As scholars, we affirm the Palestinian struggle as an indigenous liberation movement confronting a settler-colonial state. The pitched battle in Sheikh Jarrah is the most recent flashpoint in the ongoing Nakba that is the Palestinian condition. Israel has expanded and entrenched its settler sovereignty through warfare, expulsion, tenuous residency rights, and discriminatory planning policies. The ostensible peace process has perpetuated its land grabs and violent displacement under the fictions of temporality and military necessity. Together these policies constitute apartheid, bolstered by a brute force that enshrines territorial theft and the racial supremacy of Jewish-Zionist nationals. And now, as has been the case for over a century, Palestinians continue to resist their removal and erasure.
Palestinian resistance to this eliminatory violence in Sheikh Jarrah and the raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque have catalyzed protests across a violently separated landscape. Palestinians in Lydd, Nazareth, Acre, Haifa and elsewhere have raised Palestinian flags in mass protest affirming the national and singular character of the Palestinian people and their collective call for liberation. Israel is once again conducting a large-scale aerial bombing campaign against the fourteen-year besieged Gaza Strip, killing scores of Palestinians and making thousands more homeless.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Palestinian death is treated as a byproduct of Israeli vulnerability. The attempts to transform the conversation on Israeli state violence to a series of stale talking points about Hamas rockets reflect the thorough dehumanization of Palestinians and the abject disregard for Israeli military aggression. For decades, Palestinians have been subjects of academic research that scholars use to understand the functions of settler colonial state power. Yet in moments of crisis, we are humbly reminded that research and writing are not enough.
As Palestinian scholars write under the threat of settler colonial erasure and imposition of exile, it is understood that their ideas and experiences are inextricably bound to the intellectual project and tradition that is Palestinian studies. Living within a political context that challenges their very existence, it is imperative that we not enact their replacement and erasure within our own scholarship, as Palestinians are barred from the academy. Approaching Palestine as a field of knowledge, rather than a case study or site of theoretical extraction, demands engaging with the intellectual labor of its people as a genealogy of subjugated knowledge in praxis. Resisting their erasure from the historical record requires a citational practice that both names Palestinians as intellectual subjects and challenges the very intellectual discourse that relegates them to the margins.
We recognize our role and responsibility as scholars to theorize, read, and write on the very issues unfolding in Palestine and among all oppressed nations today. Scholarship without action normalizes the status quo and reinforces Israel’s impunity.
Scholarship must also be ethical by centering decolonization and raising the voices of Palestinian scholars, as well as other interlocutors, so that they remain sources of authority and not merely objects of study. We believe that the critical theory we generate in our literature and in our classrooms must be backed in deed. Therefore, we affirm that it is no longer acceptable to conduct research in Palestine or on Palestinians without a clear component of political commitment. It is no longer acceptable to study one fragment of Palestine, and claim knowledge of the whole. It is no longer acceptable to speak over Palestinians, or publish without citation of Palestinians scholars. Simply put, it is no longer acceptable to treat Palestine as a playground for intellectual curiosity while its fragmented nation continues to struggle for liberation.
Therefore, we affirm our commitment to the following actions, and we call on our colleagues to join us in our affirmation of the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people and foundational principles of academic integrity.
- In the classroom and on campus, we commit to
- Pressuring our academic institutions and organizations to respect the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel by instating measures that remove complicity and partnership with military, academic, and legal institutions involved in entrenching Israel’s policies.
- Supporting student activism on campus, including, but not limited to sponsoring joint events and holding our universities’ accountable for violations of academic freedom.
- Highlighting Palestinian scholarship on Palestine in syllabi, our writing, and through invitation of Palestinian scholars and community members to speak at departmental and university events.
- Extending the above approach to any and all indigenous scholars within the university, and any Indigenous communities within the vicinity.
- Centering Indigenous analyses in teaching and drawing links to intersectional oppression and transnational liberation movements.
- In our research, we will actively
- Include Palestine as a space and place worthy of substantive and historical integration into critical theory, not only as a case in a list of colonial examples.
- Work to engage methods which highlight and elevate the voices and experiences of the places and moments we study over our own positions.
- In places where we reside, we will
- Support community efforts and legislation to pressure our governments to end funding Israeli military aggression.
To sign and access the open letter and call to action, go to https://palestineandpraxis.weebly.com/