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May 26, 2021 5:49 pm
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Over 120 Gender Studies Departments Sign Letter Calling on Feminists to ‘Join the Struggle for Palestinian Liberation’

avatar by Jordan Esrig

Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign. Photo: Alex Chis.

In a letter signed by at least 120 departments studying gender and sexuality from universities across the United States and Europe, the Palestinian Feminist Collective called on feminists to “join the struggle for Palestinian liberation” and condemned what it called the “indiscriminate bombing of Gaza.”

“As gender studies departments in the United States … We center global social justice in our intersectional teaching, scholarship, and organizing,” the May 17 letter read. “From Angela Davis we understand that justice is indivisible; we learn this lesson time and again from Black, Indigenous, Arab, and most crucially, Palestinian feminists, who know that ‘Palestine is a Feminist Issue.’”

The letter called for “the end of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine and for the Palestinian right to return to their homes,” and maintained that “as residents, educators, and feminists who are also against the settler colonialism of the US, we refuse to normalize or accept the United States’ financial, military, diplomatic and political role in Palestinian dispossession.”

“We do not subscribe to a ‘both sides’ rhetoric that erases the military, economic, media, and global power that Israel has over Palestine,” the letter continued. “This is not a ‘conflict’ that is too ‘controversial and complex’ to assess.”

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The letter’s signatories represent some of America’s most prestigious universities: departments at five of the eight Ivy League colleges have signed on, as well as those at Duke, Stanford, and the University of Chicago. Departments at numerous liberal arts colleges such as Colby, Pomona, Middlebury, and Williams Colleges also signed.

In response to the letter, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization told The Algemeiner, “Members of the academy ought to protect the integrity of their work by grounding their beliefs in research and open inquiry. This initiative doesn’t meet that standard. Academic leaders must reject the steady embrace of antisemitism in higher education and implement reforms that preserve intellectual honesty and truth above all else.” 

The Academic Engagement Network, an organization aimed at stopping efforts to delegitimize Israel on campus, also condemned the letter, saying that “It has come to our attention that a number of faculty members who work in the Gender Studies departments, programs and centers that are currently listed on the PFC statement do not support it and, indeed, were not made aware of it prior to their departments joining. By highlighting the program homepages, the PFC disingenuously insinuates a blanket endorsement of its statement by all faculty affiliated with the 112 listed US-based programs. This misleading pronouncement is a tactic of academic peer pressure.” 

The Palestine Feminist Collective did not respond to an Algemeiner request for comment. 

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