[The following statement was issued by the Birzeit University Union of Professors and Employees in response to the ongoing genocide of Gaza perpetrated by the state of Israel.]
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 lives. 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 does not need the pre-approval of static international law codes. The oppressed do not need to claim authority over their own oppression; the ongoing events of history – our history – are what allow 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 to our humanity as Palestinian 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 about 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) 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 of 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 continue 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 ongoing 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 since 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 aircraft 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 choose 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 – falls 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.
October 11, 2023
Birzeit University Union of Professors and Employees, Occupied Palestine