November 20, 2023

The Association of Black Anthropologists is horrified by and fully condemns the Israeli state’s continuous bombing of the Palestinian people trapped in Gaza and the West Bank. This indiscriminate carpet bombing has demolished apartment buildings, hospitals, and schools, and has resulted, to date, in the deaths of more than 13,000 Palestinian people, including at least 5,500 children. Against international humanitarian law, Israel has also cut off supplies of food, water, medicine, fuel and electricity, while bombing hospitals, mosques, churches, schools, universities, refugee camps, and other heavily populated residences. Additionally, Israel has destroyed key infrastructural resources, such as hospital generators and the water tanks. At the same time, its leaders have continued a campaign of dehumanization of Palestinians – calling them “inhuman animals,” “people of darkness,” and advocating their ethnic cleansing and slaughter. This is part of an ongoing policy of justifying the genocide of Palestinians by the Israeli settler state.

As Black anthropologists whose work often centers on the histories and legacies of slavery, colonialism, occupation, and white supremacy, we know too well the discourses and practices that enable an occupying force to dehumanize an entire people. We also know that the current escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel needs to be understood in historical context. This includes understanding Israel as a settler colonial project, the very foundation of which is the violent expulsion of the Palestinian people and occupation of their land. 

In June 2023, we endorsed the Resolution to Boycott Israeli Academic Institutions to affirm the call of Palestinian civil society organizations for recognition of their right to self-determination and to protest against the undermining of Palestinian academic institutions. As of today, Israel has bombed and destroyed all eleven (11) universities in Palestine, the latest being the Al-Azhar University in Al-Mughraqa in Gaza, depriving almost 90,000 students of their rights to an education. We cannot, in good conscience, stand by and watch the complete obliteration of the Palestinian people and their culture – in full view of the entire world and with the full support of Western leadership and funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. This is not a world that any of us – but especially not anthropologists – should want to live in. We cannot remain silent. 

We call on all who believe in the value of all human life, all who support decolonization, to denounce the genocidal actions of the state of Israel. We demand nothing short of: 

1) a ceasefire – an immediate end to the indiscriminate bombing and all ground and air operations against Palestinians trapped in densely-populated refugee camps, neighborhoods, and hospitals;  

2) the urgent restoration of food, water, medicine,  electricity, and Internet to all parts of Gaza; 

3) an end to the current bombing and harassment and killing of people in the territories in the West Bank, and

4) an end to the 17-year siege on Gaza. 

We also affirm the right of Palestinian people to be free from settler colonialism and apartheid, and to self-determination.

We are also extremely concerned about the increasingly oppressive climate at colleges and universities in Israel and the United States, punishing students and faculty who speak up on behalf of Palestinians. Speaking on the behalf of the violence Palestinians are being subjected to does not equate to anti-Semitism.  

As we mourn the increasing and brutal loss of life and the destruction of religious, cultural, medical, and educational institutions, we send a special message of support to our academic colleagues in Palestine. We also send solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues and students and their supporters across the Palestinian diaspora who are facing intimidation from their institutions for their protest of Israeli apartheid and genocidal action towards Palestinian people.

At this moment, when calls for “decolonizing anthropology” are increasing, we will continue to critique the dehumanizing discourse, concepts and social structures that animate anti-Palestinian and settler colonial violence. And as long as the indiscriminate bombing and killing – and occupation – of Palestinian people continue, we cannot remain silent.