Manski discusses Palestine protests in Chile's El Mercurio

Manski discusses Palestine protests in Chile's El Mercurio

When Chile's national daily, El Mercurio, sought social movement scholars to help explain the wave of Palestine encampments and other protests sweeping U.S. colleges and universities, one of those they contacted was GM's Ben Manski, Assistant Professor of Sociology. His comments were featured in the paper's Saturday, May 4th edition.

Asked about the relation of these protests to the anti-war protests of the 1960s, Dr. Manski replied that, "This protest wave has much more in common with the student divestment campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s, wherein the same tactics of tent cities, non-violent direct action, and student plebiscites all featured in demanding divestment to support the freedom struggles in South Africa, Myanmar, East Timor, Tibet, Nigeria, Colombia, and El Salvador. The Israel-Palestine BDS campaign came directly on the heels of those efforts 20 years ago; it has been building ever since."

Indeed, Dr. Manski told the paper, student activism around Palestine is not new, for, "students have been in the lead in defending the human rights of Palestinians for decades. It would be difficult to name another sector of U.S. society that has played as significant a role as students in this respect. What is different now is that the level of mobilization has reached a point such that it can no longer be dismissed."

When asked about Israeli government claims that the protests are motivated by anti-Semitism rather than a concern for human rights, Dr. Manski replied that, "As someone with strong ties to Israeli civil society, as a Jew and a former resident of Jerusalem, I don't take anything that the current government says at face value. I think it's critical to the global movement for human rights and democracy to directly support those within Israel who are facing repression for speaking out."

Dr. Manski is a longtime scholar of social movements, politics, and democracy. He is an affiliate of the Center for Social Science Research's Movement Engaged Research Hub and the director of Next System Studies at Mason. He regularly teaches Sociology 307: Social Movements and Political Protest.