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University of Washington students form ‘United Front Liberation Zone,’ demand that UW divest from Boeing and Israel

To protest the University of Washington’s ties with Israel and Boeing, students from the university’s Progressive Student Union (PSU), led by Mathieu Chabaud, started an encampment on the quad that they’re calling the “United Front Liberation Zone.” On Monday, April 29, students began setting up tents, posting signs, and offering free access to food and water.

Idaya Gruenwald | The Seattle Collegian

The Collegian spoke with PSU’s Chabaud and Isaac, a media liaison for the United Front who preferred not to share his last name for safety concerns. Their demands include divesting from Israel materially and academically, cutting ties with Boeing, and ending repression of Palestinian students, workers, and faculty.

“We may be at UW,” said Chabaud, “but this is something that impacts all of Seattle, and all of the world.”

Idaya Gruenwald | The Seattle Collegian

“If you can come by for even just a few minutes to talk and show us support, we appreciate that greatly,” Chabaud added. “If you can’t, just talking to your co-workers and your classmates is more than enough.”

Idaya Gruenwald | The Seattle Collegian

So far through peaceful protest, students are calling on the university to meet their demands by divesting from Israel and Boeing, citing that Boeing has sold many weapons to the U.S. and Israel, including after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which killed 1200 Israeli soldiers and civilians and took around 200 hostages. According to local health officials in Gaza, as of April 28, more than 34,000 Palestinians have died in Israeli attacks, around two thirds of which are children and women.

Idaya Gruenwald | The Seattle Collegian

“This is one of the most important times to stand up for social justice,” Isaac said. “I really encourage anyone who is reading this to be willing to contribute in whatever way they can, whether that’s having conversations with your family, being committed to challenging traditional point of views, and learning new things”

According to Isaac, the encampment was specifically designed to make the university administration adhere to student demands.

“This is a protest organized by the UW United Front for Palestinian Liberation, which is a broad coalition of different student and community organizations, all united in the struggle for Palestinian equality, return, and liberation.”

Idaya Gruenwald | The Seattle Collegian

Isaac claimed that the University enables the genocide of Palestinians by “platforming Zionists,” by sponsoring study abroad programs, and by “refusing to protect the actual Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab students and community members here when they are fighting for pro-Palestinian rights.” 

Isaac also said that the University receives money from Boeing, a corporation that he called “a war profiteer,” and from Blackrock, “which is invested in a variety of Israeli weapon companies.” According to him, taking money from these corporations contributes to genocide. (South Africa has levied charges of genocide against Israel in the International Court of Justice, and the case is currently pending).

Idaya Gruenwald, Johnny Horton | The Seattle Collegian

The University taking their money is antithetical to the interests of the people of UW, Isaac claimed, and it puts war profiteering ahead of the school’s own students, staff, and teachers.

We asked him how he envisions a free Palestine. 

“That’s really connected to why we’ve chosen what our demands are,” he said. “We are really of the opinion that Palestinians must have the right to resist, return, and self-determination.”

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