Amid strike against Gaza war at University of California, defense plant near UCLA linked to Israeli bombing of tent camp

Section of the students and other anti-genocide protesters at UCLA, May 23, 2024.

The strike at the University of California against protest crackdowns continued into its 10th day Wednesday. Academic workers from UCLA and UC Davis picketed for the second day since being called out on Tuesday.

The strike by members of United Auto Workers Local 4811 is a critical development because it points to the need for the working class to emerge as the basic force against war and in defense of free speech. It also is the result of the initiative taken by the rank and file against stonewalling by the UAW bureaucracy, which backs “Genocide Joe” Biden.

Initially, the UAW limited the strike to only a single campus, UC Santa Cruz, out of the 10-campus UC system. But rank-and-file anger forced the UAW to sanction the expansion of the strike to two more campuses after it became clear the UAW bureaucracy could not keep workers there on the job.

“I think the fact that Santa Cruz, UCLA and Davis are all out now is very promising, but we need all 48,000,” one UCLA student said. “I’m hoping that the other campuses will be called out soon.”

The World Socialist Web Site urges workers to form rank-and-file strike committees to expand the strike to all 10 campuses and oppose attempts by the union bureaucrats to shut down the strike with a sellout deal. This must be the starting point for a broad movement drawing in other sections of the working class, especially UAW members in the auto factories and munitions plants.

The working class must organize independently against both pro-war parties and the pro-corporate union bureaucrats to force an end to the genocide and the attack on the right to protest.

Meanwhile, demonstrations are continuing to build at campuses across California. A student group at UC Santa Barbara took over a campus dining hall Tuesday because they “would rather the school’s money go to feeding the students than bombs or war research,” according to the campus newspaper the Daily Nexus.

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Last Thursday, a student protester was arrested and banned from the campus of Stanford University on the pretext that her activism was a “danger” to the campus. A statement by a student group declared:

This is an absurd claim, especially given the numerous incidents of violence and harassment that pro-Palestinian students have faced in the past several months without recourse.

Earlier this year, 18 Stanford students were arrested after police shut down a sit-in against the Gaza genocide.

Components of bomb dropped on Gaza linked to Southern California facility

Articles published by several news outlets Wednesday reported that the bombs used by Israel to kill dozens of civilians in a tent encampment Sunday were made in the United States. The GBU-39 small diameter bomb (SDB) is manufactured by Boeing, but components were linked via a serial number to Woodward HRT, according to the Washington Post.

According to the Post, the US State Department approved the transfer of more than 1,000 such bombs to Israel just last month. This underscores the fact that the Biden administration is not just shielding the Israeli regime from the consequences of the genocide it is perpetrating in Gaza. Rather, the United States is a direct participant in the slaughter.

A weapons expert told CNN Tuesday night that the GBU-39 is “designed to attack strategically important point targets” and result in low collateral damage. But, he added, “using any munition, even of this size, will always incur risk.”

The bomb fragments were almost certainly produced at the company’s facility in Santa Clarita, California, located only 30 miles to the north of UCLA’s campus.

On Wednesday, the WSWS urged pickets at UCLA to go to this facility and win the support of workers at the plant.

When asked about the need to form rank-and-file committees, the UCLA student said:

I think what you’re saying is ultimately what we’re going to need. We need to shut everything down. Not just the campuses, but the work places and especially the defense industry. Going up to Woodward in Santa Clarita would be an excellent start.

What’s going on here isn’t just about the war, but is an attack on free speech. Anyone can come on this campus and say whatever they want about Israel. They could stand up in the middle of their classes and say they hope more Palestinian children get murdered, but the moment you say you think killing innocent Palestinian people is wrong, not even saying anything about holding the Israeli government responsible, just that the killing itself is wrong, you get disciplined and expelled.

A graduate teaching assistant in the Chemistry Department said it was important for workers to come out to support the victimized pro-Palestinian students.

The teaching assistant said:

I’m here to support the cause. It isn’t right that the university victimized students who were engaged in peaceful protests and have done very little to the actual individuals who were assaulting them.

This is also tied to the conditions workers face at the university. We don’t make enough money to support ourselves and our families. A great deal of that has to do with the UC’s support of Israel, which is why we demand that they divest from funding a genocide.

She continued:

I’m very unhappy with the US government’s role in all of this. If it weren’t for US support, the genocide would have been stopped a long time ago.