In light of the recent clampdown on university faculty, students and staff expressing solidarity with Palestinians, the Palestine Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urges faculty members to act by issuing statements through their unions, association, programs and departments that call for “urgent action to help prevent further bloodshed and destruction.”
Calls for priority urgent action:
- Immediate ceasefire
- Humanitarian aid into Gaza
- UN protection for Palestinians in Gaza
Additional calls for action:
- End complicity of university in Israel’s apartheid regime by, among other things, canceling all joint projects and activities with complicit Israeli universities.
We present here statements and calls to action by the following organizations:
- The Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada (ARC)
- The Palestinian-Canadian Academics and Artists Network (PCAAN)
- University of Toronto Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni
- Birzeit University Union of Professors and Employees, Occupied Palestine
- Tadamon! Montreal, QC
The Academic Alliance Against Antisemitism, Racism, Colonialism & Censorship in Canada (ARC) Call To Action & Emergency Statement on Academic Freedom and Critical Scholarship.
We are gravely concerned about the widespread suppression of critical speech and academic freedom on Israel and Palestine in the past week not only in Canada, but across much of the West. We are concerned that our university administrations are ill-equipped to address the pressures being placed on them by various third parties (including governments, the media, and organizations) to suppress academic freedom.
Universities must reject the censorship of critical and engaged scholarship on Israel and Palestine that effectively serve to undermine the anti-racist and decolonization efforts they claim to support.
We are calling on all faculty associations, contract faculty unions, as well as teaching and research assistant unions across the country to take a proactive stance and immediately pass our sample motion.
[Insert Name] unequivocally supports the academic freedom of its members. This freedom includes the right to pursue research and open inquiry in an honest search for knowledge that is free from institutional censorship, including that of the government.
[Insert Name] acknowledges that the freedom from political and institutional censure is especially critical at times of war and conflict where scholarly voices are an important corrective to widespread disinformation campaigns.
[Insert Name] supports the anti-racist and decolonial initiatives in Canadian educational institutions and opposes anti-Palestinian racism, antisemitism and Islamophobia along with all forms of racism and hatred. We will strive to ensure our members are free from experiencing bigotry and hate in our classrooms and campuses.
[Insert Name] We are committed to protecting the security and safety of all scholars who are targeted because of their scholarship and political work. We call upon our institutions to implement measures to safeguard our members.
[Insert Name] acknowledges that targeted attacks against scholars who support the Palestinian struggle have a chilling effect on the academic freedom of our members in the classroom, in their research, and in campus politics more broadly. These repressive tactics must be challenged, and scholars must be free from all forms of recrimination and harassment that may occur due to the nature of their research.
Please promote our materials widely.
PCAAN Statement on the Attack
Palestinians will not be erased.
The Palestinian Canadian Academics and Artists Network (PCAAN) is appalled at the wholesale erasure of the shock and grief experienced by the Palestinian Canadian community at this time. The inalienable need for liberation, the right of self-determination, and the inviolable belonging of the Palestinian people to the land, as inscribed and reinstated in countless UN resolutions, have been negated by the Canadian establishment. In the face of over 75 years of apartheid, 56 years of occupation, and a 17-year blockade, this is mind-blowing.
PCAAN condemns the failure and refusal of the Canadian government to comply with its obligations under Geneva IV: parties to this convention are obligated to protect occupied peoples and prohibited from transferring their own populations into occupied lands. They are not encouraged to hide their failures to comply using “unprovoked attack” narratives. Such narratives, provided without context, are also used as a pretext for the government’s refusal to act in accordance with its own stated foreign policy on illegal Israeli colonial occupation.
In its current applause and support for Israel’s alleged “right to defend itself,” Canada is enabling Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of hospitals, schools and universities, and the deprivation of 2.3 million people from food, water, fuel, and electricity. In the words of Francesca Albanese (UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967), supporting the intentional starvation of civilians when part of a widespread or systematic attack on a civilian population is extremely concerning because it amounts to the commission of war crimes and, potentially, a crime against humanity. Canada’s history of shielding Israel’s impunity includes refusing to acknowledge, following the findings of major international human rights organizations, that Israel is imposing a structure of apartheid on an indigenous population. Apartheid is a crime against humanity.
Repeating endlessly that such a state has a right to self-defense does not make that crime go away: it comes down to claiming that the state has a right to commit crime. Likewise, reiterating ad nauseam that Hamas is a terrorist organization does not make the root causes of violence go away: it comes down to claiming that Israel has the right to boundless state violence, to state terrorism, whereas Palestinians, as an occupied people are denied the right recognized in international law to armed resistance. The regurgitation of the terrorism trope obfuscates the history, depth, and incommensurability of Israeli atrocities: 75 years of massacres, torture, “bone breaking”, sniper mutilations, carpet bombing, white phosphorous bombing, the bulldozing of refugee camps, targeted assassinations, night raids, child arrests, collective punishment and home demolitions, toxic waste dumping in the occupied West Bank, calorie restriction in Gaza, poisoned wells, theft of water and land confiscation. As chapters of Israeli state formation, all of the above followed from the 1948 extinction of 500 towns and villages, and the dispersal or violent elimination of two thirds of the Palestinian people; the inaugural yet ongoing acts of Palestine’s Nakba.
The concomitant suppression and censorship of today’s protests, in line with Canada’s shameful condemnation of the non-violent Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, the labelling of the Palestinian flag as support for terrorism, the surge in harassment and defamation of Palestinian students and faculty on Canadian campuses, fueled by Canada’s disgraceful adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s weaponized definition of antisemitism, have fanned the flames of misinformation and encouraged the lies at the heart of the racial contract and colonial project of the Israeli state. Until this project of eliminating and replacing the native is stopped, and its effects recognized and rectified, we fear Israel’s genocidal intent will be realized.
The Palestinian Canadian Academics and Artists Network (PCAAN)
October 14, 2023
Statement in Response to University of Toronto VP-International’s “Message to the Community on the War in the Middle East”
October 13, 2023 12:00pm
To: President Meric Gertler, Vice-President Communications Christine Szustaczek, Vice-President International, Joseph Wong, Dr. Kelly Hannah-Moffat, and Dr. Alison Burgess:
As over two thousand members of the University of Toronto community, we write to express our shock and disappointment at the statement released by the University of Toronto’s Office of Vice President International on October 9, 2023. Our university speaks about the importance of inclusion, compassion, and care for all equity-deserving groups, yet the statement made no mention of attacks on Palestinian civilians, and also failed to acknowledge the context and impact of the ongoing occupation of Palestine.
We, as University of Toronto community members of all backgrounds, have three significant concerns about the University’s statement:
- This statement mentioned only the attacks on Israeli civilians. It did not acknowledge the latest militarised violence enacted upon Palestinian civilians, which at the time of the statement had already seen renewed bombarding of Gaza neighbourhoods, as well as the Israeli decision on October 8th to disconnect Gaza’s access to water, electricity, fuel, food and humanitarian aid. As of the writing of this letter, this assault has killed more than 1,800 Palestinians since October 7th, 2023 – at least 500 of whom are children. Many University of Toronto community members are from Palestine or have loved ones in Palestine. Some of these loved ones are now missing, injured, or dead. These members of our community need and deserve acknowledgment, concern, support, and care.
- The statement failed to acknowledge the brutal, untenable conditions that Israel has long imposed on Palestinians, which have been decried specifically as crimes of apartheid and oppression by major human rights authorities including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. The events of the past week are a direct result of these ongoing conditions, and by failing to provide this context, the University has contributed to the villainization of Palestinians – the impact of which is already being felt by our students, staff, faculty, and alumni.
- A statement on events in Israel-Palestine was only made when there was a mass attack on Israelis. However, Gaza has been subjected to a 17-year blockade, as well as multiple Israeli bombardments resulting in large numbers of civilian deaths:
- 2008 – 1,385 Palestinians killed, including 318 children
- 2012 – 168 Palestinians killed, including 33 children
- 2014 – 2,251 Palestinians killed, including over 1,500 children
- 2018 – 214 Palestinians killed, including 46 children
- 2021 – 230 Palestinians killed, including 67 childrenSource: Visualizing PalestineFurthermore, the ongoing Israeli occupation commits daily acts of violence against Palestinians, including the killing of civilians, infliction of life-altering injuries, sexual violence, house demolition, and arbitrary detention.These atrocities received no comparable statement of support from the President’s Office or International Office.
We, the undersigned, decry and mourn the loss of civilian lives, Palestinian and Israeli. We ask that Palestinians’ lives, traumas, and families be valued by the University of Toronto equally with Jewish people and other equity-deserving groups.
The University of Toronto has stated a commitment to the equity, diversity, and inclusion needs of all students, faculty, and staff. However, the exclusion of Palestinian community members from your statement has already resulted in:
- Palestinian students, staff, and faculty at U of T facing heightened anti-Palestinian racism in the form of threats, hostility from classmates, silencing, and suppression;
- Arab and/or Muslim U of T community members who are not Palestinian also becoming targets of anti-Palestinian racism, as anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia operate in tandem;
- Other U of T community members who support Palestinian human and civil rights feel scared, silenced, and alienated.
These issues have arisen not only from the University of Toronto’s most recent statement, but also from the University’s broader neglect and erasure of Palestinian community members as an equity-deserving group.
To address these serious issues, we, the undersigned members of your community, request that the University of Toronto:
- Release a statement explicitly acknowledging both recent and long-standing violence against Palestinians, and affirming their right to safety, dignity, and freedom.
- Publicly support and reaffirm the academic freedom of faculty who are vilified for speaking about Palestine based on their scholarly expertise.
- Support Palestinian community members as an equity-deserving group, including: outreach to Palestinian community members, inviting all community members to report incidents of islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism, and offering expanded mental and emotional health support to impacted Palestinian students.
- Commission a Presidential, Provostial, and Vice-Presidential Working Group to make recommendations to support the University’s response to anti-Palestinian racism, just as the University has commissioned working groups to address antisemitism, anti-Black racism, and anti-Asian racism.
We ask that the university uphold its integrity as Canada’s leading research institution, and its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, by providing a public response to this letter by Thursday, October 19, 2023.
You can add your name (and see the list of signers) here.
Birzeit University Union of Professors and Employees, Occupied Palestine
We are all Palestinians
2023 will be recorded historically as the year that Palestinians stood boldly in the face of colonial fascism and screamed in defense of their homes, humanity and life. Palestinians as a people have endured over a century of settler colonial violence. We have thrived as a people and shall continue to do so. We do not need to speak of our right to resist, for it is not a right, but a way of being and survival for Palestinians.
Zionism, the settler state and the entire colonial system that is a product of this fascist ideology can no longer falsely hide beneath the cloak of humanism. In Palestine, in 2023, we do not demand our right to narrate. Our ability to narrate was never out of our hands, and resistance in all of its manifestations and forms do not need the preapproval of static international law codes. The oppressed do not need to claim authority over their own oppression, the on-going events of history – our history – is what allows us this authority. We consider it our duty not to expose the bloody barbarism of zionism, their actions as a fascist state and a ruthless army are more than sufficient to undertake this task. It is our duty to record this moment not as its victims, but as the people who will remember, record, survive and resist it.
Our history will tell the story of these acts not only as a record of colonial brutality, but also as a record of our boldfaced determination to live and resist it. We remain attached to our land and in our humanity as Palestinians Arabs – no need to prove our humanity to those who have lost theirs.
It might, nevertheless, be useful to remind ourselves and others of the crimes that have been and are being committed in Palestine – crimes that began with the violent and forceful introduction of zionism onto the land and people of Palestine. This list is long and cannot be summarized in any simple form, but for those who have chosen to stand with the oppressed, in solidarity with our struggle, we ask that you keep these points in mind when speaking to the idea of freedom and liberation – heads and souls raised high, as always, by the duty we have towards the blood of our martyrs and the righteousness of our cause. In compiling this list, we realize that phrases like “war crimes,” “genocide,” “apartheid,” “criminality” and “inhumanity” seem unfit and atrociously insufficient to describe what the state of israel has and continues to do:
An occupying colonial power cannot claim the right to self-defense against the people under its brutal occupation. There is no moral equivalence between the colonizer and the colonized – however much the media attempts to claim otherwise;
As is their modus operandi, the israeli military in their war against Gaza has directly targeted our people through the belligerent bombing of homes, hospitals, orphanages, playgrounds, schools, universities, mosques, churches and public spaces deliberately killing any and all Palestinians they can, even targeting the dead in cemeteries. Cutting off and targeting water lines, electricity engines, emergency services, and other crucial services and civilian facilities are the actions of a genocidal power made even more audacious under the irony of zionist claims of their “purity of arms”: this purity clearly only refers to the notion that their weapons are ready for use against all Palestinians all the time;
The utter criminality of zionist media coverage (adopted globally) that persists in blaming the oppressed for the crimes of the oppressor. The great irony in the zionist claim of victimhood is revealed in the genocide being committed by its military fulfilling their aims at emptying Palestine of Palestinians. While always tragic, these crimes are part and parcel of zionism and not new, for even now, massacres and displacement of Palestinian refugees continues as the world stands by only to bear witness;
The blatant and boldfaced genocidal racism of israeli political discourse: the pornographic call to death of Arabs by settler zionist politicians across the political lines is fascism and cannot be described as anything but support for further genocidal violence and settler colonial fascism that has defined the history of this ideology;
The violent construction of the prison of Gaza is the criminal imposition of what is now a sixteen year sentence of solitary confinement for an entire population in the form of the blockade and siege of Gaza;
The criminalization of resistance including the self-criminalization of the right to resist where all blood that is shed is blamed on the oppressed and all crimes of settler colonial invasion and dispossession are ignored entirely;
The unfathomable crime of silence and complicity perpetuated by the entire world – including Arab and Muslim regimes under the oppressive power of American impositions — are openly supportive of genocide or mute witness to the crimes of settlers;
The most blatant american complicity in the genocidal massacre of an entire people. Zionist and american colonials with Arab regimes’ complicity have perpetuated crimes against the Palestinian people that define fascism in the 21st century
The on-going historic crime of the complete denial of the Palestinian nation’s political right to exist, resist, return, and self-determination;
We Palestinians have a right to our freedom. It is not a right enshrined in the precarious words of law codes, but our human dignity to fight for freedom. Palestinian resistance has been criminalized from the beginning of the settler colonial invasion of Palestine. Now that our resistance has used guerrilla war tactics, we have now become the oppressors?! What is the israeli army fighting to achieve? Unable to counter the resistance fighters, the aircrafts have bombed besieged Gaza targeting nothing and everything at once! Are they trying in vain to continue the genocidal war that began upon the arrival of zionists to our land? Trying to complete the erasure of 1948?
Given all we know and all we have seen, we must act and chose justice and humanity and fight the oppression of colonial degradation. We are all Palestinians now and we must all act immediately against the real criminals and scream in the face of this monster and his barbaric acts. Zionism is a genocidal settler project in Palestine that is built on false mythology and sustains itself on perpetual and endless violence against the native people in Palestine – it should be seen and dealt with as such. Talk of freedom – political, academic or social – fall on deaf ears unless or until the true criminals are called such and dealt with as such.
We in occupied Palestine — and all Palestinians — have no illusions in the poetic dreams of the triumph of the pen over the sword, because the sword has cut too deeply into our flesh at the hands of an enemy who has been granted by the hypocritical international community and the destiny of imperial history to claim a monopoly on both the sword (that which acts to kill) and the pen (that which narrates the acts of killing). As intellectuals and academics working in occupied Palestine, we have to use our words, however futile they may feel in such critical times. We also have faith in the bold souls of our people, our resistance and the triumph of freedom and in our inalienable rights. We recognize and proclaim that at this critical and urgent historical juncture, we shall overcome – justice shall overcome. We are not your passive victims, we have been murdered, maimed and displaced by a setter state driven by an ideology of insane hatred and bloody violence but we will not be silenced. Our resistance shows us the path forward and we remain steadfast and we shall triumph.
11 October 2023
Statement of Unwavering Support for Palestinian People / Déclaration de soutien indéfectible au peuple palestinien
En français ci-dessous
Statement of Unwavering Support for Palestinian People. Stand in solidarity with Palestine!
(Please Sign here)
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian people. We deplore in the strongest terms the willful neglect of context, the duplicity and the hypocrisy of the so-called ‘international community’ which has remained silent about the normalization of the occupation of Palestine – the longest military occupation in modern history. We deplore the daily violence, killings, imprisonment of thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children in Israeli jails, the house demolitions, the so-called ‘settlements’, the daily human indignities suffered by Palestinians, the deprivations of basic necessities of life because of blockades, the house raids at all hours of the day and night.
A basic tenet of international law is that people under occupation have a right to resist. And throughout these decades of colonization and occupation the Palestinian people have been heroically resisting in both quiet and spectacular ways. By simply living in historic Palestine, Palestinian people have been resisting and continue to resist. Those in the diaspora live the Israeli oppression by being prevented from exercising the right of return. From the standpoint of international law, Israel has been committing war crimes every day of the occupation: by being an occupier, by ‘collective punishment’, by aggression against people resisting occupation, by unlawful detention and imprisonment for years at a time, by denying access to basic necessities of life, by dehumanizing Palestinians.
We decry the governments of the world for their normalizing of the Israeli occupation; for labeling the resistance fighters ‘terrorists’. We demand honesty from them in calling out the actual perpetrators!
What Palestinians have demonstrated since the early hours of Saturday, 7th October was they will never accept occupation, that they will resist no matter the cost. Those in Israel and around the world who want peace must understand this.
We extend our unwavering support to the Palestinian people and grieve all the lives lost over the last few days and those lost over many decades of expulsion, colonization, occupation, apartheid and wide-spread oppression.
Israel’s on-going actions are war crimes. Article 8(2)(b)(xxv) of the 1998 statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) categorically states that “[i]intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival” is a war crime. Similarly UN Conventions, International Humanitarian Law, and the International Committee of the Red Cross all stipulate that deprivation of food, water and the essentials for life for civilian populations are prohibited.
Israel must cease the bombing of Gaza. Power and water must be restored. Food must be permitted to freely enter Gaza. Israel must end the blockade of Gaza and it must cover the costs of all the infrastructural damage and destruction it has caused. Of course it can never compensate for the loss of life, and the lasting trauma, especially on the children who have lived their young lives under continual siege and deprivation imposed on them by the state of Israel.
The international community must ensure that international laws and resolutions passed by the UN apply to Israel.
We support self-determination for Palestine and call on conscientious people to lend their unwavering support for the liberation of Palestinian people. Free Palestine!
Solidarité avec la Palestine ! Déclaration de soutien indéfectible au peuple palestinien
(SVP signez ici)
Nous, soussignés, sommes solidaires de la Palestine et du peuple palestinien. Nous déplorons avec force la négligence volontaire du contexte, la duplicité et l’hypocrisie de la soi-disant “communauté internationale” qui est restée silencieuse sur la normalisation de l’occupation de la Palestine – l’occupation militaire la plus longue de l’histoire moderne. Nous déplorons la violence quotidienne, les meurtres, l’emprisonnement de milliers d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants palestiniens dans les prisons israéliennes, les démolitions de maisons, les soi-disant “colonies”, les indignités humaines quotidiennes subies par les Palestiniens, les privations de produits de première nécessité en raison des blocus, les raids sur les maisons à toute heure du jour et de la nuit.
L’un des principes fondamentaux du droit international est que les peuples sous occupation ont le droit de résister. Et tout au long de ces décennies de colonisation et d’occupation, le peuple palestinien a résisté héroïquement, de manière discrète et spectaculaire. En vivant simplement dans la Palestine historique, le peuple palestinien a résisté et continue de résister. Les membres de la diaspora vivent l’oppression israélienne en étant empêchés d’exercer leur droit au retour. Du point de vue du droit international, Israël a commis des crimes de guerre chaque jour de l’occupation : en tant qu’occupant, par la “punition collective”, par l’agression contre les personnes qui résistent à l’occupation, par la détention illégale et l’emprisonnement pendant des années, en refusant l’accès aux nécessités de base de la vie, en déshumanisant les Palestiniens.
Nous reprochons aux gouvernements du monde entier de normaliser l’occupation israélienne et de qualifier les résistants de “terroristes”. Nous exigeons d’eux qu’ils fassent preuve d’honnêteté en désignant les véritables auteurs de ces actes !
Ce que les Palestiniens ont démontré depuis les premières heures du samedi 7 octobre, c’est qu’ils n’accepteront jamais l’occupation, qu’ils résisteront quel qu’en soit le prix. Ceux qui, en Israël et dans le monde, veulent la paix doivent le comprendre.
Nous apportons notre soutien indéfectible au peuple palestinien et pleurons toutes les vies perdues ces derniers jours et celles perdues au cours de nombreuses décennies d’expulsion, de colonisation, d’occupation, d’apartheid et d’oppression généralisée.
Les actions menées actuellement par Israël constituent des crimes de guerre. L’article 8(2)(b)(xxv) du statut de 1998 de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) stipule catégoriquement que “[l]e fait d’affamer intentionnellement des civils comme méthode de guerre en les privant d’objets indispensables à leur survie” est un crime de guerre. De même, les conventions des Nations unies, le droit international humanitaire et le Comité international de la Croix-Rouge stipulent tous que la privation de nourriture, d’eau et des éléments essentiels à la vie des populations civiles est interdite.
Israël doit cesser de bombarder Gaza. L’électricité et l’eau doivent être rétablies. La nourriture doit pouvoir entrer librement à Gaza. Israël doit mettre fin au blocus de Gaza et couvrir les coûts de tous les dommages et destructions d’infrastructures qu’il a causés. Bien entendu, il ne pourra jamais compenser les pertes en vies humaines et les traumatismes durables, en particulier pour les enfants qui ont vécu leur jeune âge sous le siège et les privations continuels imposés par l’État d’Israël.
La communauté internationale doit veiller à ce que les lois et résolutions internationales adoptées par les Nations unies s’appliquent à Israël.
Nous soutenons l’autodétermination de la Palestine et appelons les personnes consciencieuses à apporter leur soutien indéfectible à la libération du peuple palestinien. Libérez la Palestine !