SSSP Statements – January 2024
The Society for the Study of Social Problems wishes to join the millions of oppressed and working people across the U.S. and the world demanding a permanent ceasefire in Palestine. Since 1948, the Palestinian people have lived under the occupation of the apartheid state of Israel, enduring unrelenting oppression, murder, torture, displacement, and genocide. As those who study social problems, we know it is essential to situate the current moment within the global history and ongoing legacy of colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy.
Since October 7th, millions of Palestinians across historic Palestine have risen up to demand a free Palestine. In response, Israel has escalated its military attacks against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, targeting apartment buildings, bakeries, mosques, markets, schools, universities, hospitals, and other civilian areas, leading to widespread casualties, the eradication of entire families, and increasingly untenable living conditions as winter sets in and medical aid, food, and clean water remain limited. As of November 23rd, more than 14,800 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, with countless others likely to be identified under the rubble of bombed buildings months from nowi,ii. And in the occupied West Bank, Israeli organization Yesh Din has documented 218 Palestinians among the murdered since October 7th, more than 1,000 driven from their homes, and 93 towns and villages attackediii, with 16 villages ethnically cleansed in the last two months aloneiv. As of November 12, Israel has made at least 137 attacks on health facilities in Gaza, killing patients and health workers in the process, and cutting electricity and resources to facilities with incubators for premature babies and intensive care unitsv,vi. Israeli forces have fired missiles on the Islamic University of Gaza, raided Birzeit University and arrested eight students, and dropped white phosphorus on schools in Palestine run by the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)vii,viii,ix. Despite an agreed upon, four-day temporary ceasefire between Israel and Palestine, Palestinians attempting to return home to North Gaza have been shot, wounded, and killed by Israeli forcesx.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced a complete blockade of the 25-mile strip of land. Gallant said, “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.” Nissim Vaturi, Deputy Speaker of the Israeli Parliament, said of Israel’s actions thus far, “We are too humane. Burn Gaza now, no less.” This dehumanizing language is openly genocidal. Scholars who study genocide highlight that “dehumanization not only is a prelude to violence but also facilitates violent acts in the present and justifies and minimizes violence after it has been committed."xi Jewish Israeli genocide expert Raz Segal, has called this a “textbook case of genocide,” as have dozens of others international genocide studies scholars.xii Further, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has called the Defense Minister’s language “an invitation to commit a war crime.”
Jewish people across the US and the globe have mobilized on behalf of a ceasefire, an end to the genocide, and Palestinian liberation. Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, and even sons of former Israeli Defense Force generals, like Miko Peled, have articulated support for Palestinian equality within and across historic Palestine. We affirm here that anti-semitism and anti-zionism are not the same and should never be conflated.
Despite this, the attacks on Palestinians and those fighting for a free Palestine continues in Palestine and in the U.S. Mainstream and independent media workers have been fired from the Philly Voice and elsewhere, corporate leaders have called for Harvard to release the names of students within the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee to blacklist them from future jobs, and universities, like Columbia University and Brandeis University, have shut down student organizations (e.g., Students for Justice in Palestine). In Chicago, six year old, Palestinian, Wadea Al Fayoume, was murdered and his mother injured by a landlord declaring, “You Muslims must die,” in response to anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic rhetoric the landlord heard in the media.xiii A Muslim Stanford student was injured in a hit-and-run on campus, where the driver yelled “F— you and your people” before speeding away.xiv Just this weekend, Palestinian students from Brown, Haverford, and Trinity were shot in Burlington, VT, while wearing kuffiyehs and speaking Arabic.xv Attacks on Palestinians are clearly not limited to Palestine, but are occurring across the globe, including in the US and on our college and university campus, and toward Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh students, faculty, and staff.
Since October 7th, the National Women’s Studies Associationxvi, American Studies Associationxvii, the Middle East Studies Associationxviii, American Anthropological Associationxix, International Sociological Associationxx, Sociologists for Women in Societyxxi, Doctors Without Bordersxxii, nearly 2,000 sociology faculty across the U.S.xxiii, gender studies departments across the U.S.xxiv, and countless faculty at Princetonxxv, Northwesternxxvi, Stanfordxxvii, the City University of New Yorkxxviii, UC-Berkeleyxxix, and more universities have voiced their solidarity with Palestine.
As an organization committed to social justice, academic freedom, and liberatory politics, the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) joins the call for a permanent ceasefire, an end to the attack on Palestinians and those in solidarity with them at institutions across the U.S., and a free Palestine.
v https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2023/11/20/why-does-israel-target-palestinian-hospitals-psyops-say- analysts#:~:text=Throughout%20the%20war%2C%20Israel%20has,these%20claims%2C%20the%20ana lyst%20said