A group of professors, Departments, research groups, unions, student organizations, individual employees, researchers, and lecturers of Ghent University, issued a statement condemning what they called the misleading coverage in the Belgian media of the Israeli colonization of Palestinian land.
The letter condemns media outlets for consistently portraying the enduring violence in Israel/Palestine as “clashes” between two equal parties, which are “difficult to understand”, or as a mere “conflict” between Hamas and Israel. They say this ignores the true nature of the Israeli/Palestinian question: that of occupier versus oppressed, that of colonizer versus colonized.
“We condemn the violent Israeli attacks on the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and within Israel. We express our solidarity with the Palestinian people who have opposed, since 1948, a settler-colonial regime involved in ethnic cleansing, land annexations, population transfers, and apartheid”, said the statement issued by the Department of Conflict and Development Studies at Ghent university.
It continued, “Many of us research historical and contemporary processes of (de-)colonization, human rights and (international) politics, and (globalized) forms of social, racial, and gender inequality. Many of us also work closely with academic and other civil society partners in the Global South, including Israel/Palestine. This collaboration and research have taught us that it is impossible to remain unmoved in situations of manifest (neo-) colonial injustice. A misleading position of “neutrality” to this injustice only legitimizes the unequal balance of power and the constant violation of human rights. This is also contradictory to the values and norms that we, as the UGhent community, hold dear, it said.
“We therefore strongly condemn the lack of political action by the Belgian Government and the European Union against the blatant violations of international law by Israel, the project of illegal settlements and the discriminatory laws against Palestinian citizens in Israel.
“The recent threat of forced expulsion of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, the attack of the Al Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, the violent repression of Palestinian protests inside and outside the Green Line and the bombing of the completely shattered population in Gaza are not isolated facts. They are part of a structural process of Israeli colonization and dehumanization of the Palestinian people, said the statement.
“If we take the recent debates on decolonization in the media seriously and respond to the recent call from our own students to decolonize our university, then we cannot remain blind to one of the most obvious examples of colonial continuity. We, therefore, call on everyone, both inside and outside our university, to express their support with the Palestinian people and acknowledge their right to freedom and self-determination. One concrete option is to respond to our Palestinian colleagues’ call to support sanctions and a boycott against Israel as long as it continues with its colonial politics. The occupation must end.”