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ANSWER Indiana is one of the signatories on the following statement issued by Butler’s Students for Justice in Palestine in the face of attacks by a small group of students and the administration.
Butler University: Stand against anti-Semitism and racism
We, the undersigned broad coalition of campus and community political, cultural, and religious organizations, stand explicitly against Student Senate Resolutions 2021-022 and 2021-021, which seek to repress supporters of a nonviolent movement for justice and to weaponize a spurious definition of anti-Semitism against human rights advocates, respectively. We affirm the right to political speech on college and university campuses, and we stand unwaveringly in support of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Butler University as they firmly resist racist, anti-Arab and Islamophobic repression.
Students have a right to advocate for freedom and justice. Exercising that right is all the more critical when our tax dollars and university funds directly contribute to injustice. The U.S. gives Israel $3.8 billion in foreign military aid every year: money and arms used to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians living under a brutal and grinding military occupation.
The Palestinian people have been oppressed by the Israeli government for decades. Nearly every aspect of Palestinian life is controlled by Israel, which separates Palestinian families, imprisons hundreds of children each year, routinely destroys Palestinian homes, practices segregation, prevents Palestinians from accessing life-saving medical treatment, and denies Palestinian citizens of Israel equal access to jobs, education, and more. This oppression is well-documented by reputable human rights monitors and is an affront to the values we hold dear: democracy, justice, and equality.
Oppression, anywhere in the world, is always met with resistance. No government, particularly one which commits human rights abuses, is above criticism and boycotts. The real outrage here is that students fighting for justice and equality are targeted for their courage and conviction.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is about freedom. It’s about stopping the flow of weapons and funds to a state that is oppressing an entire civilian population by using celebrated social justice tactics like boycotts and divestment. This form of peaceful protest was called for by over 170 Palestinian grassroots organizations in 2005 in order to pressure Israel to comply with international law and uphold equal rights. Modeled after the work of the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, the call for BDS has been embraced by churches, trade unions, academic associations, celebrities, and more all around the world.
But across our country, boycott and divestment resolutions, and even educational events about BDS have been viciously, and deceptively, attacked by campus administrations and others, who seek to suppress the political expression of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities who advocate for Palestinian rights. Anti-BDS legislation, such as Resolution 2021-022, upholds a legacy of repression and disenfranchisement. Because we stand against the racist targeting of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students, and against attacks on students’ right to political boycott, we condemn Resolution 2021-022.
The IHRA redefinition of anti-Semitism equates criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism, and, by doing so, seeks to silence human rights advocates, encourage fear-mongering, and manufacture division. If we actually value democracy, justice and equality, then we are obliged to criticize governmental policies, for we know that critique is aimed at the policies of the state, not the people who live there. And we know the deepest truth: fighting anti-Semitism is inextricably linked to the fight against all other forms of oppression, including white supremacy and Islamophobia. Fighting anti-Semitism is an indispensible part of the fight for Palestinian liberation and self-determination. It is all the same struggle, and it always has been. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates opposition to injustice with anti-Semitism, denies this simple truth in an exploitative and self-defeating manner. Authoritarian attacks on the free speech of Palestinians and their allies will never protect Jewish students, but will in fact exacerbate divisions in places where solidarity is more crucial than ever. We thus condemn Resolution 2021-021, and affirm our unwavering commitment to dismantling anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinian bigotry, Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, and all forms of identity-based violence.
Last, we affirm the legitimacy and character of SJP at Butler University. SJP is utterly dedicated to the principles of freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people and all communities struggling against oppression and dispossession. Attempts to silence one of the few groups that represent Students of Color at a predominantly white institution serve to vilify and disenfranchise an already underrepresented community on Butler University’s campus. Reproducing anti-Arab and Islamophobic stereotypes creates an unsafe environment for Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students on campus. In the midst of the growing epidemic of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, and xenophobic violence, student body representatives must affirmatively promote the safety, security, and academic/political freedoms of marginalized communities on campus.
Universities foster the diffusion and growth of knowledge. They are meant to expand students’ intellectual and academic capacities, not hinder them. So we ask you, simply, to stand for justice. Stand for democracy. Stand up for free speech. And stand, at the very least, for our right to argue, assert, and advocate for fundamental human rights. We stand firmly in solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine and urge the Student Senate at Butler University to vote AGAINST Resolutions 2021-021 and 2021-022.
Butler University Organizations:
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)
Bust the B.U.B.B.L.E
Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance (APIA)
Latinx Student Union (LSU)
Gender Equity Movement (GEM)
Black Student Union (BSU)
Indianapolis Community Organizations:
Jewish Voice for Peace- Indiana (JVP)
Indy10 (Black Lives Matter- Indianapolis
Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance (IUYA)
Showing Up for Racial Justice- Indianapolis (SURJ)
Act Now to Stop War and End Racism- Indiana (ANSWER)
Party for Socialism and Liberation- Indianapolis (PSL)
Central Indiana Democratic Socialists of America (CINDSA)