Community and university organizations stand in solidarity with SJP Butler

Editor’s note: This statement of solidarity was first published by SJP Butler on November 7, 2023, in response to anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Islamic racist attacks against SJP Butler and the Palestinian solidarity movement more broadly. The statement is signed by 13 Butler University Organizations, 11 Indianapolis Community Organizations (including the Indianapolis Liberation Center), and 13 Butler University Faculty.

Statement of Solidarity

Dear Butler University and Indianapolis community,

We write this statement as a collective of organizations and individuals that are dedicated to fighting all forms of oppression. As supporters and advocates of justice and freedom, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle.

We mourn all of the lives lost in the past 32 days. We recognize that the only way to end the cycle of violence is to address the root cause of it: Israel’s brutal occupation.

Settler colonialism is an inherently violent process. Over the greater part of the past century, illegal Israeli settlements have been brutally colonizing indigenous Palestine, committing war crimes in the process. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed and millions have been displaced due to Israel’s colonial project.

What Israel is doing in response to the attacks of October 7th is genocide. After they demanded that 1.1 million Palestinians leave Gaza, they proceeded to bomb and kill people trying to follow this order. They continue to bomb hospitals, schools, refugee camps and residential areas in Gaza. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed, and many more have been wounded. Israel has cut off water, electricity, fuel, and food to Gaza. Israel has additionally enforced a total media blackout, almost entirely cutting off Gazans from the outside world.

We reject the two-dimensional and racist narrative that is being presented by the global and American media. Any narrative that does not include the brutal colonization of Palestine and the subsequent apartheid state is misleading. We staunchly condemn the portrayal of Palestinians as terrorists and affirm their right to resist colonization in line with the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and UN resolution 3246 and 37/43.

We also condemn the racist language that is being used against Palestinian people. Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant commented “We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly”. These comments highlight the very ideology that is fueling Israeli apartheid.

We call attention to the fact that this is not an issue of religion, but rather that of a system of apartheid and settler colonialism.

To stop the rapid loss of life, it is imperative to administer an immediate ceasefire. No humanitarian or peacebuilding actions can effectively be accomplished until there is a ceasefire.

We condemn the rise in racist and Islamophobic rhetoric on Butler’s campus and the wider Indianapolis area. The Butler University College Republicans recently released a statement that called Butler University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine “pro-Hamas” and “pro-terrorist.” They also called the peaceful protest that demonstrated opposition to Israel’s war crimes in Gaza a “Day of Jihad”. They have falsely claimed that SJP is in favor of the “kidnapping, rape, murder, and beheading of Israeli citizens”. The Butler University College Republicans have also made false claims about chants at the protest that the Students for Justice in Palestine assisted in organizing. This harmful and dangerous rhetoric pushes stereotypes of Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians as barbaric, violent, and sexually deviant. They go on to reference 9/11 in their statement. This is especially chilling because of the spike of hate crimes and illegal surveillance that Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and Sikhs faced post-9/11. Finally, they ask Butler University to remove SJP’s registered student organization status.

These attacks on SJP are not isolated. Jefferson Shreve, a mayoral candidate for Indianapolis, has also directly referred to Butler’s SJP as “American devotees of a terrorist group”. SJP has also received threatening emails calling for the expulsion of their members. On October 14, The Collegiate Commons, a student-run newspaper with contributors from universities in central Indiana, released an article referring to SJP’s protest as “students celebrating violence”.

It is not a coincidence that the majority of Butler SJP’s executive board are Muslim. These false, unsubstantiated, and dangerous claims have created an environment where it is acceptable to single out and target people based on their religious beliefs and ethnicity for harassment. This extremely hostile environment has made Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian Butler students feel unsafe and targeted on campus.

This harmful rhetoric can be found throughout the media in the US and we have already seen the consequences. A six year old Palestinian-American boy was killed and his mother wounded by their landlord who targeted them because they were Muslim and Palestinian. The landlord said “You Muslims must die”, before the brutal attack. We believe words matter, and the collective demonization of Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian people in the US has only led to more hate crimes. We mourn Wadea’s senseless death and stand in solidarity with his family.

The Students for Justice in Palestine and all signed organizations and individuals support the Palestinian liberation struggle. We hold that all of our struggles for liberation are deeply interconnected, and we are united in our battle against systems of colonial oppression.

Together, we resist and fight back against the colonial narrative.

Until Liberation,

Butler University’s Students for Justice in Palestine

In Solidarity

Butler University Organizations

Advocates for Autism Alliance
Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance
Black Christian Fellowship
Black Student Union
Bulldogs for Universal Design
Bust the B.U.B.B.L.E.
Butler Survivors Alliance
Diversity Program Council
Gender Equity Movement
Latinx Student Union
Muslim Student Association
South Asian Student Association
Students Of Color Allied in Healthcare

Indianapolis Community Organizations

ANSWER Indiana
Circle City Mutual Aid
Flanner House
Indiana University Middle Eastern Student Association – Indianapolis
Indiana University Students for Socialism – Indianapolis
Indianapolis Liberation Center
Indy10 BLM
Jewish Voice for Peace – Indiana
Muslim Student Association Indiana University – Indianapolis
Party for Socialism and Liberation – Indianapolis
Showing Up for Racial Justice – Indianapolis

Butler University Faculty

Professor Anthony Murdock II, J.D.
Dr. Jishnu Guha-Majumdar
Dr. John Cornell
Dr. Lav McKittrick-Sweitzer
Dr. Lynne Kvapil
Dr. Mira Kafantaris
Dr. Nancy Germano
Dr. Rhea Myerscough
Dr. Ryan Daugherty
Dr. Sholeh Shahrokhi
Dr. Teigha VanHester
Dr. Terri Carney
Dr. Terri Jett