Actions & Events

Actions

A list of calls, statements, boycotts, and other actions in service of the principles of Northwestern Educators for Justice in Palestine.

Northwestern Peoples Resolution

Note: On April 24, 2024, this resolution was passed by the Associated Student Government. Northwestern faculty, students, staff, and alumni can sign here

Northwestern People’s Resolution

Northwestern University must stop supporting Israeli apartheid and occupation. We, students, staff, and community members demand that Northwestern


American academic institutions have become hostile spaces for anti-war, anti-apartheid, and pro-Palestine speech. Northwestern University is no exception, curtailing speech and intimidating students and educators. We call on President Schill to condemn the targeted harassment of students and the disproportionate censorship of pro-Palestine speech, to affirm and protect student civil liberties, and to build a safe environment for intellectual and political expression.


Through academic partnerships such as the Israel Innovation Project (IIP), Northwestern contributes to the legitimation of occupation and genocide, and of the large apparatus of propaganda, white-washing, and scholasticide that support it. The IIP routinely platforms right-wing Zionist officials, including former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who openly endorses ethnic cleansing. Furthermore, as a STEM partnership, the IIP is complicit in strengthening the Israeli military-industrial complex and its capacity for surveillance and AI-powered apartheid. We demand that Northwestern University immediately cease the IIP and other collaborations with Israeli institutions that maintain and support apartheid and that it take a public stance for a permanent ceasefire. 

 

The Northwestern administration chooses to hide its direct and managed investments, failing its own commitments to transparency and accountability. Students, faculty, staff, and other stewards of the university’s success ask that our tuition, labor, care, and trust not be misused to enrich institutions and companies that support and maintain apartheid, occupation, and the oppression of the Palestinian people. We demand that Northwestern divest from all defense stocks and investments and from all companies that support Israeli apartheid. To this end, we demand that all future investment decisions be made with input from a recurring committee of students, staff, and community stakeholders.   



ONGOING ATROCITIES 


For the last 6 months, the people of Gaza have been victims of one of the most atrocious and monstrous sieges in modern history, as Israel has brutally killed over 33,000 Palestinians (400+ in the West Bank). After months of tightening what has–for the last 76 years–been a brutal and insufferable occupation, Israel is leading a multifront war on the people of Palestine that can only be described as ethnic cleansing and genocide. 


Despite the immense loss of life and all that sustains it, US diplomatic, military, and top academic institutions have chosen to stand firmly on the side of terror. Northwestern is no exception. At a time when the international are raising their voices to denounce Israel’s disregard for human dignity and international law, the leadership of Northwestern has chosen to silence anti-war voices, intimidate students and scholars, platform Zionist narratives and provide cultural and material support to institutions that participate in the oppression of the Palestinian people. 



STUDENT RIGHTS UNDER THREAT


Northwestern’s prioritization of its donors and financial stakeholders over the liberty of political expression on campus has come at the expense of the safety of Arab, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Indigenous, and other voices of dissent against occupation, apartheid, and genocide. Egregiously, two Black Northwestern students were arrested under an obscure anti-KKK law for distributing a parodied cover of The Daily Northwestern that critiqued the paper’s coverage (or lack thereof) of the genocide; the charges were later dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office after public pressure from students and faculty. This instance is not an isolated, apolitical act but rather part of the more general disproportionate censorship of pro-Palestine speech on campus. 


On November 13th, President Schill announced the appointment of an Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate. As stated in the President’s letter, this decision emerged from a series of conversations, including a discussion with Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism, who openly argues for the equivalence of anti-Zionism and antisemitism. In the same November letter, President Schill stated that the Northwestern community should “emphatically reject statements or banners that significant parts of our community interpret as promoting murder and genocide,” including the slogan “From the River to the Sea.” To unilaterally assert that this statement should fall outside the bounds of university-protected free speech disregards its history as a call against “the fragmentation of Palestinian land and people by Israeli occupation and discrimination.” As Harvard faculty have argued, the attack on this slogan as inherently eliminationist is both inaccurate and irresponsible. It asymmetrically delegitimizes pro-Palestine speech and fails to mention the removalism and eliminationism proper to various statements associated with the Israeli state and, more importantly, with its concrete actions. As legal scholar Noah Zatz points out, censoring this phrase on campuses “relies on pervasive racist and anti-Muslim stereotypes of Palestinians as endemically hateful, violent, deceptive, and hostile to Jews” and constitutes a violation of Palestinian students’ civil rights. 


More recently, the president established yet another advisory body, the Committee on Free Expression and Institutional Speech, whose stated goal is “to examine what are the boundaries, if any, for free expression and academic freedom.” Between establishing bodies to police our tone, arresting students for exercising their rights, and openly calling for the silencing of pro-Palestinian voices, it is clear that our institution’s singular response has been one of censorship of any and all voices deemed uncomfortable or challenging to the status quo. 


These intimidation and censorship tactics have had a nefarious effect on our campus culture, and on our ability to express ourselves freely and to responsibly exercise our intellectual and ethical duties as students and educators. This is a moral, epistemic and pedagogical failure, which threatens the very core of the university’s mission. Yet the problem is not limited to asymmetric silencing and censorship, as Northwestern is complicit in the active production of narratives that legitimize and sustain oppression.



PARTNERS IN GENOCIDE


The university continues to maintain its institutional partnerships with Israel through study-abroad programs, dual degree programs, and research projects. This renders our institution complicit in legitimizing, arming, and promoting a colonial regime built on apartheid and ethnic cleansing. As Maya Wind details in her book Towers of Ivory and Steel, Israeli universities actively sustain Israeli settler colonialism and have for decades enacted “scholasticide,” a term coined by Karma Nabulsi in 2009 to describe attacks on Palestinian scholars, students, and educational institutions, and which now includes the recent bombing and destruction of every Palestinian university in Gaza. Our university is complicit in this violence and erasure. 


Through the Israel Innovation Project (IIP), Northwestern collaborates with Israeli academic institutions in the areas of biology, computer science, artificial intelligence, and engineering. Due to the strong relationship between the IDF and Israeli academia, such technological advancements contribute to the strengthening of the Israeli military-industrial complex and its capacity for surveillance and oppression of Palestinians. 


Furthermore, Northwestern has chosen to actively participate in the production of propaganda and misinformation. The IIP constantly operates beyond its stated mission of scientific cooperation –“to advance Northwestern’s technological and scientific partnerships with Israeli institutions of higher learning”– and acts instead as a mouthpiece of the Israeli government. It sponsored the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema, an event that openly promotes Zionist propaganda; and it routinely platforms Zionist officials, such as former Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who directly denied Israeli responsibility for the safety of civilians in Gaza, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose stated solution to the “demographic problem” is to “minimize the number of Palestinians.” Given the International Court of Justice’s preliminary ruling on the matter of genocide in Gaza, Northwestern University could be found guilty by association as a public relations partner of the settler colony of Israel.



ESCAPING ACCOUNTABILITY


Finally, in spite of its formal commitment to UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, the university withholds public access to its investments, thereby evading accountability from its community, student, and staff stakeholders. Without the university ever disclosing its investments or those of its investment managers, we cannot hold the administration accountable. The Board of Trustees even goes so far as to state that “on very rare occasions, a continued investment may be so morally reprehensible, such as investments that directly support slavery, apartheid, or genocide, that such investment would necessitate the University’s divestment.” Echoing the Board of Trustees’ own commitments, we do not consent to the misuse of university resources for morally reprehensible investments. We, the true stewards of this institution, have a right to know that our tuition and labor are not being invested to fund companies that materially support the genocide and dispossession of Palestinians. 


Signed,


NU Educators for Justice in Palestine

NU Students for Justice in Palestine

NU Jewish Voice for Peace 

Do Not Ban Protest at NU

Note: A version of this appeared in the Daily Northwestern on April 25, 2024. A full list of faculty signatories can be found here. Sign the letter here


April 23, 2024

Dear President Schill and Provost Hagerty,

Northwestern’s University Mission declares its commitment to encourage debate; champion access, diversity, and belonging; strengthen our community; and care about one another. Northwestern Student Affairs pledges to uphold a commitment to social justice; confront practices that inhibit equity and justice; seek first to listen and understand; be curious and open to learning; and ask questions instead of ascribing intent.

We, the undersigned Northwestern faculty of different backgrounds and political viewpoints, come together in support of these principles and in the firm belief that the university will violate its own commitments if it were to take any action to block our students’ rights to peaceful speech, assembly, and dissent.

This is a historic moment in which students across the country and around the world are voicing what they want their universities to be and do in terms of policies, ethics, partnerships, and finances. These students’ visions are based in an informed understanding of our collective well-being and, oftentimes, in a principled objection to that which impedes it. As Northwestern affirms, students have a right to ask questions. Northwestern’s vision statements require us to listen and engage with respect. The university will fail in its most basic promises and commitments if it moves to shut down student gatherings rather than open spaces for transparent and serious discussion.

Northwestern has a long history of successful student protest and strikes dating back to the 1960s. The students who are engaging in protests today are upholding and strengthening that proud tradition. Should the current administration choose to stand in their way, it will be on the wrong side of history.

We return to Northwestern’s pledge to “ask questions instead of ascribing intent.” We will not tolerate the weaponization of unfounded presumptions of bigotry to smear and silence students who are not engaging in anything of the sort. And as educators, we will not stand for the criminalization of peaceful protest on our campus.

No Innovation in Genocide

Note: A version of this appeared in the Daily Northwestern on April 18, 2024, under a different headline and without links to our references. 


Dear Northwestern University,

We write as a group of concerned Northwestern community members—undergraduate students, graduate workers, faculty, librarians and staff. It has come to our attention that through NU’s Israel Innovation Project, our University is an active co-sponsor of the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema.

Through this choice, NU joins sponsors with direct ties to the state of Israel and becomes complicit in advancing the long-standing military occupation of Palestine, ongoing dispossession of an Indigenous people and horrific genocidal violence.

The sponsorship of this festival does not align with the mission of the Israel Innovation Project which, as stated on its website, is “to advance Northwestern’s technological and scientific partnerships with Israeli institutions of higher learning.” We are, thus, concerned about the danger of institutional overreach, and we worry that this partnership is mobilized to propagandistic ends.

The Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema screenings and events are being used to galvanize unquestioning support for Israel’s war on Gaza and the normalization of Israeli life and Zionist migration to the occupied lands of Palestine.

This cultural event includes works that promote narratives of Israel as a space of self-actualization for Zionists, leaving aside the inconvenient truth that such dreams are actualized upon the corpses, lands and dreams of indigenous Palestinians.

As noted by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, Israel not only uses state, military, scholarly and other overt means of enforcing the ongoing occupation of Palestine. It also uses culture “as a form of propaganda to whitewash or justify its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid,” according to the BDS Movement website.

As many scholars of imperialism have noted, culture has been consistently used by settler colonial forces to refine, elevate and normalize oppressive regimes. The Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema engages in this very use of culture to galvanize support for Israel amid illegal land theft, weaponized and intentional mass starvation, apartheid and genocide.

The Israel Innovation Project’s mission of partnering with Israeli universities solidifies NU’s complicity with an apartheid regime.

As Maya Wind details in her book, “Towers of Ivory and Steel: How Israeli Universities Deny Palestinian Freedom,” “all eight [Israeli] universities operate in direct service of the state and serve critical functions in sustaining its policies … (and) actively sustain Israeli settler colonialism, military occupation and apartheid, as well as their own complicity in the ongoing violation of Palestinian rights as recognized under international law.”

For decades, Israel and its universities have enacted “scholasticide,” a term coined by Karma Nabulsi in 2009 to describe attacks on Palestinian scholars, students and educational institutions, and which now includes the recent bombing and destruction of every Palestinian university in Gaza.

NU’s collaborations with Israeli universities through the Israel Innovation Project are in the areas of biology, computer science, artificial intelligence and engineering. Such technological advancements contribute to the strengthening of the Israeli military industrial complex and its capacity for surveillance and oppression of Palestinians.

Furthermore, the IIP aims to promote and enhance Israel’s water technologies and infrastructure. Meanwhile, since Oct. 7, Palestinians remain unable to access clean, desalinated water. Even before that date, Amnesty International documented that Israel prevented Palestinians from drilling new water wells and installing water pumps.

Israel has even made it illegal for Palestinians to collect rainwater. Indeed, while Israel’s water innovation is advanced by NU, such innovation elides and is built upon a long history of closing and contaminating Palestinian water sources while continuing to actively use water as a weapon of war.

We are gravely concerned about NU’s complicity with a decades-old and ongoing genocide, with the most far-reaching social, cultural, scholarly, environmental and political dimensions.

The mission of the Israel Innovation Project cannot be reconciled with that of Northwestern’s guiding principles, especially championing “access, diversity, and belonging,” while at the same time supporting the dehumanization of Palestinians and bolstering support for and collaboration with an apartheid state.

Given the festival’s primary function as propaganda in the service of the Israeli state, we call on NU to divest from the Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema moving forward. We urge the University to cancel all future affiliation with the festival and to publicly denounce its past involvement. We extend our demand beyond this incident, calling on NU to dissolve the Israel Innovation Project and its associated partnerships.

Let us, as a community, innovate for peace, justice, and liberation — no innovation in

genocide!

Signed,

NU Educators for Justice in Palestine

NU Students for Justice in Palestine

NU Jewish Voice for Peace 

Events

Along with NU EJP events and actions, this calendar lists events happening on campus related to Palestinian history, culture, arts, activism, and more. To have an event added, please email northwestern.ejp@gmail.com