Statement on Palestine/Israel Conflict

As we write this statement, the rapid escalation of the Palestine/Israel conflict has been going on for over 3 months. As scholars committed to critical academic engagement on ‘decolonising development’ and the struggle for eliminating all forms of oppression and injustice, our starting point is to demand that a permanent ceasefire is agreed.  

We condemn the collective punishment being waged on the Palestinian people by the Israeli state in Gaza, where two million people, almost half of them children, remain trapped and under siege, and more than 25,000 people have already been murdered at the time of writing. We also condemn the simultaneous upsurge in colonial violence by the Israeli military and settlers on the West Bank.  

We condemn the horrible attacks, rapes, kidnappings and murders committed by Hamas against Israeli and foreign citizens on 7 October, leading to the deaths of 1,200 innocent people

We condemn colonialism in all its forms including the contemporary settler colonialism and the crimes resulting from policies enacted by the Israeli state. 

We note that the violent crimes of 7 October have been committed within the context of a longer history of settler colonialism. This context continues to be invisibilised by a discourse that deliberately and serially conflates religion and nationhood, Israel with Jewish people and Palestinian Arabs with Muslims, rather than what we recognise as the machinations of colonial power over the last 100 years. Our condemnations of the rise in both antisemitism and Islamophobia around the world that have accompanied this escalating conflict stem from a desire to express solidarity against hate and oppression by drawing a more nuanced understanding of the diversity of peoples and histories in this geographical and temporal space, made up of people who observe Judaism, Islam, Christianity or no faith at all. 

In this context, a ceasefire is not enough. Colonialism limits freedom; the self-determination, liberation and safety of one group will never be possible when it comes at the expense of the denial of freedom of another group. An end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is the only route to a lasting and just peace for all. 

As Europe-based scholars, we especially recognise the European historical legacy of colonial violence. It is this violence that has led to genocidal horrors outside and inside Europe, with the Holocaust against Jews alongside the too often forgotten Roma and other minorities. Yet colonial violence and erasure is now being perpetrated on Palestinian lands that are historically multicultural and interfaith. The dangerous conflation of antisemitism with anti-Zionism means that there is little space in our discourse to identify how the (far-)right Zionists currently governing Israel are enacting white supremacy and are dehumanising other peoples (and now killing them), in the same way as earlier oppressors had done with European Jewry, whom these Zionists claim to represent. As decolonial scholar-activists, we recognise that the horrors of the Holocaust against primarily Jewish people represent an unbearable continuity, rather than a break, with the norms of European colonial violence. We agree that we need to ‘fight antisemitism itself, instead of targeting and delegitimising critics of Israel and the fight against other racisms, occupation and genocide‘. Fighting antisemitism must be part of any decolonial, anti-racist practice to challenge ALL forms of hate. 

Decolonial approaches are centred on identifying unequal power structures, avoiding hierarchies between different kinds of victims and different kinds of crimes. As decolonial scholars we believe in the need to engage in multi-directional memory and see connections between victims of all sides.  

Moreover, epistemic violence accompanies colonial violence, as the latter disavows and erases the tangible and embodied knowledges, memories of occupied peoples. As such, we condemn the deliberate destruction of Gaza’s libraries, cultural centres, universities and public art works. Any reconciliation MUST include support for the preservation and rebuilding of Gaza’s libraries, universities and cultural centres as part of any reparatory effort.  

As academics who believe in freedom to speak and listen, learn and unlearn, we reach out across difference from a place of empathy and concern. We share the grief of all those affected by this conflict, and the need to radically change the political context that will eliminate the drive for retaliatory cycles of violence. We need to find paths to reconciliation, justice and healing, and as academics we aim to build bridges of solidarity for the safety and justice for all concerned. 

As the language of ‘decolonisation’ has also become a target for censorship (privately and publicly) and political appropriation across Europe in this crisis, we also speak out against censorship and the cancelling of European academics who seek to discuss how peace might be achieved in this region. We believe the discussion MUST not only include an acknowledgment of the Euro-American colonial roots of Israel’s establishment and strategic importance in that region, but also of ongoing complicity of most Western nations. This complicity is enacted directly through continuous financial and military aid, and indirectly through unequivocal political support for Israel despite repeated violations of international law. Our academic freedom to discuss and debate these issues in ways that are thoughtful, inclusive, considered and evidence-based is an important element of how a just peace can be achieved. 

We express our solidarity with all people subject to forms of colonial and racist domination. As we write, millions of people are being killed, maimed and displaced around the world in wars and conflicts in Yemen, Syria/Rojava, DR Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Ukraine, Nagorno Karabakh (where Armenians have been expelled en masse), Haiti and so on, amidst political interests where human suffering and death are seen as ‘collateral damage’.  

All efforts need to go to support equal justice and democratic coexistence of all peoples in multicultural and plurinational countries. Decolonisation and epistemic freedom are the ONLY routes to a just peace, freedom for all and a habitable planet. 


This statement does not convey the position of the COST Action network “Decolonising Development” in its entirety, nor is it in any way connected to the COST Association. The undersigned are endorsing the statement in their individual capacities as scholars and activists.  



Lata Narayanaswamy, University of Leeds 

Julia Schöneberg, University of Kassel 

Luqman Muraina, University of York 

Seema Arora-Jonsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 

Paola Minoia, Università di Torino  

Giti Chandra, University of Iceland 

Gaia Giuliani, CES – University of Coimbra 

Wendy Harcourt, Erasmus University Rotterdam 

Zoltán Ginelli, Ludovika University of Public Service 

Aram Ziai, University of Kassel 

Yunus Emre Genç, Giresun University 

Tiina Seppälä, University of Lapland 

Bukola Oyinloye 

Livia de Souza Lima, University of Bielefeld

Cheryl McEwan, Durham University

Amitangshu Acharya, IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education

Su-ming Khoo, University of Galway

Ruth Arias-Gutiérrez, Universidad Estatal Amazónica

Elif Kara, Eskişehir Osmangazi University

P. Livaha, Erasmus University Rotterdam

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