Philosophy for Palestine

November 1, 2023

We are a group of philosophy professors in North America, Latin America, and Europe writing to publicly and unequivocally express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and to denounce the ongoing and rapidly escalating massacre being committed in Gaza by Israel and with the full financial, material, and ideological support of our own governments.

We do not claim any unique authority—moral, intellectual, or otherwise—on the basis of our being philosophers. However, our discipline has made admirable strides recently in confronting philosophy’s historically exclusionary practices and in engaging directly with pressing and urgent injustices. To this end, we call on our colleagues in philosophy to join us in overcoming complicity and silence. 

As we write, bombs have killed over 8,500 people in Gaza. By the time you read this, that number will have risen. [Update 2/29/24: the death toll is now estimated to have surpassed 29,000.

Thousands more are trapped under rubble. For over three weeks, a siege of the territory has cut off food, water, medicine, fuel, and electricity. A million inhabitants of northern Gaza have been ordered to flee their homes amid airstrikes and in advance of an ongoing ground invasion with nowhere safe to go. Talk of a second nakba is chilling, yet apt. People of conscience have an obligation to speak out against these atrocities. This is not a difficult step to take; what is far more difficult for us is to turn away in silence and complicity from an unfolding genocide.

To focus, as we do here, on the actions of the Israeli state and the unflagging support it receives from the US and its allies, is neither to celebrate violence, nor to equivocate on the value of innocent lives. Civilian deaths, regardless of nationality, are tragic and unacceptable. Yet to act as though the history of violence began with Hamas’s attacks on October 7, 2023 is to display a reckless indifference to history as well as to both Palestinian and Israeli lives. In order for  violence to stop, the conditions that produce violence must stop.

The blockade of Gaza has lasted 16 years; the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has lasted 56 years; the dispossession of Palestinians of their lands and homes across historic Palestine has lasted three-quarters of a century, since the 1948 establishment of Israel as an ethno-supremacist state.  It is not without reason that observers—including both international and Israeli human rights groups—now characterize Israel’s control over the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea as a system of apartheid.

Most importantly, we are all too aware that the countries in which we live and work and to which we pay taxes is funding and abetting one party and one party only in this deeply asymmetric conflict. That party is not the oppressed, but the oppressor. 

Right now, the people of Gaza have urged allies worldwide to exert pressure on their governments to demand an immediate ceasefire. But this should—this must—be the beginning and not the end of collective action for liberation. If there is to be justice and peace, the siege of Gaza must end, the blockade must end and the occupation must end. Above all, the rights all people currently living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, as well as those of Palestinian refugees in exile must be respected.

We invite our fellow philosophers to join us in solidarity with Palestine and the struggle against apartheid and occupation.In particular, join us in supporting the academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions—distinct from individuals—as outlined by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).  We urge all individuals to speak out openly and fearlessly, and work to advance the cause of Palestinian liberation and justice for all.


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