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Editorial: Where is the moral fortitude of the University’s leader? Palestinian rights are Human rights.

Image by Sarah Mai

The phrase “Progressive Except for Palestine” refers to organizations and individuals who support progressive causes in the world, but fail to extend their support to the Palestinian cause.

 While the University of Minnesota is a liberal institution, the current administration fails to exhibit any sense of fairness and justice on the Palestinian issue. Throughout my four years at the University, I watched statement after statement be released from the University in support of students belonging to groups who experienced violence here in the US and abroad. In the wake of George Floyd, Ukraine and Asian hate the University made it clear where they stand. After Israel’s 2021 violent bombing campaign, which killed over 250 Palestinians engaged in civil protests in Gaza, over 100 students marched on campus showing solidarity with the Palestinian people. Immediately after this march in support of Palestinian lives, the University put out a statement condemning anti-semitism. This, of course, dangerously conflated acts in support of justice in Palestine as an attack on an entire faith. Acting in such a manner, our administration delegitimized the very real threat of anti-semitism Jewish students on campus face, which has no relation to the Palestinian search for justice. 

What makes this selective “solidarity” even more heinous is the fact that not only does the University ignore the plight of Palestinians, but our University directly contributes to their suffering by contributing to the system that upholds it. For example, the University sends students to partake in study abroad programs at Israeli universities, such as Technion University. Technion is party to the propagation of Israel’s illegal settler-colonial occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Technion, which is located in the ethnically cleansed city of Haifa, is also inaccessible to most of the University’s Palestinian international students, as well as many Palestinian-American students, as they are forbidden from entering Israel due to the impossibility of obtaining the necessary Israeli military permit. The fact that the University of Minnesota, a land-grant institution that acknowledges the land it sits on is stolen from Native Americans, collaborates with Israeli universities known for their segregationist policies against the very people they dispossessed is the hallmark of liberal hypocrisy. To add insult to injury, the University defied the majority of its student body who voted in a campus-wide referendum which called on the administration to divest from companies that have engaged in human rights violations in Palestine. 

Most recently, Interim President Jeff Ettinger sent a campus-wide email condemning “the abhorrent acts committed by Hamas.” Since he sent that email, over 20,000 Palestinians have been brutally murdered by Israel, nearly half of them children, in what the world is calling the most extensive bombing Gazans have ever experienced. Over 50% of civilian infrastructure has been destroyed, 1.9 million have been displaced, and the entire population of 2.1 million is facing starvation and dehydration as a result of the siege. Where is the moral outcry of the University’s leaders and what kind of liberal ideas and practice, and a sense of justice are the core of the University? It is as if the University has consciously and shamelessly decided the dehumanization, subjugation, brutalization and collective punishment of millions of Palestinians is acceptable to our institutions and its leaders. Nearly all credible international experts of human rights law have condemned the acts of the Israeli government in occupied Palestine as a war crime. Nearly every Palestinian student at the University has lost, or knows someone who has lost family or friends in this genocide through the atrocities committed by Israel. Despite such glaring facts and agony, the president of the University does not have the moral and ethical fortitude to call a genocide a genocide. The president’s actions and words tell the Palestinian students and all those who cherish human rights and dignity their lives and views do not matter. 

We as Palestinian students demand, as we have time and time again, the University stop its apathy towards us. We have asked for the bare minimum. It has not been received. The tides are changing, as evidenced by the millions of people marching worldwide for Palestine. We find our comfort in community, and in knowing that our stance is against hatred and injustice everywhere. These are truly sad times that our University’s leadership cannot find the humane consciousness to be on the side of justice. Where is the liberal heart of the University?  It is time that they stop its glaring prejudice against its Palestinian students.

Nadia Aruri (she/hers) is a Palestinian-Lebanese American, who graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in May 2023. She is the co-founder of the Arab Students Association at the University of Minnesota, and served as the president of Students for Justice in Palestine from 2021-2023. 

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  • Nadia Aruri
    Dec 13, 2023 at 1:11 pm

    Just to clarify the comment written on Dec 12, 2023 at 5:28 pm was not from me. Please use a last initial to avoid confusion. Thank you!

  • Nathan
    Dec 12, 2023 at 9:56 pm

    Nadia- the UN voted for partition. The would-be Israeli government voted to accept. The Arab world voted to go to war. Palestinians who remained in their homes became Israeli citizens and have more rights than Arabs in any nation in the middle east. Jews were cast out of Arab nations at the time and they and their families make up the majority of the citizens of Israel. Jews had also been living in what is now Israel for thousands of years prior to the creation of the modern state of Israel. You clearly know little beyond Iranian/Hamas propoganda. Try Cracking a book not written by someone who has an ax to grind.

  • Nadia
    Dec 12, 2023 at 5:28 pm

    Really Nathan?! It started 75 years ago, when israel started displacing an entire population and forcefully taking their land! What happened in October 7th didn’t happen out of the blue. The Palestinian people, especially the people of Gaza, have been living under an illegal occupation of their land. Goodness!

  • Nathan
    Dec 11, 2023 at 5:43 pm

    This would never have started/would end immediately if Hamas had not killed 1200 civilians and not taken 200+ hostages. If the hostages were released, the war would be over.

    To blame Israel only for this tragedy and ignore Hamas’s actions is antisemetic. This is the antesemitism the University of Minnesota (and 90% of the United States) is talking about that seems to puzzling to the author of this piece.

  • Ethan
    Dec 11, 2023 at 11:28 am

    Thank you for this truth, Nadia!