We Call for a Ceasefire: An Open Letter to Our Hamilton Community
This letter highlights the concerns of several student organization executive board members regarding the ongoing crisis in Israel and Palestine, calling for a more informed campus and political action. As we navigate these contentious issues together, our commitment as College organizations is to foster inclusivity, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the global hardships that we face today.
To reach that commitment, it is necessary to call attention to the growing humanitarian crisis that Palestinian children, women, and men are facing due to the actions of the Israeli government, financially supported by the United States government.
Since Prime Minister Netanyahu’s declaration of war, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) airstrikes and assaults have killed over 11,000 Palestinians and injured a further 27,000 people (tolls internationally regarded as reliable). In Gaza, at least 4,500 children are dead–children including Saly, age 5, Mahmoud Dahdouh, age 16, and Kenan & Neman al-Sharif, just 18 months old. In the West Bank, settler-related violence claimed the lives of over 40 children.
In the words of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), “Gaza has become a graveyard for children… It’s a living hell for everyone else.”
As Netanyahu’s government tightens its 16-year siege on Gaza into an almost total blockade, vital humanitarian aid, which 80% of Gazans depend on, is a matter of life and death. Food, water, and electricity are desperately low. The destruction and damage to 45% of Gaza’s housing units has left 1.5 million Gazans internally displaced.
Many human rights organizations fear that the Israeli government’s recent actions are violating international laws and considered war crimes. In addition, longer-standing policies against Palestinians are being described by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B'Tselem as consistent with apartheid.
Further, Craig Mokhiber, former director of the New York office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Raz Segal, writing for Jewish Currents, among other experts, and over 800 other academics, warn that Palestinians are at risk of a crime of genocide by the Israeli government.
International organizations have also rightfully called for accountability for several abhorrent war crimes committed by Hamas and other militant groups, including killing over 1,400 Israeli children, women, and men on October 7th and holding over 240 civilians hostages, including children.
For these reasons, we join the call of the United Nations, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, Movement for Black Lives, International Women’s Network Against Militarism, 700 other organizations, 300 artists, tens of thousands of Americans who marched in Washington DC, and 66% of American voters for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire by all parties involved in Israel/Palestine.
Nationwide, we are witnessing an increase in bigotry of all forms. We want to call attention to the rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism at Hamilton as well. As a campus community, we pledge to work together to ensure a safer and more inclusive environment, one where Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim, and Arab members have equal support and resources from the College and our community during and after this unprecedented time.
We must also work together to distinguish and separate the political conversation of this crisis from the identities of community members affected. Being Jewish or Israeli should not be equated with supporting Zionism, just as being Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian should not be equated with supporting Hamas.
Speech and advocacy grounded in political perspectives should be protected. Targeting or attacking members of our community based on their identities must never be tolerated.
We mourn the deaths of all innocents. We condemn any form of discrimination that has arisen from the current conflict. We assert that both Palestinians and Israelis–and, more broadly, all nationalities and confessions–have the right to live. We hope for a solution that will bring lasting, just peace and genuine security to everyone who calls the region home.
We cannot cross until we carry each other,
all of us refugees, all of us prophets.
No more taking turns on history’s wheel,
trying to collect old debts no-one can pay.
The sea will not open that way.
This time that country
is what we promise each other,
our rage pressed cheek to cheek
until tears flood the space between,
until there are no enemies left,
because this time no one will be left to drown
and all of us must be chosen.
This time it’s all of us or none.
Signed by 36 executive board members of the following organizations,
Black and Latine Student Union
Center for Intersectional Feminism
Feminists of Color Collective*
Gender & Sexuality Union*
Hamilton Young Democratic Socialists of America*
Muslim Student Association*
Shenandoah Kirkland Initiative*
Survivors Making Activism and Radical Transformation*
Voices of Color Lecture Series*
* Signed unanimously by the respective e-board
If you or your organization are interested in signing on to the open letter, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to update this letter with your organization’s name. This submitted article, like all opinion pieces, represents the views of signatories alone.