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The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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LTE: From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free

Content warning: This letter contains mentions of death and violence

To the Northwestern Community,

As a collective of student organizations, we represent students of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions and genders. As future doctors, journalists, actors, politicians, lawyers, engineers and professionals, we are obligated to protect and uplift every voice and to preserve their humanity and civil liberties.

In the past month, the world has watched the indiscriminate slaughter of over 11,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Between suffocating under the rubble of bombed civilian homes, starving to death due to the bombing of bakeries and fatal burns from white phosphorus bombs — all of which violate international law — one in 200 people in Gaza have been killed by these causes and more. At least 1.6 million people have been displaced, a number that is more devastating than the 1948 Nakba, or Catastrophe, which ethnically cleansed half of the native population.

While the death toll rises uncountably every day, the U.S. has made pro-Palestinian protesters the scapegoat rather than condemn — much less acknowledge — the war crimes committed by the Israeli government and military. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning activists as being antisemitic for criticizing the Israeli government. Brandeis University, Columbia University and George Washington University have already set a dangerous precedent, disbanding Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace chapters on their campuses, claiming that the organizations violated campus conduct rules.

And now, this mass hysteria and collective psychosis has reached our campus. In an email sent to the Northwestern community on Nov. 13, University President Michael Schill calls “on all members of our community to use our collective voices to emphatically reject statements or banners that significant parts of our community interpret as promoting murder and genocide. This includes flying flags associated with Hamas and banners with the slogan ‘From the River to the Sea.’”

Schill’s choice to platform fringe beliefs on the use of this statement and deny genocide in an attempt to mischaracterize the mission of activists on campus is intentionally irresponsible and incredibly dangerous. Indeed, we know there is a genocide happening, and it is happening to Palestinians by the Israeli apartheid government, as affirmed by Craig Mokhiber, former Director of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his resignation letter. Schill jeopardizes the safety and security of SJP’s presence on campus — the main voice actively combating Zionism — with his statement.

The deliberate silencing and censorship of pro-Palestinian activism is nothing but repressive and authoritarian. While the University claims to uphold a culture of “intellectual exchange and academic freedom,” the history of a double standard on free speech is deep. As much as it tries to appropriate the work of student activists, Northwestern was on the wrong side of history during the Black Civil Rights Movement, during Vietnam anti-war protests and during the anti-apartheid divestment movements for South Africa.

Further in the email, the University announced a task force aimed at “preventing antisemitism and hate” co-chaired by a professor who has published papers justifying the demolitions of homes in Palestine as an “effective counterterrorism tactic.” The creation of this committee is at the expense of Arabs and Muslims and callously ignores the systematic rise in Islamophobia and doxxing on campuses across the U.S.

Schill does not name “Islamophobia” or “racism” even once in his email. His repeated reluctance to outright condemn recorded instances of Islamophobia while explicitly condemning antisemitism is an indictment; he has chosen a side.

The destiny of all marginalized people — both in occupied Palestine and around the world — is intertwined. We believe in the liberation of all peoples from Chicago to Sudan to the Congo to Western Sahara to Palestine.

We stand in solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine as we understand that all liberation movements are intrinsically linked. As long as our University is silent on the systematic killing of journalists in Gaza, silent on the deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools, churches and mosques, it is incumbent on us, the voice and heartbeat of this campus, to let our community know that Northwestern doesn’t represent us or our values.

Palestine has always served as a litmus test of our collective imagination of what freedom could look like. When we say from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free, we imagine a world free of Islamophobia, antisemitism, anti-Blackness, militarism, occupation and apartheid.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

Until liberation,

B. Burlesque
Northwestern University Community for Human Rights
Pakistani Students’ Association
Northwestern College Feminists
President of Science Olympiad
The Impact Movement at Northwestern
Black Mentorship Program
Muslim Mental Health Initiative
BlackBoard Magazine
Northwestern Queer Journalists Association
Fossil Free Northwestern
Kaibigan (Philippine Students Association)
Eye to Eye Poetry Collective
nuAZN Magazine
Chinese Student Association
Northwestern Community Ensemble
Asian Pacific American Coalition
Northwestern Muslim-Cultural Student Association
Middle Eastern North African Student Association
Out Da Box
Vietnamese Student Association
Native American & Indigenous Student Alliance
Korean American Student Association
School of Education and Social Policy Critical Context Group
NU Thrift Store
Northwestern Black Formal
For Members Only
Project LETS @ NU
Al Bayan Magazine
Dale Duro Latin Dance Co.
Reform Caps
A&O Productions
The Jasmine Collective
Northwestern Physicians For Human Rights
Middle Eastern North African Medical Student Association
Vibrant Color Collective
Mariachi Northwestern
Rainbow Alliance
All Paws In
Feinberg Muslim Student Association
Captains of Northwestern Bhangra
Black Health and Wellness Collaborative
Colorstack @ NU
NUMB Clarinets Leadership
Lovers & Madmen
Ballet Folklórico Northwestern
Partners in Health Engage @ NU
Matriculate @ NU
African Students Association
Asian American Student Journalists
Imaginative Northwestern Kreatives (INK)
Minority Association of Premed Students
UNITY Charity Fashion Show
Womxn in Law
Ambedkar Du Bois Society
National Alzheimer’s Buddies: NU Chapter
Elevating Deaf Voices
Quest+ at Northwestern
Harakat Dabke Team
Sustained Dialogue
Rural and Small Towns NU

Editor’s Note: This letter may not represent the views of every individual registered member of each of the 65 named organizations.

If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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