Nearly 150 scholars in feminist, queer and trans studies are demanding an end to Israel’s genocide and occupation in Gaza as the Israeli military begins a ground operation in the area, intensifying its already horrific siege.
In an open letter with 147 signatures so far, the scholars say they oppose all uses of pinkwashing, or the coopting of the LGBTQ rights movement, as well as Israel’s cynical employment of feminist language to cover up or justify its military atrocities. The scholars affirm that they stand against the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine and say they refuse to stay silent, even as students in higher education, scholars, and other professionals are losing jobs and job opportunities due to their support of Palestine.
“We will not be silent when the bells of genocide ring. Silence is complicity,” the letter reads.
The letter has been signed by prominent figures like Angela Davis and Zillah Eisenstein, and the list of scholars signing on is still growing. It was put together by Tithi Bhattacharya, Marxist scholar and associate professor of history for Purdue University, along with two co-authors.
Bhattacharya said the letter writers felt obligated to initiate the letter effort after witnessing corporate media outlets’ complicity in Israel’s genocide of Palestinians — which most corporate outlets refuse to name as such.
“A group of feminist scholars came together in the aftermath of October 7. We all believed there are no excuses for war crimes, regardless of who commits them or against whom they are committed, and we wanted to call on scholars to be consistent in their politics and intellectual commitments, specifically anticolonial and anti-racist scholars,” Bhattacharya told Truthout.
She went on to say that, while she and fellow letter writers were heartened when some scholars signed on immediately, they were disappointed to see others hesitate or refuse.
“For this, I put the entire blame on the repressive atmosphere created by US politicians and University administrators. People are afraid to speak out because they know it could mean anything from receiving death threats, physical and verbal harassment, to job loss,” Bhattacharya said. “This is why a collective statement like this is important. We want to send a clear message that we stand in solidarity with every person who has marched, spoken out and organized for Palestinian freedom and equality.”
The letter is one of many efforts launched by Palestinian solidarity advocates in response to Israel’s relentless assault on Gaza and increased raids on the occupied West Bank. Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of U.S. cities like New York City and Chicago, as well as cities across the globe like London and Istanbul. Hundreds in the West Bank even gathered in Hebron to protest Israel’s violence in Gaza, facing widespread surveillance and repression from the Israeli army for their expression of solidarity.
The feminist scholars’ letter is printed below in full, as well as the names of the first 31 signatories. Bhattacharya said the creators of the letter are still working to gather signatures from additional scholars in feminist, queer and trans studies, who are invited to fill out this form to add their names.
Feminists For a Free Palestine. Stop the Genocide. End the Occupation.
As scholars in feminist, queer, and trans studies who are rooted in social justice praxis, we refuse to stay silent while a genocide is ongoing in Gaza and a brutal war is unleashed to ethnically cleanse Palestine once again. We affirm that:
• We are against colonialism and genocide, whenever and wherever it is practiced.
• We are against military occupation and ethnic cleansing, whenever and wherever it is practiced.
• We are for the liberation and self-determination of colonized people, without exception.
• We believe that colonized people have the right to choose their means of resistance, within the boundaries of international law, without exception.
• We stand against apartheid, without exception.
• We stand against war crimes, without exception.
• We refuse the racist weighting of human life, without exception. Humanity is not a hierarchy.
• We refuse racist, Islamophobic, antisemitic, sexist, casteist, and classist practices, discourse, and incitement to violence, without exception.
• We refuse the killing, maiming, kidnapping and imprisonment of children without exception, and we remember that half the population of the Gaza strip, which is effectively an open air prison, are children.
• We refuse the use of colonial feminism and pinkwashing to justify genocide, without exception.
• We refuse the use of greenwashing to cover up the destruction of land, trees, and water resources, without exception.
We will not be silent when the bells of genocide ring. Silence is complicity.
We refuse to participate in what Palestinian feminist scholars name, “Progressive Except for Palestine (PEP).” It is straightforward–not complicated–for anyone committed to feminist and queer studies to affix our names to the above statements. Intervening into corporatist, colonial, cis heteronormative and heterosexist, and racist structures within our universities and the world drives our academic field(s).
We will not stay silent while scholars and students who are speaking up and acting against this genocide are met with the profound, highly funded apparatus that represses, free speech and thought. Remaining silent amplifies the securitization and punishment of our Black, brown, Palestinian, Arab, Jewish or Muslim colleagues. We commit to standing up to the institutional denial of academic freedom on our campuses and any attempts to investigate, punish, or fire individuals enacting free speech rights.
We stand firm in our anticolonial and antiracist commitments, for we believe:
None of us are free until we are all free. Palestine is not an exception.
End the Siege. End the Occupation. Land Back.
Our feminism compels us to say: Free Palestine!
Tithi Bhattacharya, Houria Bouteldja, Karma Chavez, Maria Cotera, Angela Davis, Lisa Duggan, Zillah Eisenstein, Nada Elia, Noura Erakat, Sara Farris, Roderick Ferguson, Inderpal Grewal, Yasmin Gunaratnam, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Robin D.G. Kelley, Inderpal Grewal, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Maya Mikdashi, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Nadine Naber, Jasbir Puar, Barbara Ransby, Rahul Rao, Sherene Razzack, Beth Ritchie, Lynne Segal, Beverly-Guy Shuftal, Audra Simpson, Neferti X M Tadiar, Eve Tuck and Françoise Vergès.
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