Colonization, Not Conflict


(The following letter was submitted to the Daily Orange on September 21, 2016 and is signed by 35 students, faculty and alumni. Illustration by Ethan Heitner.)

From September 22-24, SU’s Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC) is joining with Tel Aviv University to host the conference “Transforming Intractable Conflicts: Their Restructuring and Reframing.” Several panel descriptions specifically address “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Framing the occupation as an “intractable conflict” or a timeless, ethnic clash obscures a highly asymmetrical relationship of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine. It also ignores the powerful political and economic forces that sustain it, including substantial U.S. military aid to Israel, recently increased to over $4 billion annually. These resources should be used to address racial and economic injustices within the U.S.–for instance, by addressing the demands of the Movement for Black Lives and rectifying the ongoing destruction of Indigenous land that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Native nations are resisting.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has gained widespread global support, including endorsement by the Movement for Black Lives, Jewish Voice for Peace, the National Women’s Studies Association, American Studies Association, and Critical Ethnic Studies Association. As a political movement, BDS aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land by demanding three goals: 1. dismantle the apartheid Wall and end the military occupation of Palestinian land, 2. cease legalized racial discrimination by recognizing the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and 3. protect the right of Palestinian refugees to return home. Israel’s disregard for these goals puts it in violation of international law. The guidelines put forth by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) call on people around the world to boycott and resist events that aim to create a facade of equality between colonizers and colonized.

The conference’s misguided framework and institutional partnership with Tel Aviv University are in direct violation of the Palestinian call for boycott. As PACBI states, “these nonviolent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.” The supposition that a military occupation can be resolved through dialogue ignores the structural root of the conflict. The BDS movement, on the other hand, rightly names Israeli occupation and apartheid as the root of the conflict and offers a realistic path toward ending Israeli apartheid by targeting its structural basis.

For more information on BDS, visit

SIGNED (alphabetically)

Koy Adams, B.A. Sociology, Women and Gender Studies, Alum ‘16

Himika Bhattacharya, Assistant Professor, WGS

Hayley Marama Cavino, Program Coordinator, Democratizing Knowledge

Dana L. Cloud, Professor, Communication and Rhetorical Studies

Lisa Cohen, B.A. Global and International Studies, SUNY Oswego Alum

Hasmik Djoulakian, Undergraduate Student, Women’s and Gender Studies ‘17

Carol Fadda, Associate Professor, English

Tula Goenka, Associate Professor, Television, Radio & Film

Amalia Golomb-Leavitt, B.A. Psychology, SU Alum ‘15

Cecilia Green, Associate Professor, Sociology

Ken Harper, Associate Professor, Multimedia, Photography & Design

Jeanelle Hope, M.A. in Pan African Studies, SU Alum ‘14

Matt Huber, Associate Professor, Geography

Kulsoom K. Ijaz, Esq. (SU Law Alum)

Laura Jaffee, Graduate Student, Cultural Foundations of Education

Amy Kallander, Associate Professor, History

Vani Kannan, Graduate Student, Composition and Cultural Rhetoric

Michael Kelly, SU Alum

Jocelyn Killmer, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Distinguished Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies

Jackie Orr, Associate Professor of Sociology

Tom Perreault, Professor, Geography

Brian Pickett, Palestine Solidarity Collective

Minnie-Bruce Pratt, Professor (retired), Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, Women’s and Gender Studies, LGBT Studies

Robin Riley, Director LGBT Studies

Mariel Rivera, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Yanira Rodriguez, Graduate Student, Composition and Cultural Rhetoric

Manuela Ruiz, Graduate Student, Geography department

Kate Siegfried, M.A. Communication & Rhetorical Studies, SU Alum ‘16

Nikeeta Slade, Palestine Solidarity Collective

Kait Simon, B.A. Policy Studies and Political Science, SU Alum ‘14

Taveeshi Singh, Graduate Student, Social Science and Women’s and Gender Studies

Karrieann Soto, Graduate Student, Composition and Cultural Rhetoric

Fabiola Ortiz Valdez, Graduate Student, Anthropology

Susan S. Wadley, Professor, Anthropology

Sean Wang, PhD Candidate, Geography

Erin Abu-Rizq Welsh, Class of 2018, Political Science


What Solidarity Means to Us

As a group of people who work, study, and organize, and are differently affected and wholly outraged by Israel’s colonization and occupation of Palestine, we come together in order to learn from each other and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

We support, in principle and in practice, the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions  (BDS) as issued and endorsed by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

We understand Zionism as an ideology that rests on the violent theft of Palestinian land and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people and culture. This includes the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the Apartheid wall with/in the West Bank, and the policing and segregation of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

We oppose attempts to normalize relations with Israel and the occupation of Palestine, whether economic, political or cultural. This includes “pinkwashing”, wherewith Israel paints itself as an LGBT oasis while trotting out racist, Islamophobic tropes about the Arab world, as well as so-called “dialogue” projects that are “based on the false premise of symmetry/parity between the oppressors and the oppressed or that claim that both colonizers and colonized are equally responsible for the ‘conflict’…”*

Continue reading What Solidarity Means to Us