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“Challengers” releases in theaters on April 26.
Review: “Challengers”
Published April 13, 2024

UMNFLAGS-JP calls for an end to Israel’s genocidal violence against Palestinians

The new group calls for an end to violence against Palestinians.
UMNFLAGS-JP+calls+for+an+end+to+Israels+genocidal+violence+against+Palestinians
Image by Sarah Mai

As we write, more than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed, over 8,000 are missing and presumed dead, and 61,154 have been wounded by the Israeli military’s pulverization of Gaza since Oct. 7, 2023. On our campus, University of Minnesota community members who have protested this horrific slaughter of civilians have endured silencing, censorship and accusations of antisemitism. 

Faculty members have faced threats and harassment, and Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) University community members have confidentially shared with FLAGS-JP that they have received racially motivated and discriminatory treatment for supporting Palestine. Some Minnesota faculty have — falsely and irresponsibly —  maligned University community members who advocate for Palestine and critique the state of Israel with baseless accusations of anti-semitism and pro-terrorist sympathies. They have further used these spurious charges to call for university and federal investigation of their co-workers and students. 

We echo our colleagues at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank that there can be no moral equivalence between colonizer and colonized: nothing justifies genocidal violence. 

Alarmed by this pattern of persecution and refusing silence in the face of genocide, a group of University community members has formed the FLAGS-JP collective in line with the call from U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) and formed the Faculty, Librarians, Alumni, Graduate Students, and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FLAGS-JP) collective. 

FLAGS-JP stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemns — in the strongest possible terms — the continuing violence Israel has unleashed, with the support of the United States, on Palestinians and their homeland.  We ask our colleagues to join us in challenging imperial grammars that attempt to normalize or sanitize the violence in Gaza. We are professionally and ethically obliged to acknowledge and encourage critical analysis of state propaganda that upholds settler colonialism, white supremacy and state-sanctioned violence

The decision to form this collective is born of urgency. We have no choice but to work toward educating our campus about the immensity of loss and devastation in Palestine. We have a responsibility to amplify the demands of the Palestinian people for an end to Israeli colonization and occupation. We must also hold the university accountable to our community, our students, and our colleagues amidst rising Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian violence in the US

While University leadership has issued multiple statements acknowledging the loss of Israeli lives in Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault, it has revealed its bias by remaining silent about the Israeli state’s massively disproportionate and unjustified violence against Palestinian civilians since October, as well as about the daily terror Palestinians have faced, before and since, from the Israeli state and settlers.

The campus community received a SAFE-U emergency alert on Jan. 11 about specific threats to shoot persons. However, inexplicably, neither the original notification, the University’s five updates, nor the University’s or law enforcement’s public statements, reported that the suspect named Iranian students as primary targets

We have witnessed Israel intentionally obliterate educational institutions across Gaza. At the University, to advocate for Palestine’s right to exist is to also advocate for academic freedom and freedom of speech. Pro-Palestinian speech, activism, and intellectual work are arguably the most frequent triggers of academic freedom violations, employment discrimination and censorship in academia: few political or personal stances render university community members who hold them as vulnerable to public persecution and administrative reprisals. We understand this reality as reflective of the larger truth that few, if any, sociopolitical causes are as stigmatized and marginalized as that of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and liberation.  

We firmly stand against Islamophobia and antisemitism, and we adamantly refuse the claim that supporting  Palestinian liberation constitutes antisemitism. We assert that Zionism is not an intrinsic or definitive feature of Jewish identity and recognize that silencing dissent and harassing Jewish and non-Jewish advocates for a free Palestine is a central part of the Zionist political project to normalize Israeli occupation, colonization and genocide. 

We hope and organize for Palestinian liberation from 75 years of Israeli settler colonialism, the end of the Israeli state’s apartheid system and occupation of the Palestinian Territories, justice and equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for all Palestinian refugees. 

As employees and students at a university founded on the dispossession of the Dakota people and which invests in companies that support the Israeli state’s persecution of Palestinians, we adhere to the founding principles of the USACBI, and we ask the University to support the call from Palestinian civil society and divest from the state of Israel. 

To learn more about the FLAGS-JP collective and our principles of unity, visit our website. We invite members of the University community, as well as colleagues at other Minnesota colleges and universities, to join us by signing this form

Signatures in alphabetical order:

Lana Barkawi, Postdoctoral Alumna; Timothy Brennan, Faculty; Danielle Dadras, Staff; Leith Ghuloum, Doctoral Student; Serra Hakyemez, Faculty; Esther Liu, Doctoral Student; Megan O. Manion, Doctoral Student; Nathaniel Mills, Faculty; Terresa Moses, Faculty; Sima Shakhsari, Faculty

* Signers are submitting this op-ed on behalf of Faculty, Librarians, Alumni, Graduate Students and Staff for Justice in Palestine (FLAGS-JP) at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

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  • Leslie Martin
    Apr 4, 2024 at 9:35 am

    Israel not a part of Jewish identity? That’s absurd. Israel is in our ancient texts and our daily prayers. The land of Israel is central to Jewish identity for the vast majority of Jews in the world. Study the religion, check with some rabbis and other Jewish thought leaders and see historians. It seems fashionable today to deny our indigeneity but that’s just convenient revisionism. Remember how the world created Israel as a sovereign nation just as it did with Jordan, Iraq and others? We do.

    How we make peace is a matter far beyond my imagination but recognizing that Jews are as much of this land as are the Palestinians is essential to long term solutions.

    Master’s alumna

  • Chill Daddyyyyyy
    Feb 4, 2024 at 9:18 am

    D.C., You should listen to your acronym: ¡Daddy Chilllllll! Pobrecito… ¡You sound angry, papi! Your li’l nueces gonna explode from hate and it ain’t a pretty site to watch. Talking about being unfulfilled and lashing out… sheeeeesh. Are you related to that dude, Joseph Mark Rongstad? Cuz you sure sound like him: Angry, bitter, and hateful, pendejo. And your comment ain’t funny, if that’s what you were going for. Just sayin’. Take a xanax and…. Daddy Chillllllllll…

  • Chill Daddy!
    Feb 4, 2024 at 9:13 am

    D.C., You should listen to your acronym: ¡Daddy Chilllllll! Pobrecito… ¡You sound angry, papi! Your li’l nueces gonna explode from hate and it ain’t a pretty site to watch. Talking about being unfulfilled and lashing out… sheeeeesh. Are you related to that dude, Joseph Mark Rongstad? Cuz you sure sound like him: Angry, bitter, and hateful, pendejo. And your comment ain’t funny, if that’s what you were going for. Just sayin’. Take a xanax and…. Daddy Chillllllllll…

  • D. C.
    Feb 3, 2024 at 12:59 pm

    Please join us, the latest group promoting The Right Way! While it may be hard to differentiate our group from thematically similar others, let us assure you that we are the Genuine Article.

    While it is true that other Right Way groups also claim that their Rightness does not need to be backed up by arguments because we have Strongly Held Religious Beliefs! Oh, wait, sorry, we didn’t fully edit our slides from the Right Way group we cribbed these notes from. Ahem. We don’t need to support our arguments because There Can Be No Moral Equivalence Between Colonizer And Colonized! Copyright! Trademark! All Rights Reserved! International!

    Please ignore the fact that while we acknowledge the University of Minnesota was founded on the dispossession of the Dakota people, we have absolutely no intention of actually pressing for any form of restorative justice for them. That would mean we would have to give up the benefits of colonialism that WE enjoy! Gross!

    Again, we don’t need to have a balanced or nuanced understanding because we and the people we claim to be on our side are oppressed! We are mixing up people from Palestinian and Iranian backgrounds, but who cares? That’s complexity! And if anyone questions us, we can and will accuse them of Hating Freedom and Religion! Shoot! Gotta edit this before I read it! We mean we will accuse them of CENSORSHIP, ISLAMOPHOBIA, and PERSECUTION!

    You may have noticed that like other Right Way groups, our members are basically unfulfilled and angry and want to lash out in a way that is never going to come back and bite us. We bet you feel that way too! If so, please join our group. Thanks so much!

    And we ARE different! How??? Ok! We got it! Listen to this! Down With Israel! We aren’t antisemites! What other Right Way groups have the GUTS to say that? ?? ??????

    Oh wait… lots of them do?

    Shoot.

    We’ll get back to you.

    Please like and subscribe to FLAGS-JP!!!!