As all of us mourn the lives lost to the latest upsurge of violence, how do we appropriately understand what has been happening in the past few days in Gaza?
Israel’s National Security Minister, an ultra-nationalist instigator of violence convicted eight times including on charges of rioting and supporting a terrorist organization, once prohibited from serving in the Israeli military, is now in command of its security apparatus.
Israel’s Finance Minister declared the intent “to be cruel,” spoke of Palestinians as “human animals,” and enunciated the plan to deprive Gaza of food, fuel, and water.
Gaza, an open-air prison under siege by the extreme-right Israeli state since 2007, home to two million people, half of them children, is now under nonstop aerial bombardment that exposes the people and environment to toxic chemicals like white phosphorus.
This is a premeditated massacre and cleansing of an Indigenous population.
The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany all quickly pledged their “steadfast and united support” of Israel, whose leaders are now stepping up their implementation of genocide.
Such historic injustice has not occurred in isolation. It is the culmination of a century-long Zionist project facilitated by the capitalist class across the Global North: through the military-industrial war machine that profits from dispossession and destruction of Palestinian land; through the mainstream media that feed off dehumanizing the Palestinian people, erasing their history, and turning sentiments of humanity into pretexts for barbarity; through technoscientific development—which we as scientists and engineers are complicit in—funded by and funneled into bolstering the apartheid apparatus of Israel; as well as through the hypocrisy of Western academia, which, for all its professed values of “anti-racism” and “decolonization,” continues to acquiesce to settler-colonialism.
It is therefore our duty as members of Science for the People—an organization born out of the struggle against US atrocities in Vietnam, with predecessors who fought against apartheid South Africa, fascist regimes across Latin America, and above all, US imperialism—to take concrete steps in this dark moment and plant the seeds of revolutionary change.
1) As scientists, we must inform our politics through deep and thorough analyses of history, circumstances, and structures. The struggle against colonization has always been fought by people of all ethnicities and religions, and Zionism has historically been opposed by left-wing Jewish leaders, scientists, and activists. We stand unequivocally in solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemn the seventy-five plus years of Zionist crimes that led to this genocide.
2) As workers within the academic-industrial complex, the products of our labor are subsumed by systemic forces and co-opted for war, which prompts us to reflect on ourselves and the institutions we work for. How much funding has an institution received from foundations with explicitly Zionist aims, and does this correlate with the callousness toward Palestinian students in recent university statements on the events unfolding in Gaza? What techniques, ideology, or both concurrently (as in the attempted biologization of the Jewish race) have been developed in any given field of study, under constraints set by our own settler-colonial system, to uphold the status quo? How has the notion of “progress” in the name of science been propped up by the Israeli state and its Western allies to mask the retrogression of their coloniality? This moment reveals the urgent need and opportunity to achieve a higher level of political consciousness among scientists. We must accelerate this process.
3) As activists and organizers, reflection on our complicity barely reaches the minimum of what’s required. What can we do as an organization to materially support the Palestinian cause? What can we contribute to our coalition partners at the frontline that are weathering racist and Orientalist abuses? How to resist the appropriation of science and technology by the colonizers? Within academia, we witness pro-Palestine voices being drowned out and those that dare speak out against genocide being prosecuted, fired, or silenced at the behest of political and economic interests of the Israeli apartheid state and transnational corporations that profit from the Occupation. How do we connect our own class struggle against the academic-industrial complex with local advocacy for Palestinian rights and the global liberation movements? There is an urgent need and opportunity to educate, agitate, organize, protect those who speak the truth, push back against Zionism, build labor militancy and internationalism among oppressed classes.
The Palestinian struggle is our struggle. Radical science demands of its practitioners clarity of thought and courage for action. SftP calls on all members and supporters to collectively pursue concrete strategies toward the liberation of Palestine.