In response to the humanitarian appeal of the University of Birzeit in Palestine , the Edward Said Free Chair of Palestinian Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, pronounces: it is necessary to break the explanatory frameworks that silence the massacre .

We appeal to sanity and justice. In the care of humanity itself. It is disheartening to know that a subjectivity has been imposed on us where the lives of Palestinians do not deserve to be mourned; Their human condition is called into question, enabling barbarism: understanding them as savages paves the way to exert systematic oppression on them outside of all morality.

How do we conceive it possible not to state that the population of the Gaza Strip has been left without a water supply? Should collective punishments of the civilian population be considered legitimate when carried out by those who have the most power? How much more can boys and girls endure whose daily walk, since they were born, takes place under the threat of a lurking death?

Nothing justifies attacking the civilian population of any territory. No geographical, political or religious border should become a humanities dividing line.

We experience with great sadness the passing of the prevailing irrationality.

Will the cries of pain continue to go unheard? Will our common sense continue to allow us to overlook the images we constantly receive of children pulled from the rubble? Why don’t their lives matter? Why must Palestinian mothers suffer the heartbreak of knowing that the names written on their children’s limbs will ensure they are buried next to them?

There are countless cases of small bodies that lie carried by adults, who see their walking paced by inert little arms. What trait of humanity is left if we normalize this? We should ask ourselves what societies we have built when the prevailing discourse manages to turn a systematic, bloody and vengeful killing into a mere act of “defense”…

Whoever has the power of narration dictates, reorders and circulates the meanings. The symbolic violence with which the events are reported is devastating. “Legitimate defense” is equivalent to having permission to devastate the population of the Gaza Strip without any international organization being able to stop the massacre. Being called “human animals” places Palestinians in a category of sub-humanity and presents war crimes, leaving the entire Gazan people without water, food, medicine, light or humanitarian assistance, as part of a simple military strategy. What paths has humanity taken to not cry out at this? How does the mainstream media continue to remain silent about the true significance of this extermination? How can it be legitimate to leave two million people without the possibility of life? Is the difference in reacting in the time it takes for the action? Would shooting two million people be unacceptable and killing thousands and making the lives of the rest a living hell, is it feasible

The Palestinian population called to move from northern Gaza, where are they going to go? Thousands walking for what? To be killed in the next precarious abode? The systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people for 75 years is presented as part of a “conflict”: “they do it, we respond.” We should know that the only sin of the Palestinians is to exist. They are repressed, imprisoned, humiliated, and killed, for the mere fact of being in their land.

The Caesars of world geopolitics have left Palestine alone. Abandoned; as if the essential norms of International Law did not apply in that region of the world. Hamas committed war crimes. No buts, no justifications. Exclusively rejecting those actions makes us human beings, people capable of feeling the pain of our fellow human beings. At the same time, it is necessary to return again and again to the context of colonial dispossession and illegal occupation that has accompanied the Palestinian population for decades; This understanding is the only conceptual tool we have to find a way out of so much degradation of the human condition. Intolerable events have an abominable context that surrounds them.

The Israeli armed forces have used those attacks as justification to continue and infinitely strengthen their oppression of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The State of Israel commits crimes against humanity. The vengeance unleashed on the civilian population is unspeakable: the number of victims is overwhelming, the thousands of murdered children leave all of humanity breathless, the destroyed health and educational infrastructure predicts an unliveable Gaza, what civilizational feature does all this have? Is it not barbarism itself?

The abominable terms with which the systematic slaughter is presented are overwhelming. A racist State, which understands some human beings as having more rights than others, whose army is one of the best equipped in the world, advances on the defenseless population of Gaza. Planes, tanks and bombs on bodies that have nowhere to hide. The excuse is to demand justice and revenge for the crimes carried out by a group of armed militiamen: we must find them, destroy them, avenge the deaths, rescue hostages. Meanwhile, above ground, the Israeli army annihilates the lives of thousands of civilians. Impunity is total. The omnipresence, complete. Everything is covered, explained and justified by unleashed anger. How close is humanity to the dogmatic and essentialist explanations that blind freedom of thought?

How rational is the behavior of the highest authorities of the State of Israel? Compelling the entire population of northern Gaza to leave their homes in view of a ferocious retaliation on the territory, is it an act of thinking minds or is it unbridled fury, the legitimization of collective punishment? If no place is safe, if moving to other areas does not distance us from barbarism, if nothing guarantees that a bomb will not fall in the hospital where the displaced family takes refuge… Why isn’t it named what it is? A new ethnic cleansing is being carried out in Gaza; The truth prevails: another generation of displaced people, the land repeatedly devastated, the possibility of returning, annulled. Who will take over that portion of conquered land? How much more unliveable will life become for Palestinians?

All of Gaza is cut off. The State of Israel destroyed the infrastructure that would allow the tragedies that are happening there to be demonstrated. Why doesn’t the international community reject this abuse of information? How is it possible to justify to the world the mantle of darkness that was placed on the Palestinians? Don’t their lives deserve to be narrated? Human beings who have been locked up for 17 years, hostage to the oppressive and dehumanizing policies of the State of Israel, have now lost the possibility of communicating with the outside world. Everything that happens at this moment, in every moment, every night in Gaza, is overshadowed for us. What purposes does isolation serve? What civilizational limit will the executioners be crossing when they need to hide their death tolls?

Not only the Occupied Palestinian Territories must be decolonized. We must also decolonize the minds that understand such savagery presented as a legitimate defense as possible.

The tearing suffered by the Palestinian people will weigh on the conscience of humanity. We appeal to the academic community and the entire civil society: remaining distant and silent in the face of the ongoing genocide would make us complicit in human degradation.

Edward Said Free Chair of Palestinian Studies.
November 2023