As the Chair of the Anthropology Department, I write to express solidarity with the Palestinian people as they struggle and persevere in the face of the many forms of violence imposed on them by the Israeli state in the course of its illegal expropriation of their lands, a project carried out with unwavering American financial, military, and political support for over 70 years now. What would have to happen in the US for Americans to be able to say, ‘Palestinian Lives Matter,’ as many have learned to embrace ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and thus to acknowledge the devastation to Palestinian lives that has so long been countenanced and enabled by the American public? Today, this country is coming to awareness of the devastation produced in African-America lives by the legacy of slavery, and a crucial public debate is taking shape, including in our university and in this department. In the same reparative spirit, we should be able to say ‘Palestinian Lives Matter.’ Yet this phrase remains almost unspeakable within our dominant public arenas. Of course, many of the activists involved in BLM have recognized the connection between their own struggle and that of the Palestinians, and have spoken forcefully against the current escalation of violence by Israel. (https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/black-lives-matter-paterson-statement-solidarity-people-palestine/(link is external)).
No administration in Washington has ever made a serious attempt to curtail Israel’s violent expansionism and its brutal toll on the Palestinian people, and the current administration has shown no inclination to do so either. The result of maintaining this position is obvious to everyone: every few years, just as we see occurring now, an act of Palestinian resistance will provide the Israeli military with an occasion to test its latest weaponry on the captive populations of Gaza and the West Bank, with devastating consequences for the Palestinians who live there. Today, in a moment when any criticism of Israeli policies is increasingly being equated with antisemitism and forbidden by law, it is crucial to state, directly and unequivocally: Palestinian Lives Matter!
(The Chair's Letter reflects the opinion of the Chair alone and does not represent the view of the department on a whole)