We are writing this letter to join those around the world who are calling for an immediate end to the war on Gaza. We call on the University of Bologna….
We are writing this letter to join those around the world who are calling for an immediate end to the war on Gaza. We call on the University of Bologna administration to raise its voice to demand an immediate ceasefire, the delivery of humanitarian aid, UN protection for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and an agreement for the release of hostages. In the face of a global scenario dominated by the winds of war and militarisation, we call on the entire academic community to mobilise to urge world leaders to work more courageously towards peaceful coexistence based on an end to the occupation and blockade of Gaza, in accordance with the principles of international law.
As lecturers, researchers and staff of the University of Bologna, we deeply sympathise with all the victims of the conflict, Palestinians and Israelis, and their families and communities. We are dismayed and outraged by all the atrocities committed against both Palestinian and Israeli civilians, and we hope that the international criminal and judicial tribunals will be able to carry out the necessary investigations to determine what, if any, war crimes have been committed by both sides. We mourn the dead, including thousands of Palestinian children, and are deeply saddened by the lives we are losing even as we write these words. We join in the deep sorrow for the loss of the innocent victims of the Hamas attack, taken by surprise as they danced free and happy, and at the same time we cannot forget that just a few metres away the people of Gaza live deprived of basic freedoms in the world’s largest open-air prison, under military occupation for 56 years.
Israel’s response to the 7 October attack has been overwhelming and brutal, and continues without the slightest respect for international humanitarian law. With more than 8100 confirmed dead and 1800 missing, including more than 3000 children, and thousands injured, the Gaza Strip has collapsed. Whole families have been wiped out, half of Gaza’s homes razed to the ground, universities, churches and hospitals destroyed. The Israeli government ordered a million Palestinians, already refugees for decades, to leave their homes in the full knowledge that there was no escape route as the Gaza Strip is sealed off. Before the ground assault that began on the night of 27 October, Gaza was also completely deprived of water, electricity and food, and left in darkness for many hours, cut off from the rest of the world, as all communication and telephone towers were bombed. All this in an area where Israel has carried out four major military campaigns between 2009 and 2022, killing over 5000 people (UNOCHA), appalling figures, but which pale in comparison to the brutality of the current attack.
Over the past 16 years, Israel has subjected the 2.3 million inhabitants of the occupied Gaza Strip to high-tech surveillance, an almost total blockade on movement and trade, frequent military incursions and bombings, control of water and electricity, and the entry of raw materials and food. According to Amnesty International, an apartheid regime exists in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as inside Israel. The Oslo Accords, which were supposed to mark the beginning of a peace process, have been systematically violated by the Israeli government, and conditions for Palestinians on the ground have deteriorated at every level: land dispossession continues, impunity for violence against Palestinian civilians by armed settlers (now numbering more than 750,000) under the protection of the army, house demolitions, and the occupation of Palestinian land. Daily humiliation of elderly, women and children at the network of 300 checkpoints scattered throughout the West Bank, indefinite administrative detentions, deprivation of freedom of movement, repression of freedom of thought and academic freedom, the violent occupation and expulsion of Palestinians from their places of worship, the appropriation of natural resources and the systematic destruction of the indigenous natural environment and cultivated land: and the list goes on. In the face of this dramatic situation, the international community has not only remained silent, but has actively contributed to isolating, if not openly opposing and criminalising, the numerous initiatives of peaceful and popular resistance to the occupation and the apartheid regime.
After the failure of years of peaceful resistance and the inevitable delegitimization of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’s retaliation was, as Gideon Levy argued in Haaretz, unthinkable but also predicted.
We have watched in disbelief Israeli politicians boast about the atrocities in Gaza and dehumanise the Palestinians, described by Defence Minister Yoav Gallant as ‘human-animals’ and by Prime Minister Netanyahu as ‘wild beasts’. We have seen European governments, and first and foremost Italy, block effective diplomatic resolutions or – unlike Spain and France – abstain from voting on 28 October at the UN General Assembly on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire. We believe that abstention is an unacceptable position for European governments, not least because of Europe’s heavy historical responsibilities in Israel and Palestine.
We are witnessing an increasingly deep disconnection between civil societies, demonstrating worldwide for a ceasefire and a political solution to the crisis, and their governments’ positions of indifference or unconditional support to the extreme right-wing Israeli government, from which many Jewish communities and intellectuals around the world are also dissociating themselves in the clearest way. We are also witnessing violations of freedom of thought and information in Italy. Voices critical of what more than 800 international jurists and war historians describe as ‘genocide’ are almost non-existent in mainstream newspapers.
We demand that the administration of the University of Bologna upholds its mission by committing to a knowledge production inspired by the principles of freedom of thought and respect for human rights, so that every student in our community can develop as a citizen of the world, endowed with the profound moral conviction that all human beings should be treated with equality and fairness. We expect and demand nothing less. It is also part of our mission as educators, in strict accordance with our duty of care, to demand from our University to:
§ Raise our voices to demand an immediate ceasefire, the release of hostages, and the provision of humanitarian aid and protection by the United Nations to Palestinians in Gaza and other occupied territories. In particular, we call on the Academic Senate and the Rector to make these demands publicly in the appropriate institutional fora within and outside the University;
§ Adopt a resolution in the Academic Senate expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza first and foremost, and with all civilian victims;
§ Commit firmly to freedom of expression by guaranteeing the right of UniBO students to debate as well as actively promoting debates and discussions in the university;
§ Commit to concrete acts of solidarity and partnerships with Palestinian university institutions;
§ Affirm that the way to end violence is to end the root cause of violence: apartheid and the Israeli occupation of the territories allocated to the Palestinian people by the UN.
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If you have any problems entering your name in the form, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your first name, surname and affiliation (department). Please also note that your name will not appear immediately on the list of signatories when you sign up, but will have to be manually updated by the organisers to appear the following day. Any violations and partial information will be deleted.