October 13, 2023
After the apartheid wall separating Gaza from occupied Palestinian land was breached, we’ve seen unspeakable violence perpetrated indiscriminately against civilians. We grieve the thousands of lives already lost. We are appalled by Israel’s most recent aggressions in Gaza—flattening whole residential blocks, hospitals, and refugee centers with extensive and targeted bombings, and cutting off Palestinians from basic human rights such as access to electricity, food, water. On Tuesday, University of Michigan President Santa Ono made a statement on “Mideast violence” that did not once mention the colossal loss of Palestinian life not only in this past week, but over the past 70 years. We condemn U-M’s statement, which renews its commitment to Israeli partner universities, conveniently ignores the history of Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid in Palestine, and disregards the hardship endured by its own Palestinian students across U-M’s three campuses, who are undoubtedly affected by these recent events.
The violence that comes out of the open-air prison of Gaza is a consequence of the colonial violence that its people have endured for years. All military escalation in Palestine, including the tragic loss of countless Palestinian and Israeli lives, must be understood in light of this context. For over 70 years, Palestinians have endured ethnic cleansing and a regime of settler-colonial apartheid. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were brutally ethnically cleansed and forcibly removed from their homes during the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. 70% of Gaza’s population is comprised of those refugees and their descendants. The violence inflicted by Israeli forces on Palestinians has only intensified over the past few years. Israeli forces have killed dozens of Palestinian children in this year alone. The recent anti-Palestinian pogroms in the town of Huwara are but one instance of Israeli settler aggression. Thousands of Palestinians are held captive in Israeli prisons, many without the right to a trial. Millions more are trapped in the open-air prison that is the Gaza strip, where they have limited access to medical supplies, shelter, work, or even the bare minimum of safety. The UN declared Gaza living conditions “unlivable” in 2018, indicating that a continuation of its humanitarian disaster would amount to a creeping genocide.
This system of apartheid is supported by the American government and tax dollars. U-M invests in companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Hewlett-Packard Company, which have contributed technologies that have perpetuated human rights violations against Palestinians. This is unacceptable. We call on U-M to immediately divest from any companies that are involved in violence in the region. GEO urges anyone calling for non-violent resistance to support the peaceful movement for Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid.