Sociologists for Women in Society Statement on Israel-Gaza – November 9, 2023

As a feminist organization deeply embedded in intersectional, anti-racist, and decolonial feminist, queer, and trans theory and activism, Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) decries and grieves the violence and humanitarian crisis that is increasing daily after the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, where members from the group killed more than 1,400 Israelis and kidnapped hundreds of others. SWS condemns the killing of innocent lives –– whether Palestinian or Israeli. We acknowledge that Jews across the globe have historically been victims of genocide and continue to experience antisemitic discrimination and violence. The latest attacks are an egregious example. We also recognize that the political, historical, and present-day Israeli military siege of Gaza has resulted in systematic violence, expulsion, Zionist settler colonialism, sexual and racialized terror, poverty, displacement, and ethnic cleansing. Israel’s current horrific violence against Palestine has resulted in over 8,000 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries. SWS decries the impact of Islamophobia on self-identified Muslim women and LGBTQ+ people.

We are an association that promotes social justice research within local, national, and international activist spaces, and we endorse the statement issued by the International Sociological Association to express our “deep concern about the horrific events of October 2023 in Israel and Palestine, that are continuing in Gaza, as the human carnage there is unfolding in plain view. We stand by and respect the UN resolutions concerning this situation and share the call by many of our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues for an immediate release of hostages, exchange of prisoners, and the ending of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

SWS agrees with ISA that we:

  • “stands in solidarity with the Israeli and Palestinian social scientists who have defended human rights and raised their voices against the killing and kidnapping of civilians, the bombing of civilian infrastructure, including residential areas, hospitals, and universities, and occupation and war in general.”
  • “condemns the massacre of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. We share the repeated denunciation by our colleagues in the Israeli Sociological Society of the violence against Palestinians and the illegal colonies in the Palestinian territories over the past few years.”
  • “We also express our deep concern about and condemn the rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia globally and the everyday acts of violence these entail. We are particularly alarmed by the political backlash within the international academic community.”
  • and “cannot remain silent as spaces of public and academic debate are shrinking and increasingly policed. Today, more than ever, we require critical interventions by social scientists. Academic freedom needs to be protected and promoted. Well-informed and nuanced debate and a historicized and sociological understanding of the events that have led to the October 2023 atrocities [and that continue as SWS releases this statement in November] are required to forestall further catastrophic loss of life. As stated by the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies at the University of Toronto, ‘it is not only permissible, but it is essential for scholars to situate the current war in its broad historical contexts, including those of settler colonialism.’ Our duty as sociologists is to maintain spaces of debate and foster discussion during such a critical moment.”

As a community of feminist scholars and activists, we acknowledge with humility the complexity of the issues that these events raise. Some SWS members, both faculty and students, as well as others more broadly, are currently experiencing a great deal of fear and anxiety in the academy concerning freedom of expression about the violence in the Middle East. This is especially the case for pre-tenure faculty whose area of expertise is Palestine-Israel and/or whose activist work focuses on this area, for fear of retaliation by their institutions. Many students feel that they are taking tremendous risks by even mentioning the current conflict in the classroom. As a feminist organization, SWS stands firmly in support of academic freedom and freedom of expression, which must be maintained and protected as core values in higher education. We also realize that the experience of fear and harassment surrounding the current conflict are not limited to those of us in the academy, but also threaten the well-being of feminist sociologists wherever we are based on our identities, ideas and beliefs.

Along with other feminist organizations, SWS demands an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The violence in Israel-Palestine and other ongoing conflicts around the globe point to the critical need for our continued efforts as a feminist organization to promote social justice and a peaceful, sustainable world.

Here is a list of readings and resources:

Teach-In for Palestine: No to Genocide, No to War, Ceasefire now!

The recording of the teach-in is now available here and on their Facebook page.

Here are the resources from their call:

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