The American Studies Association writes to offer support and solidarity to scholars, faculty, students, and staff around the world who are facing elimination, termination, suspension, and sanctions due to their advocacy for Palestinian freedom, their location in Gazan universities, their criticism of Zionism, their solidarity with resistance to occupation, and their condemnation of genocide, militarism, and war.

No group of scholars faces the perils of the present moment more than students, scholars, and academic staff in Gaza. Every one of Gaza’s higher education institutions has been destroyed and hundreds of Palestinian educators and thousands of students in Gaza have been murdered in a process that the Palestinian Feminist Collective has called “scholasticide.” Palestinian scholars in Israeli institutions have also been arrested and silenced, including internationally renowned feminist scholar, Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian.

Across Europe and North America, scholars who criticize the ongoing genocide, or who criticize Zionism, or who support Palestinian freedom have been doxed, suspended, and fired. Contingent faculty, Muslim and Palestinian scholars, BIPOC and QTIPOC scholars have been the most vulnerable to these attacks. Our university administrations have remained silent about the assault on Gaza’s higher education infrastructure and about attacks on and endangerment of their own faculty and students who speak out against anti-Palestinian violence. Funding and support of the most vulnerable departments and faculty are threatened. Surveilling or sanctioning against teaching the full scope of the conflict (including its history, ecologies of warfare, or other related topics) creates an atmosphere of fear around intellectual engagement with war. 

At the time of this writing, thousands of students at dozens of universities have been arrested. Students have been suspended and face other disciplinary action (such as expulsion and eviction), and threatened and met with police violence - some even hospitalized after being brutalized and/or pepper-sprayed - for erecting peaceful encampments to protest university investments in Israeli war machinery. Columbia University, a campus that requires students to read Edward Said and Franz Fanon in their first-year curriculum, has criminalized students for peaceful, non-violent protest to colonial occupation and genocide. The events at Columbia are part of a rising wave of over 100 student encampments and protests at the Claremont Colleges, UC and Cal State schools, CUNY, University of Minnesota, UT-Austin, Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University, University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Yale University, Princeton, and more. Meanwhile, at USC, Asna Tabassum, the valedictorian of the graduating class of 2024, has been silenced due to imagined objections to her identity, her politics, and, indeed, her existence. The list of outrageous attacks on scholars at all kinds of higher educational institutions is too long to document here but taken together they represent an appalling complicity with a frontal attack on and policing of all knowledge production that doesn’t serve the interests of war.

The American Studies Association affirms its abolitionist principles, its commitments to intellectual criticism of war, empire, and elimination, its defense of insurgent knowledge production, and its solidarity with Palestinians. Our students have the right to learn from all perspectives. As scholars who may work at institutions located on unceded indigenous lands, or who work in buildings that were constructed by enslaved labor, or whose institutions benefit from war profiteering, we have a particular obligation to affirm the necessity of critical discourse, of academic dissent, of academic freedom, and of refusal to be complicit in genocide.