An open letter to The Tufts Daily, the Tufts Board of Trustees, President Sunil Kumar and the Tufts community:
We must first commend the statements of both Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine and the coalition of anonymous South Asian students and alumni in their willingness to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine in the face of backlash from a unified coalition of universities — including our own — the media and government perpetrators of genocide. These students have rightfully indicted Israel’s war of eradication on Palestine as well as the campaign being waged both locally and around the world, to silence those who stand against it.
We condemn in the strongest way possible Kumar’s disgraceful “personal note,” which he sent in an email to the Tufts community on Oct. 11. As already denounced by our peers, in this note Kumar uses abhorrent and racist “War on Terror” rhetoric that functions to dehumanize any attempt at Palestinian defense of their homeland as “pure barbarism” and justifies Israel’s ongoing slaughter of Palestinians. Kumar’s statement recalls Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s description of the Palestinian people as “human animals” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s since-deleted tweet, in which he presents Israel’s genocidal war on Palestine as one against the “children of darkness” furthering “the law of the jungle.”
Kumar’s response has arrived in the wake of ongoing university campaigns condemning those students calling for an end to the Israeli apartheid regime. In the last week, a truck on Harvard’s campus began displaying the names and faces of pro-Palestinian students, who have since faced death threats. Meanwhile, several U.S. CEOs and business leaders called for the public release of the names of Harvard students who had signed onto a statement made by the university’s undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, intending to bar future employment opportunities. This statement rightfully holds responsible the illegitimate Israeli state for all unfolding violence. A recent New York Times article has exposed the numerous Wall Street financiers and university donors who are pressuring elite universities like Harvard to denounce student criticism of Israel. This coordinated attack on free speech is even worse in Europe, where France and Germany have outright banned Palestinian solidarity protests.
The Tufts Daily has further perpetuated the dominant media’s crusade against student supporters of Palestinian liberation and demonstrated blatant and unquestioning acceptance of these narratives. The Daily’s coverage of Palestine, in an article released on Oct. 12 in its News section, amplifies Kumar’s “personal note” and exclusively features voices that condemn Tufts SJP, including those of Tufts administrators and the New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League, a Zionist entity directly invested in the maintenance of the imperial U.S.-Israeli relationship and criminal Israeli apartheid. The administrative statements featured in the Daily’s article echo all too similarly the Harvard administrative statements included in a Boston Herald article released just two days prior. The quote from the Anti-Defamation League appears in both publications.
Broad historical ignorance and the outright lies that are fed to us by dominant Western media about Palestine and the present conditions on its ground facilitate the repression of pro-Palestine voices here in the U.S. and beyond. For this reason, we must stand against these ahistorical narratives and critically examine the press.
For the past 75 years, the Palestinian people have faced violent, unending theft and destruction of their homeland amidst Zionist efforts toward Palestinian cultural and ethnic erasure. Israel remains largely dependent upon billions of dollars of annual aid from the U.S. government, which facilitates the brutal murder, imprisonment and surveillance of Palestinians.
For more than 15 years, Israel has entirely blockaded the Gaza Strip and retained control over more than two million Palestinians’ access to food, water and electricity. In both an obscene violation of human rights and an act of collective punishment, Israel has now completely cut off these resources. The decades of land dispossession, mass incarceration and blockade of basic human resources already meet the U.N.’s definition of genocidal acts. This proved true even before this week’s undeniable acceleration of the genocide of the Palestinian people, during which time the Israeli state called for the evacuation of more than one million people in Gaza who had nowhere else to go. To put into perspective the historical magnitude of the present loss, the Nakba of 1948 is, to this day, the largest Israeli massacre and expulsion of Palestinians, forced the removal of approximately 750,000 people. This number equates to roughly one-third of the current population of Gaza that faces total annihilation. It is clear that the Israeli state is attempting to carry out a second Nakba in Gaza.
We must also examine the historic and future geopolitical interests of Israel and the U.S. that contribute to all the unfolding violence. The U.S. as an imperial power seeks to protect its financial and political interests and influence globally. The U.S.’s billions of dollars of investments in the Israeli state strengthen Israel’s military hegemony in the Middle East as a means of protecting U.S. political dominance and economic investments in the region. This is especially important for the U.S. ruling class as they try to both resist emerging threats to U.S. interests posed by countries like Iran and out-compete the influence of other great powers like Russia and China. Given this relationship, is it any surprise that the U.S. government and its allies unconditionally back the genocide of Palestinians and the Israeli fascist state?
We must fight both the Israeli apartheid state and the global imperialist system, which through its ongoing exploitation of Palestine and other nations and peoples remains at the heart of this conflict. It is necessary to rally behind the national liberation of Palestine and fight for an end to all systems that necessitate this oppression. We therefore support the Palestinian mass-led overthrow of the colonial Zionist Israeli apartheid state. There can be no liberation if not carried out through the struggle of the oppressed masses, organized and politically conscious.
We further demand that President Kumar renounce his “personal note” in an address to the Tufts community and that Tufts divest entirely from Israeli industry and all U.S. and international agencies with either financial ties to or an interest in maintaining the Israeli state. Students at Tufts and at campuses across the nation must carry on the historic tradition of opposing U.S. imperialism. We encourage our peers to continue to fight for Palestinian liberation and take action against the imperialist system as a whole.