Almost 2,000 faculty, instructional staff, and Ph.D. students at universities nationwide have signed an open letter titled “Sociologists in Solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian People.” Eight members of the University of Chicago community are on the list of signatories.
Signatories “unreservedly condemn the latest violence against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank at the hands of the Israeli regime” while failing to acknowledge the violence against Jewish people at the hands of the Hamas regime.
“We are witnessing internationally supported genocide,” the letter says of the Israeli campaign against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. “This latest siege comes as a continuation and escalation of the daily violence Palestinians faced for decades from Israeli colonization; an apartheid regime whose occupation is in clear violation of international law, but persists with the support of powerful governments globally.”
Julian Go, a professor of sociology at UChicago, is the fifth person on the 1,921-person-long list of signatories. The other seven UChicago community members who joined the open letter are:
- Eman Abdelhadi, assistant professor of comparative human development
- Kristen Schilt, associate professor of sociology
- Robin Bartram, assistant professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice
- Joyce M. Bell, associate professor in sociology and race, diaspora & indigeneity
- Anna Fox, Ph.D. student
- Connor Strobel, Harper-Schmidt fellow and collegiate assistant professor
- Sofia Butnaru, Ph.D. student
Many of the UChicago signatories have a general interest in race, identity, and gender issues.
Schilt, for instance, notes that her research interests are “[g]ender & sexualities, transgender studies, work and occupations, ethnography, qualitative methods, feminist & queer cultural production.”
The first section of the statement says, “While claiming its actions are a justifiable response to recent Hamas violence against Israeli civilians, it has targeted the civilian Palestinian population of Gaza, while exhibiting little regard for the loss of human life.”
In supporting that claim, the open letter cites the “racist and dehumanizing language” of Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, whom the letter quotes as saying, “We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.” However, the article that the letter links clearly states, “Israel’s defense minister . . . [described] the Palestinian fighters who attacked Israel over the weekend as ‘human animals’” (emphasis added).
Later, the open letter cites “anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim sentiment and violence” and says, “We join people around the world who are raising their voices in protest of this assault on human life.”
“We are also deeply troubled by the lack of concern and care for Palestinian and Muslim students at many of our universities,” the letter adds.
The letter offers, however, no condemnation of Hamas’s violence against Israelis or the antisemitism that has erupted since the beginning of October.