The Palestinian Exception to Free Speech
by Noor Kareem and Craig Birkhead-Morton, Yale Daily News
Feb. 7, 2023
Although Yale claims to be a bastion of free speech that provides a forum for addressing all political and cultural issues, the one exception to this is the issue of Palestinian liberation.
The discourse around Palestine at Yale is surrounded by fear and restraint. Discussion is often prefaced with the familiar acknowledgment of how complicated the topic is, immediately obscuring the power relations between a Western-backed occupying power and a population subjected to life under occupation…
Many incorrectly frame Zionism — the political project seeking to establish Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people — as synonymous with Jewish identity. This conflation of the Jewish people with the Zionist state makes any criticism of the occupation immediately deemed “antisemitic.”
In reality, Zionism is an ideology and a political movement that, in the words of its founders, necessitates the erasure of Palestinians and the violent seizure of their land in the pursuit of creating a modern nation-state.
If we have learned one thing from the last couple of years, it is that silence kills. The lack of discussion on the systemic nature of Israeli war crimes has given total impunity to a state that murders civilians, massacres refugees and bombs a city already under siege. Since the assassination of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli forces in May 2022, the Biden administration has failed to hold Israel accountable. The number of murders is showing no signs of slowing down so far, as 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since the Second Palestinian Intifada. And as of Feb. 6, 2023, 36 Palestinians have already been killed…
In December 2022, Yalies4Palestine launched the first-ever BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign at Yale. Prior to this, Yale was the only university in the Ivy League not involved in the BDS movement, largely due to this campus’s pro-Zionist climate. This is despite public institutional condemnations of human rights violations in Iran and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We must overcome this culture of hypocrisy and call on Yale to take a stand against the Israeli occupation… As students at one of the most elite academic institutions in the world, we have an obligation to illuminate truth and honor light over darkness. Join us in fulfilling this obligation by signing and sharing our petition demanding that Yale cancel its contract with G4S — a security company involved in some of the world’s worst human rights abuses, including those in Israel — and by taking the initiative to learn more about the BDS movement.
[Article can be read in its entirety at yaledailynews.com/blog/2023/02/06/kareem-birckhead-morton-the-palestinian-exception-to-free-speech. To find out more about the BDS Committee for Yalies4Palestine, email [email protected] or [email protected]]