were taken to detention centers near Bratunac. Tragically, more than 8,000 of these men and boys were ultimately executed. Rafah has all the makings of the Srebrenica genocide. We cannot allow Israel to carry out any more genocidal violence against beloved Palestinian men, women, and children.

Sustainability: The frontline defenders in these spaces need support. They simply can’t do it alone. They will need financial and legal assistance. Moral and emotional support in these spaces becomes more crucial as time progresses, particularly as the semester ends. Here in Palestine, when internationals come to intern and volunteer, they often bring new energy, conviction, and hopefulness, which helps to reinvigorate everyone emotionally, in a very meaningful way. Don’t underestimate what a new attitude of hopefulness and conviction can mean to a space that is eternally targeted by institutional violence from various angles. Even those in Gaza currently enduring a genocide have made time to express how deeply meaningful it is to see organizers around the world rallying to disrupt material support for the violence imposed upon them. It is only by connecting directly with the groups can you make your supportive offerings.

Amplifying Impact: By focusing on these encampments, smaller groups can contribute to a larger and more visible movement, amplifying their impact far beyond what they could achieve independently. Folks have their smaller organizational networks—churches, mosques, synagogues, and book clubs, to name a few—and can use them to amplify core messaging laid out by the encampment leadership. In turn, these can support more forms of support, and a diversity in the types of support. Opening your networks to these organizers is powerful. 

Solidarity and Unity: Supporting encampments fosters a sense of solidarity and unity among different groups and individuals who share the goals of stopping genocide and strengthening the overall movement for liberation through collaboration and shared resources. As the ruling class seeks to split us apart when they are confronted in material ways, our movement toward unity ensures durability. 

Strategic Influence: Universities play a critical role in shaping public opinion and policy due to their status as centers of education and research. Influencing university policies can lead to broader societal changes, particularly large investments in the industries profiting from and supporting Israel’s program of indigenous erasure. 

Resource Efficiency: Pooling resources with larger movements leads to more efficient use of funds, human power, and other resources, maximizing the effect of every dollar and effort spent.

Media Attention: Encampments and protests at universities attract media attention, which can help raise awareness and put pressure on relevant institutions to reconsider their investments and policies. But because media outlets serve the ruling class and its interests, having as many people as possible physically present to strategically record and report information in the service of Palestinian liberation is essential. 

Educational Opportunities: These encampments can serve as a platform to educate students and faculty about the issues at hand, potentially cultivating a new generation of activists who are well-informed about the complexities of the Palestinian cause and beyond it. Most importantly, it can serve as a space to develop a new form of solidarity, one based on decolonial praxis and theory. 
Moral Authority: By collectively and publicly protesting injustices, groups strengthen their moral authority and legitimacy in the eyes of their supporters and the broader public. Furthermore, when we win campaigns, we show each other that we can take on the next challenge together and triumph. 

Networking and Alliances: Participating in or supporting encampments helps groups build networks with other like-minded organizations, and fosters trust in these relationships, which will be critical for future collaborations and initiatives.

We don’t want to mince words—solidarity formations must prioritize the global encampment movements and invest physical, financial, and political resources to support it. Organizing movie nights or social gatherings must be put on hold in service of these encampments. Instead, consider organizing those events with folks in the encampments and bringing others to join. Book reading clubs and poetry jams should invest their time in mainstreaming the calls from within the encampment with authentic representation. Figure out how to meet the leadership where they are at, politically and strategically. Be humble and flexible, but most importantly, be committed to sacrifice in material ways. Sometimes this doesn’t mean brutal police arrests, but ordering pizza for those who are taking on those risks, delivering portable batteries to charge cell phones, bringing groceries, or collecting financial donations. If you’re part of a solidarity group that has balked at dropping everything in being of service to these groups, it is time you leave them. 

One way to connect with these groups is through the Students 4 Gaza: A Global Map of Encampments and Demands website

Until liberation and return, and with love,





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