As a feminist organization committed to intersectional and global justice throughout history reaching to the present, the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship joins other academic organizations in calling for an immediate and permanent bilateral ceasefire in the region. In doing so, we recommit ourselves to principles of academic freedom, supporting the voices of those who mourn Palestinian and Israeli lives and call for justice for the Palestinian people.
Since October 7, 2023, when Hamas militants attacked and massacred 1,200 Israelis, Israel has killed over 20,000 Palestinians, at least 8,000 of whom are children and 6,000 of whom are women, and displaced more than 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. People in Gaza are now living without regular access to food or clean water, and are subject to frequent information blockades through the cutting of cell phone and internet service. According to the World Health Organization, the entire population of Gaza, or 2.2 million people, is facing crisis levels of hunger, with at least 1 in 4 households facing catastrophic conditions. Crucially, the Israeli assault on Gaza has been paid for by US tax dollars with US-made weapons. The US sends 3.8 billion dollars a year of military assistance to Israel, and since Oct 7, 2023 an additional $14.3billion. We support the UN’s calls to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid, avoid collective punishment, and secure the immediate release of all hostages.
Following UN experts, we also are concerned with state suppression of solidarity with the victims in the continuing crisis. We reiterate the High Commissioner’s call for an end to the surging Islamophobia and antisemitism and urge the creation of a safe environment for expressing solidarity with the victims, noting “It is especially in times of conflicts and war that we need to uphold the universality of human rights.” (see https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/11/speaking-out-gaza-israel-must-be-allowed-un-experts)
We write on behalf of an international organization, many of whose members have close personal and professional connections with this region now traumatized by war. As medievalists, we understand how medieval history in particular has been co-opted and misused to support both antisemitic and Islamophobic ideologies. We condemn such distortions of the past and dedicate ourselves to truth, transparency, and justice, understanding that peace and open dialogue across differences are precursors to a robust and liberatory education. As a feminist organization, we, above all, call for a permanent bilateral ceasefire to be enacted, putting an end to the ongoing conflict.