Statement on Palestine

Statement on Palestine

By Duke University Faculty for Justice*

*This statement was drafted in the week following October 7th by a concerned group of Duke University faculty in response to the current war in Gaza. What we have witnessed through numerous conversations with faculty, administrators, staff and students across our campus is that the fear of retaliation for speaking openly and teaching about this conflict has been palpable from all sides. To protect the vulnerable, we have decided to form and publish this statement as a collective, and invite others to sign in solidarity. We will publish the signatures in the near future / check this link for public signatures soon.

We write as a group of Duke University faculty committed to justice and self-determination. We write as teachers and scholars of imperialist histories, ongoing wars, global freedom and decolonization movements and their lasting impact in our world today. We write in mourning, in grief, and in anguish over the current War in Gaza which has taken the lives of Palestinians, Israelis, United Nations workers, journalists, and others. In the midst of this devastation, we write to provide support, context, and resources to our students and to our communities. As educators, we have been moved by the deep pain our Jewish students suffered in the wake of Hamas’ horrific attack against and kidnapping of Israeli civilians on October 7th. We join countless others in expressing our abhorrence of the intentional murder of civilians. We reject, however, the mobilization of grief to justify the Israeli state’s bombardment of Gaza, a disproportionate and illegal retaliation that has already killed over 8,000 Palestinians and counting, mostly civilians, including over 3,000 children. We note that negligible concern about the Palestinians killed by the Israeli onslaught has been demonstrated by the American government, much of corporate media, and frankly, most universities.  

It is important that we call the situation what it is: a crime against humanity and an ethnic cleansing. The Duke University Faculty for Justice stands in solidarity with those fighting for anti-colonial liberation, including the freedom struggle in Palestine. We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, and other students of color who may be facing harassment or targeting as a result of Islamophobia. 

The atrocities we have witnessed on and after October 7th did not happen in a vacuum. 

Zionist settler colonization emerged in the context of the rise and consolidation of Nazism. Neither European countries nor the US were willing to accommodate the massive numbers of Jewish refugees who had been displaced by the Holocaust. Since then, Palestinians have lost more land as the Israeli state has enacted policies encouraging settlement projects designed to displace and dispossess Palestinians from their land and homes. What we are witnessing today—including the brutal and around-the-clock bombing of civilians–is marked by the state of Israel’s apartheid military occupation of Palestinian land made possible in part by the United States and its people’s tax dollars, which amounts to $3.8 billion annually. 

We condemn the brutal and inhumane attacks against civilian lives and call for an immediate ceasefire. The decades-long status quo in the region—where the Palestinian people have been living without equal rights or the right to meaningfully self-govern—is at the root of the current war. Over two million people, nearly half of whom are children, have been entrapped in what has been widely reported as conditions of an open-air prison, given very little freedom of movement in and out. The Israeli human rights organization, B’tselem, concluded that Israel has established in Gaza and the remainder of historic Palestine, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This is apartheid.” Amnesty International agrees in its report “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians.” This is the historical and current context in which the Israeli state military’s orders to Palestinian civilians, called “human animals” by the Israeli defense minister, to evacuate their homes within 24 hours is impossible. Palestinians scrambled to flee knowing they had nowhere to go. Over one million human beings are being subject to starvation, walls on three sides, sea on the other, bombs falling overhead, with no place to go. This is unacceptable in any circumstance.

For context, Gaza is 141 square miles with a population of 2.3 million people, one of the world’s most densely populated urban spaces. Durham’s neighboring city of Raleigh is 147.6 square miles with only 467,665 people according to the 2020 US census. In its desire to destroy Hamas, the state of Israel has dropped more than 6000 bombs on Gaza in a week, destroying entire neighborhoods and families. It has also turned off water supplies and prevented food, fuel, and humanitarian aid from entering the area. 

American and Western news sources often fail to provide context and a platform for all voices. This leads people to understand Israel-Palestine as a timeless religious conflict, to mistakenly equate Zionism with Judaism and to dismiss all Palestinian struggles as Islamic fundamentalism and antisemitic, which in turn fuels anti-Muslim sentiment. Recently, in Chicago, a landlord fatally stabbed Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year Palestinian American boy 26 times. His mother was also stabbed multiple times. The landlord yelled “You Muslims must die” as he entered their home. We remember the daily threat to violence after 9/11 and during the pandemic and are scared for those in our communities who are facing retaliation. 

Just as important as it is to learn the history of occupation and apartheid it is vital to learn of the people and movements advancing forms of resistance, social justice, and liberation, from the BDS Movement to Jewish Voice for Peace. We support this coalitional organizing emerging from a wide range of marginalized populations, and recognize settler violence connects to such issues as policing, displacement, and disablement. It is imperative to reject injustices committed in our name.

We join the organizations and voices of those in public protest who call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and full access for United Nations humanitarian aid and international protections for the 1.2 million Palestinian civilians trapped in Gaza now, and those experiencing the ongoing violence of settler-colonialism in the West Bank.

We also call on our university leadership to follow through on their commitment to academic freedom so that we can fulfill our educational mission to teach the necessary context and provide support to all of our students and to our communities. Since the recent eruption of violence in Palestine, our students have repeatedly shared with us that they have not been taught the history or been provided with the tools by our universities to understand and to make sense of what they are witnessing unfold on their devices. It is our responsibility as teachers and as institutions of higher learning to provide the context and the tools to help make sense of what is happening in our world today so that our students can be informed and effective moral leaders. It is our responsibility as educators and as educational institutions to provide open and welcome spaces to our students and to our communities and teach this history. We ask the university leadership to provide the resources and the spaces to share this knowledge openly and without fear of retaliation with our students and to our communities. We resolve to inform and support all of our students with these necessary tools while underscoring that every life counts and every community has the right to mourn and grieve their dead. 


Duke University Faculty for Justice

Click here to sign in solidarity with Duke Faculty for Justice’s statement (with the option to remain anonymous).

Click here for a running list of resources.

To read this statement in Persian, click here.

To read this statement in Arabic, click here.

This list is complete as of 3:00 PM on November 6, 2023. To view a full list of signatories, please see the continuously updated document at the link here.

Signed in solidarity, on behalf of 156 signatories, some of whom choose to remain anonymous

Faculty (in alphabetical order):

  1. Anne Allison, Professor of Cultural Anthropology
  2. Fadi Bardawil, Associate Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  3. Nicole Barnes, Associate Professor of History
  4. Rann Bar-On, Senior Lecturer in Mathematics
  5. Nima Bassiri, Assistant Professor of Literature
  6. Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Assistant Professor of History, and Asian American & Diaspora Studies
  7. Leo Ching, Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  8. Hannah Conway, Assistant Professor of History
  9. Prasenjit Duara, Oscar L. Tang Family Distinguished Professor of East Asian Studies and History
  10. Sophia Enríquez, Assistant Professor of Music
  11. John D. French, Professor of History
  12. Frances Hasso, Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
  13. Hy Huynh, Research Scholar of Global Health, Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research
  14. Mohsen Kadivar, Research Professor of Religious Studies
  15. Ranjana Khanna, President, American Comparative Literature Association; Director, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute; Professor, English, Literature Program, and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
  16. Hae-Young Kim, Professor of the Practice of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
  17. Aimee Kwon, Associate Professor of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Cinematic Arts, and Asian American & Diaspora Studies
  18. Christina León, Assistant Professor of Literature
  19. Justin Leroy, Assistant Professor of History
  20. Kathryn Mathers, Associate Professor of the Practice of International Comparative Studies
  21. Cecilia Márquez, Assistant Professor of History
  22. Jessica Namakkal, Associate Professor of the Practice of International Comparative Studies; Asian American & Diaspora Studies; History; and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
  23. Mark Anthony Neal, James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of African and African American Studies
  24. Luciana Parisi, Professor of Literature
  25. Emily Lim Rogers, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, and Asian American & Diaspora Studies
  26. Adam Rosenblatt, Associate Professor of the Practice of International Comparative Studies
  27. Omid Safi, Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  28. Matthew Shutzer, Assistant Professor of History
  29. Anna Storti, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Asian American and Diaspora Studies, Asian/Pacific Studies Institute
  30. Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English
  31. Sarah Wilbur, Associate Professor of the Practice of Dance
  32. Joseph Winters, Alexander F. Hehmeyer Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Staff, Postdocs, Graduate students, Undergrads, and Alums:

  1. ​​Maha Ahmed, ‘23
  2. Chaya Brennan Agarwal, ‘23
  3. Setonji Agosa, ‘18
  4. Audrey Alexander, ‘23
  5. Tionne Barmer, ‘18
  6. Olivia Bowles, ‘18
  7. Alex Brunson, ‘18
  8. Autumn Carter, ‘17
  9. Michale Cavuto, Graduate Student, English
  10. Athia N. Choudhury, Postdoctoral Associate, Asian American & Diaspora Studies
  11. Sophia Chimbanda, ‘23
  12. Raisa Chowdhury, ‘15
  13. Cris Culton, Graduate Student, History
  14. Karolina DiStasi, ‘18
  15. Zachary Faircloth, ‘18
  16. Maria Fantinato Geo de Siqueira, Postdoctoral Associate, Cultural Anthropology
  17. Zeena Yasmine Fuleihan, Graduate Student, Literature
  18. Katherine Gan, ‘22
  19. Jen Gobaira, ‘24
  20. Kerinna Good, ‘24
  21. Jaime Acosta Gonzalez, PhD, Literature, ‘21
  22. Aida Guo, ‘26
  23. Sarah Hakani, ‘17
  24. Huda Haque, ‘26
  25. Alexis Harrell, ‘18
  26. Joseph Hiller, Graduate student, Cultural Anthropology
  27. Emma Heneine, ‘18
  28. Jackson Herndon, ‘24
  29. Michelle Huang, ‘23
  30. Jess Issacharoff, PhD, Literature, ‘19
  31. Sebin Jeon, ‘23
  32. Taylor Jones, ‘18
  33. Shreya Joshi, ‘24
  34. Taylor Johnson Karahan, ‘16
  35. Julia Kaufman, ‘18
  36. Ayesham Khan, ‘23
  37. Shania Khoo, ‘22
  38. Hannah Kinney-Kobre, Graduate student, Literature
  39. Carina Lei, ‘25
  40. Thang Lian, ‘25
  41. Marvin Lloyd, ‘18
  42. Alycia Love, ‘23
  43. Maij Mai, Staff
  44. Dana McLachlin, Graduate student, Cultural Anthropology
  45. Eli Meyerhoff, Franklin Humanities Institute, staff
  46. Alyssa Miller, PhD, Cultural Anthropology, ‘18
  47. Parmida Mostafavi, ‘18
  48. Mahnoor Nazeer, ‘19
  49. Melissa Neeley, John Hope Franklin Center, administrative staff
  50. Gopi Neppala, ‘17
  51. Emily Ngo, ‘25
  52. Zavier Nunn, Postdoctoral Associate, Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies
  53. Tana Parks, ‘24
  54. Athelia Paulli, ‘16
  55. Chandler Phillips, ‘18
  56. Patricia Pinckombe, ‘18
  57. Omid Pouresmaeil, Alum
  58. Farzain Rahman, ‘17
  59. Brinda Raghavendra ‘23
  60. Sydney Roberts ‘19
  61. José Sanchez, Graduate student, History
  62. Angelina Sala, ‘25
  63. Tamar Shirinian, PhD, Cultural Anthropology, ‘16
  64. Jake Silver, PhD, Cultural Anthropology, ‘22
  65. Alya Tapia, ‘19
  66. Matt Thomas, Graduate Student
  67. Luz Valdes ‘25
  68. Corin Zaragoza, Duke Human Rights Center@FHI, Program Coordinator
  69. Nicole Zhang, ‘25
  70. Yidi Zheng, Graduate student, Cultural Anthropology
  71. Tina Zheng, ‘24


The Duke Chronicle refused to publish this statement without substantive changes to the letter. It was published independently on Medium.

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