Communist Party National Committee meeting to focus on Gaza ceasefire, convention prep
Members of the Communist Party USA march through the streets of Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Jan. 13, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. | Photo courtesy of CPUSA

NEW YORK—The urgent fight for a ceasefire in Gaza and mobilizing for the Communist Party’s 32nd Convention this summer—those are expected to be the focus of discussions this weekend when the CPUSA National Committee meets.

With 25,000 already dead in Palestine, the Netanyahu government shows no signs of letting up in its offensive. In Washington, the Biden administration, meanwhile, continues to provide the weapons and diplomatic backing Israel needs to carry on the genocidal war.

Speaking with People’s World from the party’s office in Manhattan, CPUSA National Co-Chair Joe Sims said, “The main task facing us now is to compel a ceasefire.”

Around the country, Communist Party clubs and individual members have been participating in efforts to organize anti-war demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine and pass ceasefire resolutions in local municipal councils and trade union locals.

Sims believes even more has to be done, though, and that’s why the struggle to win a ceasefire is at the top of the agenda. “This moment demands on-the-ground action from all of us,” he said.

Taryn Fivek, who is co-chair of the CPUSA’s Queens Club in New York, is looking forward to discussions at the session this weekend. “It’s always an honor to be invited to sit in on the National Committee’s deliberations,” Fivek said.

“The working class has a lot on the line in 2024, so formulating a tactical and political orientation at the beginning of the year will be useful for our on-the-ground work in Queens.”

Rossana Cambron and Joe Sims, co-chairs of the Communist Party USA, at the 31st National Convention in Chicago, June 23, 2019. | Al Neal / People’s World

Stepping up ceasefire fight

Detroit, D.C., Iowa City, New Jersey, and Queens, N.Y.—these are just a few of the places where CPUSA members have been involved in campaigns to bring city councils into the ceasefire movement. Everywhere, Communists are putting pressure on their Congressional officials to support Rep. Cori Bush’s H.Res. 786, and they’re organizing in their unions to get ceasefire statements on the agenda. Nationally, the party has been a visible presence in all the big marches on Washington in support of Gaza.

Now, CPUSA leaders from the various states will meet to share and compare notes on their experiences so far; they’ll discuss what has and has not worked to win support in the ceasefire struggle.

Henry Lowendorf is a CPUSA member in New Haven, Conn., and chair of the party’s Peace and Solidarity Commission. Speaking to People’s World ahead of this weekend’s meeting, he warned that the danger of a wider war is growing every day.

“While the U.S. government has dangerously expanded Israel’s war on the Palestinians to bombing Yemen, masses of people are painfully viewing ethnic cleansing and genocide in real time,” Lowendorf said.

But the upside is that, in response, people are “increasing pressure on the government to demand a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, freeing hostages there and political prisoners in Israel, and bringing an end to Israel’s brutal occupation.”

Lowendorf, who is also a founding member of New Haven’s Jewish Voice for Peace chapter and plays a leading role in the U.S. Peace Council, is encouraged by the pace at which the peace movement is developing in the U.S.

With public opinion globally and in the United States shifting in favor of a ceasefire, Lowendorf said the CPUSA is happy to see that the mass demonstrations “are being led by youth, echoing what took place six decades ago against the U.S. war in Vietnam.”

The Communist Party at every level is working to get more and more of its members plugged into the ceasefire effort and the fight to win “a just peace” in the Middle East, he said.

Delegates discuss a resolution on the floor of the 31st National Convention of the Communist Party in Chicago, 2019. The party’s 32nd Convention is scheduled for June 2024. | Al Neal / People’s World

32nd National Convention

The other big task for the National Committee members on Saturday will be to kick off preparations for the party’s 32nd Convention, for June in Chicago.

The convention will bring together hundreds of Communist delegates from clubs and districts across the U.S. to analyze the current crisis of capitalism, strategize around defeating the fascist danger in 2024 and beyond, and elect the party’s national leadership bodies.

“The convention is key to our party’s work,” CPUSA National Co-Chair Rossana Cambron told People’s World. “It is the time when we make an objective analysis of the terrain of struggle before us, pinpoint what are the key areas where can move the working class forward, and look for the ways we as a party can contribute to it.”

Speaking from Los Angeles, she said, “The upcoming National Committee meeting is a part of that process.”

Reiterating Cambron’s point, Sims said the National Committee has “two tasks” before it.

“First, it will set the stage for the pre-convention discussion. It will issue a draft discussion document that will frame our conversation on the key issues before us, most importantly defeating the fascist right and ending the war on Gaza.”

That draft document is now being circulated to members of the CPUSA National Committee and will be discussed in further detail at the weekend meeting. It sees the United States as being “in the midst of a deep systemic crisis, perhaps the most severe since the Civil War and the Great Depression.”

The draft discussion document is oriented toward not just the 2024 elections—which will likely see a Biden-Trump rematch—but also the wider struggle to save democracy from the fascist danger and the fights to protect and advance working-class gains made in recent years.

“The path ahead is fiercely contested,” the draft states. It asks: “Does the future lie with austerity politics or a new New Deal? Make America Great Again or a Third Reconstruction?”

Questions of strategy and tactics, preserving the popular front, how to take advantage of the “socialist moment” to nurture anti-capitalist sentiments, building the Communist Party, and many more will be among the topics the meeting will address as it lays the groundwork for the CPUSA convention.

A Feb. 4 town hall will officially launch the pre-convention discussion period, which is slated to run until the convention this summer. The draft discussion document being reviewed by the National Committee this weekend will be serialized in People’s World in the coming weeks.


C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.