Editor’s Note: This op-ed is part of a series of contributions related to the Israel-Gaza war. Letters and op-eds are sent in by community members and do not represent the beliefs of The Daily Tar Heel. The other op-eds related to this conflict can be found here.
UNC Students for Justice in Palestine is appalled by the anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Arab bigotry and Islamophobia at UNC since Oct.7.
UNC has long ignored threats directed at students exercising their First Amendment right to condemn Israel’s decades-long colonization and occupation of Palestine; and as Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza intensifies, so does the harassment of pro-Palestine students, faculty and staff.
Furthermore, we are disappointed by Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz’s message to the community on Oct. 13. We reject the claim that events in Palestine can be reduced to a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews.
This framing erases the history of co-existence between Palestinian Jews, Christians and Muslims prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. It also erases the existence of Palestinian Christians, many of whom witnessed the damaging of one of the world’s oldest Greek Orthodox churches in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza last week.
In addition, the notion that a Muslim/Jewish religious conflict is the root cause of the 75-year-old settlement of Palestinian land dismisses the thousands of Jewish voices calling for an end to Israel’s apartheid regime.
We are aware that the UNC administration contacted Israeli students and Jewish organizations soon after Oct. 7, but, to our knowledge, failed to reach out to Palestinian, Arab and/or Muslim students — many of whom have family in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.