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An open letter from Faculty for Justice in Palestine

Protestor in front of Nassau Hall, with their back to the camera, wearing a keffiyeh and holding up a sign that reads "No more $$$$ for genocide."
"Sign promoting divestment from Israel at pro-Palestine protest."
Ammaar Alam / The Daily Princetonian

The following is an open letter and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit a piece to the Opinion section, click here.

In solidarity with the USACBI call for faculty action in defense of students who are currently under attack from university administrations, other student groups, and outside actors for their Palestine solidarity work, and as part of the broader movement to actively defend Palestinian life, liberation, and dignity, we hereby declare the founding of the Princeton Faculty for Justice in Palestine (FJP).

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We rise in coalition with the students, scholars, and people of conscience resisting the forces currently deployed to silence, mischaracterize, and criminalize dissent on college campuses and beyond. We refuse to muzzle our criticism of the Israeli siege and genocidal assault on Gaza, of apartheid in the occupied West Bank, and of structural racism and discrimination inside the state of Israel. With the establishment of this FJP Princeton chapter, we call attention to the dehumanization, erasure, and hypocritical condemnation of Palestinians and those who speak and act in defense of Palestinian life in the United States and around the world.

A culture of intimidation, silencing, and punishment is now moving across the United States and around the world. Those who speak and act in defense of Palestinian rights are targeted by networks of propaganda, intimidation, and surveillance. Chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Brandeis, Columbia, Barnard, and the University of Pennsylvania, among many others, are being harassed, shut down, suspended, and threatened by outside actors, students, faculty, and, in some instances, university administrators.

Political and legal measures are being taken in local, state, and federal jurisdictions to criminalize Palestine solidarity, whether expressed through speech or action. American politicians are calling for the cancellation of student visas and the expulsion of foreign students who speak out against Israeli war crimes. These heinous attacks constitute grave and material threats to the exercise of liberty in the United States.

We raise our voices in defense of our students, as well as students around the United States, who are under threat of censure and reprisal for taking political stands that are moral, reasonable, and valid in a free society.

We, Faculty for Justice in Palestine and Princeton University, demand that President Eisgruber ’83 and the Princeton University administration:

- Consistently and uniformly defend academic freedom, freedom of speech, and the right to peaceful assembly. We call specifically upon President Eisgruber to show the moral courage that he has shown in regard to other political questions in the past: speaking up for DACA students in 2017, for Black lives in 2020, and for Ukrainians facing Russian invasion and occupation in 2022, to name the most relevant and salient recent examples.

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- Communicate through both personal and institutional channels that Palestinian life is no less precious and valuable than any others. Princeton students, especially those dedicating themselves to the cause of Palestinian freedom, need to hear President Eisgruber clearly communicate that his commitment to the principles of free speech and academic freedom apply to them as well.

We, Faculty for Justice in Palestine at Princeton University, declare our solidarity and absolute political support for the cause of Palestinian liberation. We oppose all forms of colonialism, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and apartheid. We stand against white supremacy in the United States and against Jewish supremacy in the land of Palestine/Israel. 

We support those in Palestine who have called for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and listen to their call for international solidarity in their struggle to:

- end Israel’s occupation and colonization of Palestine and all Arab lands occupied in June 1967, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights;

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- demand Israel recognize the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;

- demand Israel respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We support those in Palestine who have called for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli educational institutions for their complicity in colonialism and occupation. We will uphold the academic and cultural boycott until Israeli academic and cultural institutions recognize the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people as enshrined in international law and end their complicity in violating Palestinian rights.

We stand in absolute solidarity alongside Students for Justice in Palestine as a national organization, as well as the activists and students who animate the organization on the Princeton University campus and every campus around the world. We will not stand idly by while the most vulnerable members of our academic community are threatened with moral censure, legal prosecution, and physical harm. We are uncowed by those who seek to bully us and our students into quiescence under the false, unfounded, and scurrilous charges of being antisemitic or apologists for terrorism.

We call for the end to Israeli occupation and apartheid and for a free Palestine, the only true means to achieve peace, justice, and dignity in Palestine/Israel.

Signed,

Max Weiss, Associate Professor of History

Joshua Guild, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies

Meredith Martin, Associate Professor of English 

Zahid Chaudhary, Associate Professor of English

Anne McClintock, A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute

Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History

Dan-El Padilla Peralta, Associate Professor of Classics

Tehseen Thaver, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Lara Harb, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Studies

Molly Greene, Professor of History and Hellenic Studies

Rob Nixon, Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Family Professor in Humanities and the Environment, Professor of English and the High Meadows Environmental Institute 

Satyel Larson, Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies

Gayle Salamon, Professor of English

Colleen Asper, Lecturer in Visual Arts 

Yarimar Bonilla, Professor in American Studies in the Effron Center for the Study of America 

Susana Draper, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature 

Nancy Coffin, Senior Lecturer, Near Eastern Studies, Director of the Arabic Language Program

Brooke Holmes, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Classics 

Andrew Cole, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature

Editor’s note: The line about the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to equality refers to laws in Israel that perpetuate economic inequalities and the displacement of Bedouin villages. The authors declined to elaborate within the text of the letter.

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