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THE MONITOR

  • Multiple Authors

An Open Letter to David Wippman, the President of Hamilton College

We represent a growing voice of students who are calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. We are dissatisfied with your silence regarding this matter. Our goal with this open letter is to bring attention to what has been omitted from official statements released through Hamilton College communications. 


As of April 19, 2024, Israel has killed 34,012 Palestinians and injured around 76,833 Palestinians. According to recent estimates, 70% of victims are women and children. This count does not include people who are still buried under the rubble. It also doesn’t cover deaths that have occurred from disease, lack of adequate medical treatment, and famine. Furthermore, the healthcare system in Gaza is collapsing under the rising toll of civilian casualties amidst Israel's destruction of all hospitals in Gaza. The 12 out of 36 hospitals partially functioning are buckling under the sheer number of incoming deceased, wounded, sick, starving, and orphaned people.


The IDF has driven 1.5 million people into Rafah, a small town bordering Egypt. Israel is blocking aid in the form of food, water, and fuel, which is a war crime. Those in Rafah are displaced, vulnerable, and desperate civilians taking refuge in tents and struggling to find sustenance. Although the UN Security Council has demanded a temporary ceasefire, Israeli forces continue to militarily advance in Gaza and threaten to do so in Rafah. 


Israel’s military hostility would not be possible without the U.S.’s financial, political and military aid. Since 1948, the U.S. has supported the Israeli military with a total of $216,000,000,000, making Israel the highest cumulative recipient of U.S. aid. Since October 7th, President Biden has bypassed Congress at least twice to authorize weapons sales to Israel; this aid amounts to $253,500,000 of heavy artillery. Recently, on March 30, the Biden administration signed off more weapons for Israel’s military. All of this aid comes from American taxpayers. To put this in the perspective and context of Hamilton's surrounding community, New Hartford taxpayers have contributed an estimated $340,179 tax dollars, and Utica taxpayers have contributed an estimated $883,523 tax dollars in military funds to Israel. Instead of funding public services like health and education that benefit US taxpayers, our money is supporting Israel’s war on Palestinians. 


The Biden Administration has not materially retracted support. It continues to aid and enable Israel’s excessive use of violence against Palestinians. Israeli officials have demonstrated no intention to abide by the recent ceasefire resolution passed by the UN Security Council. Israel is comfortably acting with impunity because the U.S. has vetoed past ceasefire resolutions and now insists that the new resolution is “non-binding”. Thus, the United States is complicit in granting Israel immunity from international accountability. 


In line with Hamilton College's mission statement of active citizenship, it is our duty as members of the Hamilton College community to take action regarding current political matters. We cannot, as critical thinkers and scholars at this institution, remain silent while our tax dollars fund war crimes. The Hamilton community is complicit in maintaining the status quo with regards to U.S. foreign and domestic policies. We cannot remain silent when the outcome of this tragedy depends on the strength of our collective political will. 


In a recent statement, President Michael S. Roth of Wesleyan University said that leaders in the academic world have a moral and pressing obligation to call for a ceasefire as long as their institutions pay taxes to the U.S. government—taxes that go towards manufacturing this humanitarian crisis. The American Association of University Professors amongst other education unions have also signed in support of the American labor movement’s call to Joe Biden and Congress, urging them to push for an immediate ceasefire. Just this week, over 1,700 academics have signed and released an open letter calling for a ceasefire. As the voices within academia grow louder in their calls for ceasefire, all we hear is your deafening silence. Most institutions of higher learning in Gaza have been reduced to rubble; as an elite liberal arts college, we especially have a duty to speak out against the further tragic and irreparable loss of academia in Palestine. In Roth's words: “silence at a time of humanitarian catastrophe isn’t neutrality; it’s either cowardice or collaboration. We don’t need institution-speak, but we do need leaders of academic and cultural institutions to call on our government and our fellow citizens to address this crisis.”


President Wippman: You have omitted the widespread destruction, violence, and famine that people are currently facing in Gaza from your institutional statements and emails. Your silence reduces tens of thousands of Palestinian lives to mere collateral. Your passive rhetoric echoes and perpetuates the dehumanization of Middle Eastern people, sending a message to those on campus that Palestinian civilian lives are worth less than others and not worth speaking out about. A failure to press for a ceasefire on campus is an indictment of the very values this institution claims to stand for: a commitment to promoting diversity and fighting against systemic bigotry. 


In this letter, we have outlined the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel’s violent disregard for the safety and wellbeing of Palestinians, the complicity of the United States in granting Israel immunity from international accountability, and the funding from U.S. taxpayers to support Israel’s war against Gaza.


We condemn the excessive, unjustified, and indiscriminate violence employed by the Israeli state against all Palestinians. It is a clear violation of international law to inflict collective punishment against a civilian population for the crimes of a few. 


We call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.


We demand that President David Wippman make a statement acknowledging the scale of devastation faced by the Palestinian people, and call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. A stance taken now by the college has the power to resonate with those in the local and national community—we have an opportunity and an obligation as well-educated representatives of this school to create positive change.


We will continue to speak out about the struggle of the Palestinian people and the U.S.’s complicity in Israel’s actions until a permanent ceasefire is achieved. 


Free Palestine,

Students for Justice in Palestine

Survivors Making Activism and Radical Transformation

The Green Apple

Climate Justice Coalition

Feminists of Color Collective

Black and Latine Student Union

Muslim Students Association


This open letter was presented to President David Wippman on the 19th of April. Persons or organizations that wish to sign under this letter are welcome to contact hsjp@hamilton.edu.

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