Concordia Alumni Letter in Solidarity with Palestinians

File graphic Carl Bindman

To President Graham Carr and the Concordia University Board of Governors,

We, as Concordia University Alumni, are writing this letter to demand that Concordia University take a principled stand on one of the most urgent issues of our time—the ongoing and escalating genocide of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli state.

Since October 7, the Israeli state—which human rights organizations across the world, including inside Israel, recognize as an apartheid state—has engaged in a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing in Gaza. Like any ethnic cleansing campaign, this has also included the targeting of cultural and educational institutions such as schools and universities. The Israeli occupation forces have bombed the Islamic University of Gaza and the al-Azhar University, reducing both to rubble. As of November 4, the United Nations reported that Israel had damaged or destroyed over half of all schools in Gaza. Such numbers are almost certainly significantly worse today.

This latest escalation—which genocide scholars argue is “a textbook case of genocide”—is made possible by the complicity of Israeli academic institutions in developing weapons and surveillance technology, engaging in historical revisionism, and building legal and ethical justifications for Israel’s crimes. They are an essential part of the material and theoretical infrastructure of dispossession in Palestine.

As such, we support the call, articulated by Palestinian academics and civil society organizations, to engage in an academic boycott of Israel. Just as the academic boycott of apartheid South Africa contributed to the liberation of Black South Africans, our academic institutions have a role to play in winning freedom for Palestinians today. It is only through Palestinian freedom that peace in the region becomes possible.

We demand:

  • That Concordia University release a statement standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine, including academics and universities, as they face genocide at the hands of Israel. That statement must include a clear demand for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, as well as an end to Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestine. 
  • That Concordia University publicly commit to ending all collaboration with Israeli academic institutions, including terminating its Memorandum of Understanding with Bar Ilan University. 
  • That Concordia University immediately and permanently suspend its Summer in Israel program, its Field School in Israel, the Goldie and Joe Raymer Travel Fellowship, the Naim Mehlab Student Travel Award, and any other internal programs which facilitate and incentivize exchange with Israeli academic institutions. We specifically support students activists' calls to end Concordia's Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies field school, “Constructing the Israeli Identities,” in collaboration with Bar-Ilan University. The program facilitates touring of colonized areas and the sanitization of apartheid with a university that collaborates with the Israeli army to develop weapon technology.
  • That Concordia university’s financial holdings divest from any investments that directly OR indirectly fund the Israeli occupation, most notably: BlackRock, who are major investors in weapons manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Northropp Grumman, and Bank of Montreal, who provided a $90 million loan to weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems in 2021. 
  • That Concordia University immediately cease any investigations into students for engaging in Palestine solidarity activism, and apologize to Palestinian students for slandering their activism.
  • That Concordia University create a publicly-accessible task force to monitor its progress on implementing the academic boycott, and that such a task force include elected representatives from the student body—including the Concordia Student Union and Palestinian organizations on campus.

In short, we demand that the Concordia administration show the courage and leadership that this moment demands of us. Will this university continue its tacit support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing, or will it say enough is enough? When your children ask you, decades from now, what you did in this moment to prevent the unthinkable from happening, will you be able to answer them?

The Link endorses this letter and urges all Concordia alumni to sign it

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 8, published January 16, 2024.