Gallatin’s Failure to Protect Pro-Palestine Voices

Gallatin’s Failure to Protect Pro-Palestine Voices


I am writing this article anonymously, at a dangerous moment in academia where students and faculty are censored, doxxed, blacklisted, and threatened for taking a public stance on Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Student groups from major institutions including Columbia, Harvard, and NYU have come under fire for their statements in support of Palestinian liberation. An electronic billboard truck has been roaming Columbia’s campus displaying the names and faces of pro-Palestine students with the caption “Columbia’s Leading Antisemites.” Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution slandering students for promoting “antisemitism” and “expressing solidarity with terrorists.” It named NYU twice.

The entire political establishment has given its blessing to an ongoing campaign to permanently brand and blacklist all opponents of the unfolding genocide in Gaza. In addition to numerous accounts of physical threats and harassment, this movement has also seen calls from corporate firms and CEOs to blacklist pro-Palestine students from employment wherever possible. 

This is not a new phenomenon. Many major institutions have become increasingly entangled with the military-industrial complex and its interests.

In fact, NYU has developed into a nexus connecting academia, the Democratic Party, corporate interests, and the state security apparatus. Since the end of the Cold War, it has been tightly woven into the US imperial machine through a variety of institutions, trustees, and professors.

NYU was one of the first universities to embrace the collaboration between academia and the state during the “War on Terror.” In 2004, the university was one of the founding members of the Homeland Security-Homeland Defense Education Consortium (HSDECA) and deepened ties with the Bush administration. During the U.S.-backed civil wars in Libya and Syria, NYU opened the “Constance Milstein and Family Global Academic Center” just blocks from the White House.

In fact, our Board of Trustees epitomizes the unholy marriage between the military-industrial complex and NYU. This esteemed list includes BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink and 6 trustees who also sit on the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a historical locus for war criminals and imperialist strategists.

For years, NYU has played an important role in the campaign to falsely equate opposition to Israel’s war crimes and apartheid regime with “antisemitism.” This month, two students from NYU removed posters on campus that showed Israeli hostages. A torrent of right-wing misinformation was released against the students after they were doxxed. In response, NYU declared that it would possibly take “disciplinary action” against the students. The University is pursuing disciplinary procedures against the president of the Student Bar Association at NYU Law, Ryna Workman, for their statement of solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Even my most radically decolonial peers are extremely jaded when it comes to our foreign policy. Born after the invasion of Iraq, we have grown up alongside pro-war propaganda and have seen the way institutions are integral in upholding the U.S. imperialist project. Therefore it did not come as a surprise when the NYU administration remained silent on the U.S.-backed ethnic cleansing of Palestine and our own institution’s tacit support for it.  

Despite the fact that NYU’s administration has been complicit in the ongoing campus censorship campaign, the Israeli government and U.S. political establishment have accosted NYU for not reigning in campus opposition to the geopolitical interests of the ruling class. Trustees, donors, and alumni have already begun to withdraw funding from many top universities in an effort to suppress political dialogue.

Gallatin is not exempt from this financial pressure, yet it is uniquely positioned to speak out on how this conflict has impacted its core mission. Gallatin emphasizes a critical global worldview, has many classes in postcolonial studies, and has just this month announced their role in opening up a Center for Indigenous Studies at NYU. Many Gallatin professors have signed a statement, in which hundreds of NYU faculty expressed “solidarity with [the] students, at an urgent moment of U.S.- backed state violence against a colonized, dispossessed and brutalized population.” Many Gallatinos have been at the forefront of organizing protests and are quick to point out the hypocrisy of NYU’s statements.

Thus far, statements issued by the University have reaffirmed their empty commitments to free speech and inclusion. The Kalven Report was written in 1967 in response to campus divisions during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, and it lays out a clear vision for the role of a university during times like this. Indeed, it is usually not the responsibility of a university to take sides in political conflicts in order to foster a climate of open discussion. As the report lays out, however, there are undoubtedly exceptions when the issue in question impedes the university’s core mission—especially when it includes student censorship, government research grants, foreign student visa restrictions, and corporate incentives for university leadership.

Rampant censorship and intimidation have become a major issue in the everyday lives of many in the Gallatin community. Adjunct professors have confessed to me that they are worried about career repercussions for simply starting discussions about the occupation of Palestine in their Gallatin seminars. Student organizers have expressed that they are constantly worried about being doxxed and feel betrayed by Gallatin for its lack of solidarity. Many Gallatin students and faculty are listed on an online “antisemitism list” that serves to functionally blacklist and dox members of academia from major industries for the crime of supporting the Palestinian’s right to political justice. One Gallatin community member informed me that they had been denied both housing and job applications because they were listed on this website. I have chosen not to link this website because it would only drive up its placement on search results, further endangering members of our community.

Gallatin can no longer hide behind a smokescreen of free speech and institutional neutrality. This issue has ultimately prevented Gallatin from completing its core mission and our school has a moral responsibility to practice what we preach. This university as a whole is at a critical juncture, and the Gallatin administration must immediately show solidarity with our community. If not, it will jeopardize the atmosphere of discourse that our liberal arts school requires to thrive.




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