MESA: Support Palestine and condemn bigoted acts at IU campuses

The following statement was issued by the Middle Eastern Student Association and made public on February 21, 2024.

We, The Middle Eastern Student Association, write this statement to condemn the genocide in Gaza and unequivocally show our support for the Palestinian liberation. Alongside this, we condemn the Islamophobic and antisemitic acts against students and faculty on Indiana University campuses.

What has been happening in Palestine did not begin on October 7th but with the Establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The Nakba, otherwise known as the catastrophe in English, was the mass expulsion of the Palestinians during the couple of years after the official establishment of Israel, where three quarters of the Palestinian population was displaced. For years, the Palestinians have suffered under the hands of the Israeli and Western governments, their homes and rights being taken from them with no mercy. To this day, there are over 7.2 million Palestinians who are considered refugees.

We now turn to October 7th, when the genocide escalated to nothing that has been seen before. As of the day this was written, 85% if the population of Gaza has been displaced and around 25,000 Palestinians have been murdered. From these numbers, over 10,000 are children who were not given a chance at life. Of the children who are still alive, many of them, the initial numbers being 24,000-25,000, have been left orphaned. These numbers do not even represent the full picture, with the whereabouts of many individuals still unknown.

If Israel is not killing the Palestinians with direct violence and bombings, they are doing it using inhumane means. Israel has cut off water and electricity in Gaza since the October 7th attacks, leaving the Palestinians in the dark, in the cold, and without clean water to drink. As a result of the blockade, almost 40% of the people in Gaza are at risk from famine from the 2.3 million population going hungry, according to the United Nations. UNRWA has gone as far as to say they are “grappling with catastrophic hunger.”

The genocide has not only impacted the Middle East but on our own American soil, many students and faculty are getting attacked on their campuses for their backgrounds and beliefs. The surge of Islamophobia and antisemitism is much like what occurred after 9/11, arguably even worse. On November 25, 2023, three Palestinian college students near the University of Northern Vermont college campus were show in a hate crime; one of these boys, Hisham Awartani, is now paralyzed from the chest down.

Indiana University prides itself in DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusivity, yet when it comes to the Arab community, they are more often than not discluded from this statement. One of the initial cases of this appeared with Haley Toch in September, where she posted a TikTok making racist remarks towards a Palestinian student, even threatening to pepper spray him if she saw him again. IU’s response was incredibly unacceptable, with a 24-hour story being posted to reaffirm its stance against discrimination and nothing more; Haley Toch got away essentially untouched.

Even more recently, a tenured IU professor has been suspended for teaching after he helped with the Palestinian Solidarity Committee book a room for an event. Basic policies of academic freedom were essentially ignored by the IU administration. Five days later, a Palestinian artist’s exhibit at IU Eskenazi was canceled for security reasons and her Instagram posts advocating for Palestine.

That being said, we demand not only an immediate ceasefire but a permanent ceasefire in Gaza to halt the genocide against Palestinians. We have had enough of watching Gaza go up in flames, people murdered, and children being left with nothing but crushed dreams.

A ceasefire is not where it stops. Israel must end the blockade on Gaza. Humanitarian aid must be able to enter so that Palestinians are given the basic human rights they deserve: water, food, clothes, medication, shelter, and protection. This goes without question, and it does not take much thought as to why.

Finally, we turn to Indiana Universities across the state to end the discrimination against Palestinians, Middle Easterns, and Palestinian supporters on campuses. We have seen a trend in discrimination and inequity towards Arabs, Palestinians, and Palestinian supporters on campuses, especially at Indiana University and we demand policy changes as well as more advocacy by the administration to change this matter.

It does not take one to be pro-Palestine or pro-Israel to see that what has been happening is an issue of human rights. We refuse to stand by as thousands of infants are issued their death certificates before their birth certificates. We refuse to stand by as Palestinians get erased from history and have their land become officially labeled as “inhabitable” by the UN humanitarian chief.

We, The Middle Eastern Student Association alongside the signed organizations, stand with the oppressed and will fight until our demands are met and they are liberated.

The Middle Eastern Student Association

In Solidarity,

Middle Eastern Student Association IU Indianapolis


Featured photo: A recent protest against the ongoing Israeli genocide in Palestine. Credit: Indianapolis Liberator.