[The following letter was sent to the leadership of the University of California by a group of Palestinian Faculty members across various campuses. The letter signatories are situated in 12 schools and departments at 7 campuses (full list below). Given the lack of response by UC leadership to the letter below, the escalation of genocidal violence in the besieged Gaza Strip, and the surge in anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim racist violence, repression, surveillance, and infringement on first amendment rights — the UC Palestinian Faculty Council calls upon all our colleagues at various UC’s to form Faculty for Justice in Palestine chapters and take immediate action to protect academic freedom, students’ rights, and the rights of Palestinians to dignity and freedom. Lastly, we call on our fellow faculty to ensure that anti-zionism - critique of state and ideology - is not equated with anti-semitism or punished and criminalized for such a false equation.]
Sent on 20 October 2023
Recipients: UC President Michael V. Drake, UC Office of the President (UCOP) Provost and Executive VP Katherine S. Newman, UCOP Vice Provost for Academic Personnel and Programs Douglas Haynes, UCOP Director of Executive Communications and Engagement Shelly Meron
We, the undersigned Palestinian faculty members from across the UC system, write to express our outrage at your systemwide communication on October 9, and your continuing silence on the ongoing catastrophe unfolding in and around the occupied Gaza Strip.
Your statement elides the Palestinian people and presents the Gaza Strip as though it were an island without history. It betrays a lack of interest in, and even a lack of a basic understanding of, the history of 75 years of Israeli colonial rule over Palestinians, the realities of life under 56 years of military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the devastating effects of 17 years of Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip. You could have consulted countless scholars of this history among the UC faculty. You chose not to do so. The end result is that your statement amounts to a callow taking of sides.
As we write, the entire population of the Gaza Strip—2.3 million people, half of them children—are trapped and besieged, cut off from all supplies of food, water, electricity, fuel, and medicine, and subjected to relentless and indiscriminate bombardment. Israeli bombers have to date killed four thousand people, including over one thousand children, and wiped out 47 entire multigenerational families. High explosives, phosphorous, and incendiary bombs are destroying crowded neighborhoods in one of the most densely populated places in the world. Whole urban districts are being demolished at a time. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the dead and injured and continue to run short of medical supplies and fuel for their emergency generators—and even these crowded hospitals have been bombed. Families are rationing dwindling supplies of food and water intake amid reports of dehydration and illness due to the lack of potable water. One million people have now been driven from their homes. Cabinet ministers and advisors to the Israeli state have referred to Palestinian civilians as “human animals” and have said that they intend to turn Gaza into “a place where no human being can exist.” Such proclamations constitute evidence of a terrifying prospect of genocide.
You were quick to denounce the killing of Israeli civilians in terms that your statement uses the strongest possible language to depict. Yet your office (and Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib) maintains a stony silence with regard to the extreme violence perpetrated by the Israeli state against Palestinian civilians for whose welfare that state is directly held accountable under international law as the Occupying Power.
The only possible conclusion to be drawn is that you do not attach the same value to Palestinian life as you do to Israeli life.
Your statement invites censorship, intimidation, and violence against anyone and everyone across the UC system who teaches and advocates for Palestinian liberation and equality, or even basic equality more broadly.
Anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim racism are rampant across UC campuses, creating an unsafe and hostile learning and working environment for members of these communities.
Already, Palestinian and allied students attending teach-ins or other events on various UC campuses have been attacked and subjected to verbal and physical violence. Students are reporting incidents of stalking, harassment, and threats of sexual assault and murder. As you may have heard, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death in Chicago as a direct result of the climate of anti-Palestinian racism and hostility spread across the country.
We are deeply concerned for the safety of students, staff, and faculty alike at all of our campuses. We call on you to condemn the kind of anti-Palestinian violence to which we have all been subjected. We call on you to affirm the equal value of all life in the context of the conflict in and around the occupied Palestinian territories.
across Schools and Departments of Asian American Studies, Chemistry, Communications, Critical Race & Ethnic Studies, Education, Engineering, English, History, Law, Literature, Medicine, and Rhetoric
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Hastings
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Francisco