This statement is not the official position of the University of British Columbia and the Director of the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. Its content and circulation have been voted by an overwhelming majority of our regular and sessional faculty, and students through their GSA and GRSJUA representatives at the unit meeting on January 31, 2024. GRSJ Faculty Research Associates do not have a direct vote on Institute matters and were not consulted about this statement.
GRSJ Statement on Palestine
The Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC-Vancouver strongly condemns the Israeli-state violence against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank and calls for an immediate ceasefire as a necessary first step on the path to a justice-based resolution to the decades-long settler colonial occupation in the Palestinian territories. The indiscriminate bombing has demolished apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, universities, churches, mosques, bakeries and refugee camps, and has resulted, to date, in the deaths of more than 27,000 Palestinian people, including at least 10,000 children. In the immediate term, a ceasefire is necessary to stem the unprecedented death toll, violence, and inhumane cutting off of food, water, sanitation and other basic needs for thousands of innocent children and civilians. We also demand that all war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international law be documented, and that all responsible be brought to account. We demand that the international community take action to end this genocidal war and that U.S support for the war end, via the bankrolling and arming of the genocide by supplying weapons to Israel.
We call upon the UBC administration to affirm the academic freedom of our community of scholars who study, teach and profess anti and decolonial critiques of settler colonialism and to affirm the right to anti-zionist speech on campus. We further charge that Zionism, which requires a settler colonial state that daily tortures and imprisons Indigenous people, is itself an antisemitic ideology founded on violence. As faculty and students at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice, we insist on our right to contribute our knowledge, skills and expertise to university events and public avenues — particularly in situating the ongoing violence in the region in broader historical contexts, including our analysis of settler colonialism; European, U.S. and Canadian imperialisms in the Middle East; and global movements for Indigenous sovereignty and land rights.
We denounce the bullying and harassment in classrooms, social media, The Ubyssey and public spaces that many of our faculty and students have experienced for advocating for Palestine. There have been specific instances targeting Palestinian, Black, Arab, South Asian and Indigenous students on the UBC campus and in our department which are particularly concerning, including harassment by security and unidentified individuals and groups, cancelling and delaying of room bookings for events, the surveillance and recording of our classes, the silencing of those in precarious research and teaching assistantships, and other documented incidents. Moreover, Department Heads and Directors have been admonished for posting democratically-arrived at statements, and told that they are not entitled to the same academic freedom rights as “regular” faculty.
To date, Israel has bombed and destroyed all eleven universities in Gaza, depriving almost 90,000 students of their rights to an education and inflicting catastrophic damage to Palestinian culture and knowledge. As educators entrusted to instruct UBC students in critical discourses of colonial racial capitalism, we affirm the Palestinian struggle as an Indigenous liberation movement confronting a settler colonial state, and thus we recognize the right of the Palestinian people to freedom and sovereignty from Israeli occupation, settler colonialism, and apartheid. At the institutional level, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the UBC Indigenous Strategic Plan commits us to act to advance the rights and freedoms of Indigenous peoples across the globe. We refuse the complicity of institutions and state organizations that lend arms, funding, or intelligence to Israel, and we call on the United States, Canada, and UBC to follow the call of the United Nations general assembly resolution on December 12, 2023 as well as the International Court of Justice interim ruling on January 26, 2024 by calling for an immediate ceasefire and ending any and all support of Israeli apartheid.
The department resolves that the research, teaching and community engagement work of all members of the GRSJ unit, including that covering the topic of Palestine, is valid and meritorious of recognition in departmental fora (newsletters, webpages, and announcements). To do otherwise would be a breech of academic freedom and the university’s policies on this matter.