Posts tagged with "israel-hamas"

Open Letter From Academics in Defense of Robust Debate on History and Gravity of Israel-Hamas War

An Open Letter from Columbia University and Barnard College Faculty in Defense of Robust Debate About the History and Meaning of the War in Israel/Gaza:

   The most recent devastating violence in Israel and Gaza that began on October 7, 2023 has had very disturbing reverberations on our campus – for all of us, students, faculty, staff, and the larger Columbia community.  We write now to express grave concerns about how some of our students are being viciously targeted with doxing, public shaming, surveillance by members of our community, including other students, and reprisals from employers.  These egregious forms of harassment and efforts to chill otherwise protected speech on campus are unacceptable, and we implore every person in the Columbia University community – faculty, administrators, students, alums, public safety – to do more to protect all of our students while preserving Columbia University as a beacon for “fostering critical thinking and opening minds to different points of view,” as President Shafik wrote to the community in her October 18th message about upholding our collective values.

                As scholars who are committed to robust inquiry about the most challenging matters of our time, we feel compelled to respond to those who label our students anti-Semitic if they express empathy for the lives and dignity of Palestinians, and/or if they signed on to a student-written statement that situated the military action begun on October 7th within the larger context of the occupation of Palestine by Israel.  We have read that statement carefully, and it is worth pointing out that the arguments it makes echo those made by both governmental and non-governmental agencies and institutions at the highest level for a number of years.  

                The student statement begins with language that should satisfy any measure of decency: “The loss of a human life is a deeply painful and heartbreaking experience for loved ones, regardless of one’s affiliation. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the individuals and communities at Columbia University affected by the tragic losses experienced by both Palestinians and Israelis.”  The statement then turns to the claim that peace and safety for all the peoples of Israel and Palestine will remain elusive unless and until the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory ends and accountability for that illegal occupation is achieved.  This is not a radical or essentially controversial position – indeed, it is the position taken by many committees of the United Nations, the UN General Assembly, and respected human rights organizations.  The statement also describes the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as a form of “apartheid”, and while this term is viewed as controversial in some quarters, major human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have concluded that the occupation of Palestine and the treatment of Palestinians within Israel amount to a form of apartheid, a crime against humanity with definitions provided in the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (“Apartheid Convention”) and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Indeed, Desmond Tutu, noted South African civil rights leader who was the first Black archbishop of Cape Town, concluded in 2014 that: “[Palestinians’] humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”  And President Jimmy Carter has expressed the view that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians “perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa.”

                In our view, the student statement aims to recontextualize the events of October 7, 2023, pointing out that military operations and state violence did not begin that day, but rather it represented a military response by a people who had endured crushing and unrelenting state violence from an occupying power over many years.  One could regard the events of October 7th as just one salvo in an ongoing war between an occupying state and the people it occupies, or as an occupied people exercising a right to resist violent and illegal occupation, something anticipated by international humanitarian law in the Second Geneva Protocol.  In either case armed resistance by an occupied people must conform to the laws of war, which include a prohibition against the intentional targeting of civilians.  The statement reflects and endorses this legal framework, including a condemnation of the killing of civilians.

                The statement concludes with a demand that Columbia University reverse a decision to create curricular and research programs in Israel, a demand also made by over 100 Columbia faculty last year, and that the university cease issuing statements that favor the suffering and death of Israelis or Jews over the suffering and death of Palestinians, and/or that fail to recognize how challenging this time has been for all students, not just some.

                It is worth noting that not all of us agree with every one of the claims made in the students’ statement, but we do agree that making such claims cannot and should not be considered anti-Semitic.  Their merits are being debated by governmental and non-governmental agencies at the highest level, and constitute a terrain of completely legitimate political and legal debate.

                We are appalled that trucks broadcasting students’ names and images are circling the campus, identifying them individually as “Columbia’s Leading Anti-Semites”, and that some students have had offers of employment withdrawn by employers that sought to punish them for signing the student statement, or for being merely affiliated with student groups associated with the statement. In the absence of university action, students and faculty have undertaken the burden of blocking the images and identifying information broadcast on the doxxing trucks. It is worth noting that most of the students targeted by this doxing campaign are Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, or South Asian.

                One of the core responsibilities of a world-class university is to interrogate the underlying facts of both settled propositions and those that are ardently disputed.  As faculty we are committed to the project of holding discomfort and working across difference with our students.  These core academic values and purposes are profoundly undermined when our students are vilified for voicing perspectives that, while legitimately debated in other institutional settings, expose them to severe forms of harassment and intimidation at Columbia.

                We ask Columbia University’s leadership, our faculty colleagues, Columbia alumni, potential employers of Columbia students, and all who share a commitment to the notion of a just society to join us in condemning, in the strongest of terms, the vicious targeting of our students with doxing, public shaming, surveillance by members of our community, including other students, and reprisals from employers.


Katherine Franke
James L. Dohr Professor of Law

Rashid Khalidi
Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies

Gray Tuttle
Luce Professor of Modern Tibet, EALAC, Columbia

Jack Halberstam
The David Feinson Professor of the Humanities, Columbia

James Schamus
Professor of Professional Practice, School of the Arts, Columbia

Alexander Alberro
Professor, Department of Art History, Barnard College

Premilla Nadasen
Ann Whitney Olin Professor of History, Barnard College

Ralph Ghoche
Assistant Professor, Architecture, Barnard College

Karen Seeley, Lecturer
Anthropology, Columbia

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
University Professor, Columbia

Mae Ngai
Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, Professor of History, Columbia

Michael Harris
Professor of Mathematics, Columbia

Marianne Hirsch
William Peterfield Tretn Professor Emerita, English and Comparative Literature, Institute for the Study of Sexuality and Gender, Columbia

Mahmood Mamdani
Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia

Neferti Tadiar
Professor, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College

Bruno Bosteels
Professor, Latin American and Iberian Cultures, Columbia

Nico Baumbach
Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, School of the Arts, Columbia

Susan Bernofsky
Professor of Writing, Columbia School of the Arts, Columbia

Victoria de Grazia
Moore Collegiate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Columbia

Shelly Silver
Professor, Visual Arts, School of the Arts, Columbia

Frank Guridy
Dr. Kenneth and Kareitha Forde Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Columbia

Zainab Bahrani
Edith Porada Professor Art History and Archaeology, Columbia

Susan S. Witte
Professor, School of Social Work, Columbia

Karen Van Dyck
Kimon A. Doukas Professor of Modern Greek Literature, Columbia

Najam Haider
Professor of Religion, Barnard College

Avinoam Shalem
Riggio Professor, Arts of Islam, Art History and Archaeology, Columbia

Christia Mercer
Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy, Columbia

Catherine Fennell
Associate Professor, Anthropology, Columbia

Kadambari Baxi
Professor of Professional Practice, Barnard + Columbia Architecture

Reinhold Martin
Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia

Sheldon Pollock
Raghunathan Professor Emeritus, Arts and Sciences, Columbia

Robert Gooding-Williams
M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies and Professor of Philosophy and of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Columbia

Partha Chatterjee
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and MESAAS, Columbia

Mana Kia
Associate Professor, MESAAS, Columbia

Katharina Pistor
Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law, Columbia Law School

Martha Howell
Miriam Champion Professor of History, Emerita, Columbia University Arts and Sciences

Elizabeth Hutchinson
Associate Professor of Art History, Barnard College

Madeleine Dobie
Professor of French & Comparative Literature, Columbia

Natasha Lightfoot
Associate Professor, History, Columbia

Brian Boyd
Senior Lecturer in Anthropology & Co-Director of the Center for Palestine Studies, Columbia

David Scott
Department of Anthropology, Columbia

Bette Gordon
Professor, School of the Arts/Film

Lila Abu-Lughod
Anthropology, Columbia

Yannik Thiem
Department of Religion, Columbia

Debbie Becher
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Barnard College

Nadia Abu El-Haj
Anthropology, Barnard College

Barbara J. Fields
William R. Shepherd Professor of History, Columbia

Shayoni Mitr
Senior Lecturer, Department of Theatre, Barnard College

Josh Whitford
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Columbia

Celia Naylor
Professor, Africana Studies and History Departments, Barnard College

Teresa Sharpe
Senior Lecturer, Sociology, Columbia

Gauri Viswanathan
Class of 1933 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia

Pablo Piccato
Professor of History, Columbia

Hannah Chazin
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Columbia

Nara Milanich
Professor, History, Barnard College

Manijeh Moradian
Assistant Professor, WGSS, Barnard College

Adam Reich
Associate Professor, Columbia Sociology

Gregory Mann
Professor, History, Columbia

Mary McLeod
Professor of Architecture, Columbia

Joseph Slaughter
Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature, Columbia

Jennifer Wenzel
Professor, English & Comparative Literature and MESAAS, Columbia

Lydia H. Liu
Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia

Hiba Bou Akar
Associate Professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia

Jean Howard
George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Emerita, Columbia

Sarah Haley
Associate Professor of Gender Studies and History, Columbia

Richard Peña
Professor of Film and Media Studies, Columbia

D. Max Moerman
Professor, Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College

Stathis Gourgouris
Professor of Classics, English, Comparative Literature & Society, Columbia

Bruce Robbins
English and Comparative Literature, Columbia

Anupama Rao
History, Barnard College

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Assistant Professor, Architecture, Barnard College

Jonathan Crary
Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Art History, Columbia

Rebecca Jordan-Young
Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College

Gregory M. Pflugfelder
Associate Professor of Japanese History, Columbia

Tey Meadow
Associate Professor of Sociology, Columbia

Seth J. Prins
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences

Elizabeth Bernstein
Professor and Chair, WGSS and Professor of Sociology, Barnard College

Wael Hallaq
Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia

Jo Ann Cavallo
Professor and Chair, Italian, Columbia

Zoë Crossland
Professor of Anthropology, Columbia

Paige West
Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University

Gregory Mann
Professor, History, Columbia

Paul Chamberlin
Associate Professor, History, Columbia

Joseph Albernaz
Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia

Lien-Hang Nguyen
Dorothy Borg Associate Professor, History, Columbia

Marisa Solomon
Assistant Professor, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College

Bernard E. Harcourt
Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor,  Columbia Law School

Vanessa Agard-Jones
Anthropology, Columbia University

Nina Berman
Professor, Columbia Journalism School

Brent Hayes Edwards
Peng Family Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia

Jafari Sinclaire Allen
Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Columbia

Hamid Dabashi
Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia

Adam Tooze
Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History, Columbia

Alberto Medina
Professor, LAIC, Columbia

Emanuel Admassu
Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia

Glenn Mitoma
Lecturer in the Discipline, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia

Louisa Gilbert
Professor School of Social Work, Columbia

Wayne Proudfoot
Professor Emeritus, Religion, Columbia

David Rosner
Co-Director, Center for the History & Ethics of Public Health, Columbia

Elizabeth A. Povinelli
Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology & Gender Studies, Columbia

Ashraf Ahmed
Associate Professor, Columbia Law School

Jackie Dugard
Senior Lecturer, ISHR, Columbia        

Amelia Herbert
Assistant Professor, Education and Urban Studies, Barnard College        

Patricia Dailey
Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia

Alex Watson
Lecturer, Barnard College

Mabel O. Wilson
Architecture, GSAPP and Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Columbia        

Tom Slater
Professor of Urban Planning, Columbia                

Kim Phillips-Fein
Professor of History, Columbia

Joseph A. Howley
Associate Professor of Classics and Paul Brooke Program Chair for Literature Humanities, Columbia                

Walter Frisch
Gumm/von Tilzer Professor of Music, Columbia                

James Yeh
Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of the Arts, Columbia

Marc Van De Mieroop
Miriam Champion Professor of History, Columbia University Arts and Sciences    

Timothy Mitchell
Professor, MESAAS, Columbia  

Bahia Munem
Lecturer Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER)            

Camille Robcis
Professor of French & History, Columbia

Tom Kalin
Professor of Professional Practice, Film Program, Columbia    

Hugo Sarmiento
Assistant Professor, Urban Planning GSAPP, Columbia

Claudio Lomnitz
Professor of Anthropology, Columbia

Nina Berman
Professor, Columbia Journalism School            

Thea Renda Abu El-Haj
Professor of Education, Barnard College    

Harold Stolper
Lecturer, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia    

J. Blake Turner, Ph.D.
Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia        

Helen Benedict
Professor, Columbia Journalism School           

Samuel Kelton Roberts
History, Sociomedical Sciences, & AAADS, Columbia        

Ayten Gundogdu
Associate Professor of Political Science, Barnard College        

Asim Ansari
Professor, Columbia Business School    

Katryn Evinson, Ph.D.
Core Lecturer, Columbia

Nina Alvarez
Assistant Professor, Columbia Journalism School    

Frederik Denef
Professor of Physics, Columbia        

Kamel Jedidi
Professor of Business, Columbia Business School

Daniel Malinsky, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia

Sharon Schwartz
Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia

Joseph Massad
Professor, MESAAS, Columbia

A. Kayum Ahmed
Assistant Professor, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Marwa Elshakry
History, Columbia

Marcus Folch
Associate Professor of Classics, Columbia

Victoria Frye
Professor, School of Social Work, Columbia

Kristele Younes
Lecturer in Humanitarian Policy and Practice, Columbia

Joanne Bauer
Adjunct Professor, SIPA, Columbia

Daniel Naujoks
Lecturer in International and Public Affairs, Director, International Organization and UN Studies, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia

Aftab Ahmad
Senior Lecturer, Hindi-Urdu, MESAAS, Columbia

Nora Gross
Assistant Professor of Education, Barnard College            

Prantik Saha, MD MPH
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Christine Marrewa
Lecturer in South Asian Studies, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia

Sabrina Hermosilla
Assistant Professor, Heilbrunn Department on Population and Family Health, Columbia

Jeffrey Fagan
Isidor & Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Columbia          

Ross Hamilton
Professor of English, Barnard College            

Ateya Khorakiwala
Assistant Professor GSAPP Columbia            

Homa Zarghamee
Associate Professor and Chair of Economics, Barnard College            

Duygu Ula Lecturer
Barnard College            

Tim Wyman-McCarthy
Associate in the Discipline, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia            

Meredith Benjamin
Lecturer, Barnard College            

Cecelia Lie-Spahn
Associate Director of First-Year Writing and Lecturer in English, Barnard College            

Laura Perez
Adjunct Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia            

Joey De Jesus
Associate of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia; Adjunct Lecturer, Barnard College          

Daniel Alarcón
Assistant Professor, Columbia Journalism School            

Zeynep Celik
Sakip Sabanci Visiting Professor, History            

Kim F. Hall
Lucyle Hook Professor of English and Professor of Africana Studies, Barnard College            

Elizabeth Leake
Professor, Italian, Columbia            

Courtney Cogburn
Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Columbia            

Tim Wyman-McCarthy
Associate in the Discipline, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia            

Ruth Mukwana
Adjunct Professor, Columbia            

Chazelle Rhoden
Anthropology, Columbia            

Audra Simpson
Professor, Department of Anthropology, Columbia        

Kendall Thomas
Nash Professor of Law, Columbia        

Thanassis Cambanis
Adjunct Professor, Columbia SIPA            

Abigail Greenleaf
Assistant Professor, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia

Jon Kessler
Professor of Visual Arts, Columbia

Michael Wessells
Professor Emeritus, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia

Jhumpa Lahiri
Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English, Director, Creative Writing Program, Affiliated Faculty, Department of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies and Program in Italian, Senior Fellow, The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, Columbia University

Isabel Huacuja Alonso
Assistant Professor, Department  of Middle Eastern, South Asian & African Studies, Columbia

Laila AbdelSalam
Instructor of Medical Psychology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Natalie Adler, Lecturer
University Writing Program, Columbia    

Betsy Apple
Adjunct Professor, International Human Rights Law, SIPA, Columbia

Illan Gonen
Lecturer, MESAAS, Columbia    

June Cross
Fred W. Friendly Professor of Media and Society, Columbia Journalism School    

Brittany Koffer
Core Lecturer, Philosophy Department, Columbia    

Nina Sharma
Adjunct Associate Professor, Barnard College English;  Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia UG writing    

Isabel Ortiz
Consultant, Writing Center, Columbia        


Freedom of Speech, Until Facts Hurt Feelings

“Facts don’t care about your feelings,” said Ben Shapiro famously in a staunch defense of his position on gender identity. Today, however, Shapiro is flipping the script to suit his own religious and cultural ideologies by demanding the heads of anyone who dares to disagree with him on the right of Israel to genocide the Palestinian people. This is a problem.

This unwise move to censure speech and freedom of expression is no different than the 2005 incident when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of derogatory cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that set off a global battle over the relationship between free speech and religion. In defiance, some newspapers across Europe and the Middle East reprinted the cartoons to reaffirm the right to publish offensive material, even as violent protests erupted across the globe.

Human rights lawyer and author,  Jacob Mchangama said this about freedom of speech: “Elite panic is this recurring phenomenon throughout the history of free speech, where whenever the public sphere is expanded, either through new communications technology, or to segments of the population that were previously marginalized, the traditional gatekeepers, the elites who control access to information, tend to fret about the dangers of allowing the unwashed mob—who are too fickle, too unsophisticated, too unlearned—unmediated access to information. They need information to be filtered through the responsible gatekeepers and it may be even more dangerous to allow them to speak without adult supervision. That’s a phenomenon that we see again and again. And we’re seeing it play out now on social media. … [Elite panic is] one contributing factor to the free speech recession. Another is that democracies have shied away from protecting free speech and are much more likely now to view free speech as a danger rather than an unmitigated good. And so they don’t put in the same effort at protecting free speech, whether at home or away as they did, say, in the 80s, early 90s, when free speech was crucial to defeating communism.

When asked if he was an advocate for absolute speech, Mchangama answered, “No, I don’t think that any serious person is in favor of absolute free speech. Where I may be more absolutist is when it comes to viewpoints. I don’t believe there’s any viewpoint in and of itself that should be prohibited.”

The right to your thoughts and to speak them freely is legally protected under the first amendment. So why is it under attack when it comes to condemning Israel and the callous genocide being committed in Gaza? Since the start of yet another conflict between Israel and Hamas on October 7, Israel has embarked on a vicious and collective punishment campaign in response to Hamas’ attack that fateful day. Dialogue on all major news sites can’t even begin without securing condemnation of Hamas and the October 7 attack. Also, any mention of context or the historical significance of the conflict between Israel and Palestine is condescendingly dismissed, derided as inconsequential or irrelevant, to uphold the propaganda machine’s marching orders in favor of Israel.

Must the whole world be wrong to make Israel right? Apparently so, and it’s evident with the retribution being exacted by large donors, congressional hearings to take to task university professors who dare to allow free speech on campuses, public shaming with forced apologies for risk of losing funding, and blatant threats launched by Wall Street CEOs with a stake in camp Israel. This is unprecedented and a dangerous slippery slope that is leading to loss of liberty. If there actually is a separation of church and state, why are Zionist Jews using our government to carry out their holy war against the people of Palestine? Are Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists next in line to use Congress against their enemies? The end game of this blind obsession to support Israel regardless of its crimes against humanity, regardless of the millions of Jews around the world denouncing the genocide in Gaza, regardless of the United Nations’ own call for an immediate ceasefire—in a nuclear weapon powered world—spells the writing clear on the wall. And tragically, the entire world will pay the heavy price to come. Because when elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.



November 9, 2023

Israel’s devastating bombing campaign and media blockade in Gaza threatens newsgathering in an unprecedented fashion. We are running out of time.

More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four-week siege. Included in the mounting death toll are at least 36 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in what the group calls the deadliest conflict for journalists since it began tracking deaths in 1992. Scores more have been injured, detained, gone missing or seen their family members killed.  As reporters, editors, photographers, producers, and other workers in newsrooms around the world, we are appalled at the slaughter of our colleagues and their families by the Israeli military and government.

We are writing to urge an end to violence against journalists in Gaza and to call on Western newsroom leaders to be clear-eyed in coverage of Israel’s repeated atrocities against Palestinians. Reporters in the besieged Gaza Strip are contending with extensive power outages, food and water shortages and a breakdown of the medical system. They have been killed while visibly working as press, as well as at night in their homes. An investigation from Reporters Without Borders also shows deliberate targeting of journalists during two Oct. 13 Israeli strikes in South Lebanon, which killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and injured six other journalists.

Reporters’ families have been killed, too. Wael Dahdouh, Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief and a household name in the Arab world, learned on-air Oct. 25 that his wife, children, and other relatives had been killed in an Israeli airstrike. A Nov. 5 strike on the home of journalist Mohammad Abu Hassir of Wafa News Agency killed him and 42 family members. Israel has blocked foreign press entry, heavily restricted telecommunications and bombed press offices. Some 50 media headquarters in Gaza have been hit in the past month. Israeli forces explicitly warned newsrooms they “cannot guarantee” the safety of their employees from airstrikes. Taken with a decades-long pattern of lethally targeting journalists, Israel’s actions show wide scale suppression of speech.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate has urged Western journalists to publicly condemn the targeting of journalists. “[We] call on our fellow journalists around the world to take action to stop the horrifying bombardment of our people in Gaza,” the group said on Oct. 31 in a published statement.

We are heeding that call. 

We stand with our colleagues in Gaza and herald their brave efforts at reporting in the midst of carnage and destruction. Without them, many of the horrors on the ground would remain invisible.  We join press associations including Reporters Without Borders, the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association and the International Federation of Journalists in demanding an explicit commitment from Israel to end the violence against journalists and other civilians. Western newsrooms benefit tremendously from the work of Gazan journalists and must take immediate steps to call for their protection.

We also hold Western newsrooms accountable for dehumanizing rhetoric that has served to justify ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Double-standards, inaccuracies and fallacies abound in American publications and have been well-documented. More than 500 journalists signed an open letter in 2021 outlining concerns that U.S. media outlets ignore Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Yet the call for fair coverage has gone unanswered. Newsrooms have instead undermined Palestinian, Arab and Muslim perspectives, dismissing them as unreliable and have invoked inflammatory language that reinforces Islamophobic and racist tropes. They have printed misinformation spread by Israeli officials and failed to scrutinize indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza — committed with the support of the U.S. government.

Since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, in which more than 1,200 Israelis, including four journalists, were killed and some 240 others captured, these issues have compounded. News coverage has positioned the attack as the starting point of the conflict without offering necessary historical context — that Gaza is a de facto prison of refugees from historic Palestine, that Israel’s occupation is illegal under international law, and that Palestinians are bombarded and massacred regularly by the Israeli government.

U.N. experts have warned they are “convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide,” yet Western outlets remain hesitant to quote genocide experts and accurately describe the existential threat unfolding in Gaza.

This is our job: to hold power to account. Otherwise we risk becoming accessories to genocide.

We are renewing the call for journalists to tell the full truth without fear or favor. To use precise terms that are well-defined by international human rights organizations, including “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide.” To recognize that contorting our words to hide evidence of war crimes or Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is journalistic malpractice and an abdication of moral clarity.

The urgency of this moment cannot be overstated. It is imperative that we change course.


Writers of the letter are a group of U.S.-based reporters at both local and national newsrooms. Some members of the group were also involved in a 2021 open letter outlining concerns with U.S. media coverage of Palestine.

Editor’s Note: Writers Against The War on Gaza issued a statement of solidarity on October 26, 2023: Writers Against the War on Gaza (WAWOG) is an ad hoc coalition committed to solidarity and the horizon of liberation for the Palestinian people. Drawing together writers, editors, and other culture workers, WAWOG hopes to provide ongoing infrastructure for cultural organizing in response to the war. This project is modeled on American Writers Against the Vietnam War, an organization founded in 1965.

Message from Israeli journalist:


‘No Ceasefire, No Votes’: Pro-Palestinian Protesters March For End To War In Gaza

Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in the thousands chanting, “Genocide Joe, No Ceasefire, No Vote, and Biden, Biden you cannot hide, you signed up for genocide,” in Washington on Saturday. The large protest is a continuation of global protests in response to the disproportionate bombardment of Gaza following the October 7th Hamas attack against Israel. Demonstrators are calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as Israel rages on despite international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, in its military response leaving thousands of civilians dead, including nearly 5-thousand children. Organizers led by The People’s Forum plan future protests, according to the fiery speeches delivered at the event. The group also announced they plan to be at both the Democratic and Republican Conventions, as the 2024 presidential election heats up. 

Why are we marching?

Now is the time to stand with the besieged people of Palestine! Gaza is being bombed by the hour. Its people are denied  food, water and electricity by Israel. Tens of thousands more people are likely to die. We must ACT! People are in the streets everyday in their local cities and towns. Now we must UNITE! Join the tens of thousands people, from every corner of the United States, who are converging for a truly massive National March on Washington D.C. on Saturday, November 4.

Israel, with the full backing of the U.S. government, is carrying out an unprecedented massacre in Gaza. Thousands of Palestinians are being killed with bombs, bullets and missiles paid for by U.S. tax dollars. This is the latest bloody chapter in the colonial project of Israel, founded with the objective of dispossessing Palestinians from their land.” – The People’s Forum


Open letter to President Biden: we call for a ceasefire now

, Ben Lerner,  and others

We are a group of Jewish American writers, artists and academics. We oppose what the Israeli government is doing with US assistance

President Joe Biden:

We are a group of Jewish American writers, artists and academics. Being Jewish means different things to all of us, but we all have at least one Jewish parent, which means we could move to Israel and qualify for Israeli citizenship.

We condemn attacks on Israeli and Palestinian civilians. We believe it is possible and in fact necessary to condemn Hamas’ actions and acknowledge the historical and ongoing oppression of the Palestinians. We believe it is possible and necessary to condemn Hamas’ attack and take a stand against the collective punishment of Gazans that is unfolding and accelerating as we write.

Cutting off resources to more than 2 million people, demanding families flee their homes in the north, indiscriminately bombing a trapped population – these are war crimes and indefensible actions. And yet the United States government is offering “moral” and material support for the dehumanization and murder of innocent Gazans. We write to publicly declare our opposition to what the Israeli government is doing with American assistance. We call on the US government to seek an immediate ceasefire and to use our resources towards providing aid ensuring the safe return of hostages and building a diplomatic path towards peace.

As Jews, as Americans, we will be made to feel a sense of safety in our communities, and in the world, not by unequivocal US support for Israel, but by our government’s insistence on the universal human rights that so many of us take for granted.

Timo Andres

Annie Baker

Timo Andres

Annie Baker

Susan Bernofsky

Judith Butler

Michael Chabon

Deborah Eisenberg

Madeleine George

Masha Gessen

Francisco Goldman

Andre Gregory

Nan Goldin

Alena Graedon

Amy Herzog

Marianne Hirsch

Gabriel Kahane

Cindy Klein

David Klion

Lisa Kron

Rachel Kushner

Tony Kushner

Ben Lerner

Jonathan Lethem

Sam Lipsyte

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Escalation in Israel-Hamas Conflict: October 7, 2023

The ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict has once again escalated, leaving countless civilians dead and the international community deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis. On October 7, 2023, the region witnessed a surprise attack by Hamas, a militant Islamic resistance movement, that caused a significant spike in violence, marking a disturbing chapter in this long-standing conflict. This article provides an overview of the events that transpired on that fateful day and the broader implications of this intensifying confrontation. The Israel-Hamas conflict is a protracted struggle that dates back several decades. Rooted in historical, territorial, and religious tensions, it has resulted in numerous clashes, wars, and ceasefires, all of which have left a lasting impact on the people living in the region.

October 7, 2023 – A Day of Escalation

On October 7, 2023, violence in the region escalated significantly. The day began with a series of rocket attacks launched by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. These rockets targeted civilian areas, posing a severe threat to the lives and security of Israeli citizens. In response, Israel initiated a swift and powerful counterattack, with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launching airstrikes on multiple Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip. The IDF’s disproportionate response was immediate, as they aimed to destroy the resistance groups’ infrastructure and minimize their ability to launch further attacks. As the day progressed, reports of casualties on both sides began to emerge. The situation rapidly deteriorated, and it became clear that this was one of the most serious escalations in violence seen in recent years. Making matters worse, is the western media and government’s response to the crisis in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself, inspite of the inhumane and unjust occupation of the region after WWII that led to the creation of the Jewish state.

“Palestinian territory – encompassing the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem – has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Since then, the Israeli government has established a two-tiered legal and political system that provides comprehensive rights for Jewish Israeli settlers while imposing military rule and control on Palestinians without any basic protections or rights under international law. The Israeli government has also engaged in a regular practice of inhumane acts, as well as extrajudicial killings, torture, denial of fundamental human rights, arbitrary detention and collective punishment. The UN Human Rights Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including East Jerusalem, and Israel concluded in June 2022 that continued occupation, as well as discrimination against Palestinians, are the key causes of recurrent instability and protraction of conflict in the region.” – R2P

An Israeli soldier patrol a street of Gaza on October 21, 1973, during the 1973 ArabñIsraeli War. On October 6, 1973, on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, an Arab military coalition led by Egypt and Syria launched a simultaneous surprise attack in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 ArabñIsraeli War. This war provoked the oil shock of 1973 and led to the opening of peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt, concluded by the Camp David agreement in 1978. (Photo by Gabriel DUVAL / AFP) Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, an Arab military coalition led by Egypt and Syria launched a simultaneous surprise attack in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, territory

Humanitarian Concerns

The Israel-Hamas conflict has always posed a significant humanitarian challenge. The renewed hostilities on October 7, 2023, only exacerbated these concerns. Civilians on both sides of the conflict found themselves in the crossfire, with innocent men, women, and children suffering the consequences of the violence. Hospitals in Gaza are being bombed and facing an influx of injured individuals, stretching their already limited resources. In Israel, residents of southern communities spent much of the day in bomb shelters, living in fear for their safety. The impact of these ongoing hostilities on mental health, particularly among children, is profound and deeply troubling. The disinformation and misinformation of the hospitals bombing in Gaza has also flared tensions across the globe. Israel has shut off water, electricity and other essential supplies and aid in Gaza, creating a greater humanitarian crisis and internationals calls to immediately cease fire and restore water and electricity, and to permit aid to reach civilians.

International Response

The international community has responded to the escalating conflict with growing alarm. Nations worldwide have called for an immediate ceasefire and urged all parties to exercise restraint. International organizations, such as the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity have expressed their concern and called for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis. Various actors, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinkenhave attempted to mediate and de-escalate the situation. Egypt, a historical mediator in the Israel-Hamas conflict, has been in contact with both parties, striving to broker a ceasefire. International envoys and diplomats have also been working tirelessly behind the scenes, aiming to find a path toward peace.

Implications for the Region

The escalating violence on October 7, 2023, underscores the complex and volatile nature of the Israel-Hamas conflict. As this situation unfolds, several key implications become apparent:

  1. Regional Destabilization: The ongoing conflict in the Middle East, especially between Israel and Hamas, has broader implications for regional stability. It can influence the dynamics of other conflicts in the region, including those involving neighboring countries.
  2. Impact on Civilians: The civilian population, on both sides, continues to bear the brunt of the violence. The physical and psychological toll on the people of Gaza and southern Israel remains a pressing concern.
  3. Stalled Peace Process: The conflict poses a significant obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East. A lasting resolution has been elusive, and these recurrent hostilities make it even more challenging to achieve a meaningful peace agreement, including a two state solution.

The events of October 7, 2023, in the Israel-Hamas conflict serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges in the region. The international community’s calls for a ceasefire and a peaceful resolution are critical, but history has shown that achieving lasting peace remains a complex and elusive goal. As the world watches the situation with growing concern, the hope remains that diplomatic efforts will ultimately lead to an end to the violence and a path toward a more stable and secure future for all those affected by this enduring conflict.