Race Religion Research Scholars Statement in Solidarity with Palestinians and Student Encampment for Palestine

Race Religion Research Scholars Statement in Solidarity with Palestinians and Student Encampments for Palestine

As scholars researching structural exclusion related to race and religion in Europe, we are fully cognizant of the deep entanglement of religion and racism which is also manifest in the slow genocide of Palestinians and impossible to ignore in the current escalated genocide on Gaza. As Hannah Arendt warned us in 1951, the roots and responsibility for the Nakba, the killing, dispossession and violent expulsion of the remaining Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of their culture and their places of living, originate from European racism and colonization:   

After the war it turned out that the Jewish question, which was considered the only insoluble one, was indeed solved - namely, by means of a colonized and then conquered territory - but this solved neither the problem of the minorities nor the stateless. On the contrary, like virtually all other events of our century, the solution of the Jewish question merely produced a new category of refugees, the Arabs, thereby increasing the number of the stateless and rightless by another 700,000 to 800,000 people [Origins of Totalitarianism, 290]

The genocide today began with the Nakba in 1948. The Nakba happened because of the genocide of Jews and Roma and Sinti, among others, here in Europe. Antisemitism in Europe did not end after the Shoah. The solution to ‘the final’ solution was the creation of the State of Israel. Europe solved its “Jewish problem” via settler colonialism in Palestine which began in the late 19th century and was accelerated with the Nakba. It is for this reason that all those living in Europe are implicated subjects. Military violence, scholasticide, genocide, dehumanization and the funding networks supporting settler colonial violence are inherently social justice issues; they should be core concerns in our universities, where we have a responsibility to contribute to ending injustices. To date, Israel has bombed and destroyed all universities in Gaza, killing hundreds of deans and faculty, and depriving almost 90,000 students of their rights to an education. 

With this statement, we wish to express our deep respect for students’ refusal to be silent or complicit in the systematic destruction and total annihilation of education in Palestine, and to stand in solidarity with their peers across the nation and the world. We support the rights and moral commitment of students to protest Israeli-state violence against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, which includes the occupation and dispossession of land, as well as the debilitation, arrest, and genocide of Palestinian people, including but not limited to Palestinian academics and students. We affirm the free speech and academic freedom, right to protest, and assembly rights of all students, faculty, staff, and community members participating in the encampments across the Netherlands, in solidarity with campuses worldwide. We understand the current student encampment for Palestine within a longer global legacy of global student activism against colonialism, segregation, apartheid, and wars, and against colonial dispossession and genocide on unceded Indigenous lands. 

We support the encampment as well as the student calls to publicly condemn the genocide in Gaza and their call for all universities to divest from and boycott organisations complicit in Palestinian human rights abuses. The students’ demands are clear, focused, and consistent: they call for an end to the support for the Israeli settler-colonial project and divestment from corporations fueling Israel’s military activities. The demands of the students are:

We ask all our colleagues at universities in the Netherlands and globally to join student protestors of the encampment for Palestine in standing for the causes of justice and equality worldwide. We call on the university administrations to protect student rights to protest and peaceful assembly, and to accept the students’ demands in joining the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions as a growing number of institutions of higher learning have done in the Netherlands and across the world.