Skip to content Skip to footer

International Scholars’ Statement on Gaza

Scholars blast Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

Part of the Series

On July 10th, Richard Silverstein, Joel Beinin, and I exchanged emails deploring the situation in Israel-Palestine, and began thinking about writing a public statement together. Composing amongst several people is always challenging, but even more so when the topic is as urgent and as complex as this one. This challenge was augmented by our varied perspectives on the issue, which, while not radically different, had certain nuances. Finally, we also wished to take into account the viewpoints and preferences of the people we approached and asked to sign on. What you have before you is the product of these deliberations and debates amongst ourselves and with several others.

We gained many signatures; we lost a few. Yet even those who decided not to sign showed the same resolve as the rest of us—there was no disagreement whatsoever in the belief that Israel’s attacks on the West Bank and Gaza are immoral, illegal, and reprehensible, and need to stop. Furthermore, we firmly believe that steps toward long-term restorative justice need to be taken, and that in order for that to be possible, the world community must weigh in.

With that in mind we published this statement in both English and Hebrew in Hareetz, a leading newspaper in Israel. We paid for that with contributions and would appreciate donations to help defray that cost. To support that ad, please visit the Tikun Olam blog to make a donation. We appreciate the opportunity afforded us by Truthout to publish it here.

– David Palumbo-Liu

Operation Protective Edge: Stop the Carnage!

We, the undersigned, are united in calling for an end to Israel’s obscene assault on Gaza.

Recently, three Israeli youth were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian militants in the West Bank. Shortly after, Israeli youth kidnapped and murdered a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem. While reputedly searching for the Israeli teenagers, the Israeli army invaded the West Bank, terrorizing the population, ransacking hundreds of homes, arresting 500 individuals, most of whom had nothing to do with the crime, and killing seven Palestinian civilians. Dozens more men, women and children were critically injured.

In response, Hamas and other Gaza militant groups launched volleys of rockets on Israel. As of this writing (7/17), one Israeli has died.

A few days ago, Israeli initiated Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. The air force has flown over a thousand sorties, bombing both military and civilians targets almost indiscriminately. It has bombed many private homes filled with Gaza civilians, while claiming it is destroying the homes of alleged Hamas leaders (even so, this is inexcusable, as it amounts to summary execution). At least three entire families have been killed by such attacks in separate incidents.

A ground invasion has begun and Israel has authorized 40,000 reservists to be called up for duty. Tanks encircle the enclave ready for action. Well over 200 Gazans have been killed, half of them women and children. According to a UN report, nearly 80% are civilians.

Even before this attack, Gaza was an open-air prison in which its 1.8-million residents were besieged by Israel and Egypt, allowing virtually nothing except essential items in through the borders. The siege of Gaza alone is a stark violation of international law. Operation Protective Edge, whose impact has fallen almost entirely on the civilian population, is an even more egregious violation.

Israel claims the rockets fired by Hamas are an unprovoked attack on Israel’s civilian population. This is not true. The missile assault was in direct response to Israel’s terrifying the entire population of the West Bank. Israel’s assault preceded the Gaza rockets.

Kidnapping and murder of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, terrorizing Palestinians in the West Bank, and firing missiles at civilian targets are all unacceptable. Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinian population and Hamas’s targeting of civilians constitute war crimes. Clearly, Israel’s actions, executed by the fourth most powerful army in the world, have been far more lethal than the Palestinian response. The massive air assault has been vastly disproportionate in nature and in effect.

This legal framework, however is inadequate to fully understand what is happening. All the events of the last month should be understood in the context of Israel’s 47-year long occupation of Palestinian territories and the daily subjugation and humiliation of an entire people, theft of their lands and water resources, destruction of their homes, and denial of their national right to self-determination. The deprivation of the rights of the Palestinian people has been an organic aspect of the Zionist project, which has been supported by the Western imperial powers since 1917.

91% of Israelis polled said they supported the government’s conduct in the war. But we know there are Israelis who either oppose it outright or have severe doubts about the wisdom of this policy. In coming days, as the war drags on with little to show but more killing, we hope more Israeli voices will be raised. We applaud those who stand up for human dignity and against their government’s war policy in the face of such suffering. We know how difficult this must be in the face of such unbridled patriotic fervor.

The U.S. and international community have stood by and watched while Gaza burns. In a public statement, the Obama administration denounced the firing of rockets at Israel but made no mention of the massive air assault on Gaza. This shows an appalling moral obtuseness. The only mildly critical statement toward Israel it could manage was to oppose a ground invasion. This weak, ineffectual response which will do nothing to stop the killing.

The current war and especially an escalating ground invasion must be resolutely opposed by the world community. If Israel proceeds with such an onslaught, sanctions should be threatened. The Security Council must take action to call the Gaza attack what it is: the wholesale slaughter of a civilian population.

There is an international consensus on the necessary first steps to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: a return to 1967 borders, Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two peoples, and the right of refugees expelled during the Nakba to return to Israel. Any efforts to conclude peace not based on these principles will fail the test of justice and will not be long-lived. The clash of armies and militant groups will never solve the conflict. A political solution is the only way. If the parties cannot agree to this themselves then the international community must step in to force a resolution.
Pursuit of military solutions renders the BDS movement an even more potent tool to hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights and international law. It stands for the above principles along with a call for Israel to be a state offering full, equal rights to its Palestinian citizens. This grassroots international movement is a worthy means of dramatizing opposition to Israel’s Occupation.


Neel Ahuja, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

Diana Allan, Cornell University, USA

Lori Allen, Cambridge University, UK

Houshang Ardavan, University of Cambridge, UK

Elisabeth Armstrong, Smith College, USA

Elsa Auerbach, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

Mohammed Bamyeh, University of Pittsburgh, Editor, International Sociology Reviews, USA

Rann Bar-On, Duke University, USA

Ramzy Baroud, Editor, Palestine Chronicle, USA

Joel Beinin, Stanford University, USA

Anat Biletzki, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Judith Blau, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, USA

Marilyn Booth, University of Edinburgh, UK

Ana Maria Candela, Binghamton University, USA

Juan Cole, University of Michigan, USA

Elliot Colla, Georgetown University, USA

Elyse Crystall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

Devon Curtis, University of Cambridge, UK

Guy Davidi, Filmmaker, Israel

Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University, USA

Arif Dirlik, Independent Scholar, USA

Marie Duboc, University of Tübingen, Germany

Lisa Duggan, New York University, President, American Studies Association USA

Ann El Khoury, Macquarie University, Australia

Richard Falk, Princeton University, USA

Ilana Feldman, George Washington University, USA

Gordon Fellman, Brandeis University, USA

Cynthia Franklin, University of Hawaii, USA

Shoshana Gabay, Journalist, Israel

Neve Gordon, Israel

Sherry Gorelick, Professor Emerita, Rutgers Universty, USA

Ilana Hairston, Tel Aviv Yaffo Academic College, Israel

Gerri Haynes, Palliative Care Physician, USA

Amy Kaplan, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Laleh Khalili, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), UK

Dina Khoury, George Washington University, USA

Sherryl Kleinman,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Laila Lalami, University of California, Riverside, USA

Mary N. Layoun,, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

Christopher J. Lee, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Joseph Levine, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA

David C Lloyd, University of California, Riverside, USA

Zachary Lockman, New York University, USA

Wahneema Lubiano, Duke University, USA

Alex S. Lubin, University of New Mexico, USA

Harry Mairson ,Brandeis University, USA

Rania Masri, University of Balamand, Lebanon

Fred Moten, University of California, Riverside, USA

Diane M. Nelson Duke University, USA

Hilton Obenzinger, Stanford University, USA

Nikitah Okembe-RA Imani, University of Nebraska-Omaha, USA

Gary Y. Okihiro, Columbia University, USA

Tema Okun, National Louis University, USA

Elin O’Hara Slavick, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA
Amy Abugo Ongiri, Lawrence University, USA

Adi Ophir, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Amir Orian, The Room Theatre, Israel

Ravi Palat, Binghamton University, USA

David Palumbo-Liu, Stanford University, USA

Ilan Pappe, Exeter University, UK

Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Hebrew University, Israel

Nicola Perugini, Brown University, USA

Gabriel Piterberg , University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Gareth Porter, Independent Journalist, USA

Vijay Prashad, Trinity College, USA

Haggai Ram, Israel

Tariq Ramadan, St Antony’s College, Oxford, UK

Bruce Robbins, Columbia University, USA

Shira Robinson, George Washington University, USA

William Robinson, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA

Catherine Rottenberg, Israel

Muhammad Sahimi, University of Southern California, USA

Steven Salaita, University of Oklahoma, USA

Malini Schueller, University of Florida, USA

Michael Schwalbe, North Carolina State University, USA

Mab Segrest, USA

Sherene Seikaly, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Stephen Sheehi, University of South Carolina, USA

Yaron Shemer, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA

Yehouda Shenhav, Tel Aviv University, Israel

Sarah Shields, University of North Carolina, USA

Avi Shlaim, St Antony’s College Oxford, UK

Magid Shihade, Birzeit University, Palestine

Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam blog, USA

Nikhil Singh, New York University, USA

Susan Slyomovics, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Adi Sorek, Writer and Editor, Israel

Rajini Srikanth, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA

Rebecca L. Stein, Duke University USA

Amy Wilkins,University of Colorado, USA

Niza Yanay, Ben Gurion University, Israel

Nadia Yaqub, University of North Carolina, USA

Max Weiss, Princeton University, USA

Andrew Zimmerman, George Washington University, USA

Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco, USA