The faculty in the Department of Feminist Studies are unflinching lovers of freedom and proud members of the collectives at UCSB fighting for Palestinian liberation and an end to the genocide in Gaza.  While the University of California has responded to this organizing with numerous attacks on free speech and right to assembly, UCSB students and faculty have demonstrated that the urgency of the unfolding genocide in Palestine and the strength of our movement are greater than these tactics to silence us.  

Long before October 7, 2023, UCSB’s Students for Justice in Palestine has worked tirelessly and at considerable risk to call for divestment, organize the annual Apartheid Wall at UCSB, and build a broad-based student movement for Palestinian liberation. UCSB student leaders have done the long and slow work of building an intersectional resistance movement based in grief, love of liberation, and trust of one another.  The Department of Feminist Studies recognizes, and follows the leadership of, 17 student organizations bravely working together to uplift Palestinian liberation and call for a ceasefire.

The Department of Feminist Studies also consists of members of Academics for Justice in Palestine (AJP), a collective of UCSB faculty from across multiple departments, including Palestinian faculty at UCSB, that was formed in solidarity with student efforts.  On November 1 2023, Feminist Studies posted a statement opposing militarization, settler-colonial occupations, and ongoing ethnic genocides around the world and endorsing the op-ed “Who Is a Civilian: The War on Palestine” written by UCSB faculty Walid Adel Afifi, Tamara Afifi, Ralph Armbruster, Felice Blake, Julie Carlson, Charmaine Chua, Bishnupriya Ghosh, Lisa Hajjar, Lisa Park, David Pellow, Laila Shereen Sakr, Sherene Seikaly, Jennifer Tyburczy, Elisabeth Weber.  In the weeks following October 7th, AJP organized multiple teach-ins on the history of Zionism, anti-Semitism, partition and occupation around the world, and the ongoing Nakba, held in packed classrooms on Friday evenings.  On December 8th, 2023, AJP organized a historic public event at IV Theater, Can We Talk About Palestine, at which UCSB faculty members  David Pellow, Bishnu Ghosh, Lisa Sun-Hee Park, Sherene Seikaly, Lisa Hajjar, Jane Ward, and Laila Shereen Sakr spoke about Palestinian liberation through the lenses of environmental and climate justice, speech, life, borders and walls, law, queer liberation, and revolution.

We stand with members of the Feminist Studies Department who have spoken out against Israel’s violence at great personal risk. Following the Hamas attack on October 7th that killed 748 Israeli civilians and the subsequent genocidal response by Israel that has killed over 30,000 Palestinians, UCSB Feminist Studies graduate students joined with other gender and ethnic studies students to pen the UC Statement of Solidarity, contextualizing Israel’s current efforts to destroy and settle Gaza within its 75 year history of violent occupation of Palestine.  Our students were doxxed and harassed, joining several of us in Feminist Studies who have long been subject to doxxing, profiling on “watch lists,” death threats, and news coverage by far-right media intended to incite violence against us as retaliation for our scholarship and speech.  Recognizing the precarity of students, staff, and faculty who dare to speak publicly about Palestine, AJP developed a Responding to Harassment Guide with a comprehensive set of resources for targeted individuals and groups.

Because we recognize that attacks on the academic freedom and safety of one of us is an attack on all of us, the faculty in the Department of Feminist Studies stand in unwavering solidarity and love with our Palestinian colleagues, staff, and students, our colleagues in Sociology who have been repeatedly targeted by Zionists, our colleagues in AJP who have long been featured on Zionist watch lists, our colleagues in Black Studies at UCSB who have received right-wing backlash for standing against the UC silence on the genocide, our colleagues around the world who have been surveilled and punished for speaking up for Palestine, and our colleagues in Gaza who have lost their universities and their lives in what is not only a genocide, but an epistemicide intended to annihilate Palestinian history and thought. 

We stand unequivocally against antisemitism, by which we mean discrimination, stereotypes, and violence directed at Jews because they are Jewish. We stand against efforts to blame Jewish people for the actions of Israel’s government.  At the same time, we follow anti-Zionist Jewish leadership by refusing to conflate critiques of the Israeli government with antisemitism. We stand against antisemitism at the same time that we oppose the political ideology of Zionism that grants rights and freedoms to Jews that are not extended to Palestinians. 

In late February 2024, UCSB shut down the campus Multicultural Center following conflicts between students attending the 10th Annual Social Justice Conference and Zionist students attempting to equate critiques of Zionism with anti-Semitism. UCSB students of color watched as the university administration locked and re-keyed the MCC (a history of the MCC and its purpose, written by AJP members Diane Fujino, Elizabeth Robinson, Felice Blake, and Walid Afifi can be read here).  Palestinian students and others attending the social justice conference were doxxed by far-right conspiracy outlets like Israel War Room, a terrifying experience that has gone unrecognized by UCSB’s Chancellor.

The Feminist Studies Department also stands in solidarity with the Black Studies Department, which has joined these efforts by issuing a bold and mobilizing call for the administration to reopen the MCC and end its attacks on academic freedom.  In March 2024, the Department of Black Studies called for a UCSB Day of Interruption and held a historic teach-in that spoke to the longstanding connections between Black liberation and Palestinian liberation movements around the globe.  We stand, too, with the Chicano Studies Department, which has issued a statement pointing out that UCSB administration should be alarmed “that undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and faculty across UCSB do not consider themselves secure on campus because of their solidarity with the people of Palestine, who are currently undergoing violence, displacement, and starvation by the government of Israel. It is a reminder that the struggle continues.” 

Activist and scholar Rama Salla Dieng, writing on the connections between the Rwandan genocide and the genocide in Palestine, reminds us that: “the current militarised genocide is a political issue, is a feminist issue, is a reproductive justice issue, is an economic issue, is an environmental justice issue, is an agrarian justice issue, is an ethical issue, is a sovereignty issue.” In Feminist Studies, we demand recognition of the ways that genocide has always been a gendered form of atrocity, one that uses sexual violence, attacks on systems of care and social reproduction, and violence directed specifically at mothers and children to destroy human love and connection at its origin. 

Finally, the Department of Feminist Studies stands together in grief. Every week, AJP reads the work of Palestinian poets and their comrades, most of them women poets, in front of the UCSB Library.  We close with the words of the late bisexual Black feminist poet June Jordan, in her 1982 poem about the massacre of Palestinian refugees, “Moving Towards Home,” which was read by Professor Felice Blake on February 28, 2024.

Moving towards Home

June Jordan 

“Where is Abu Fadi,” she wailed.
“Who will bring me my loved one?”
  The New York Times, 9/20/82

I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
Nor do I wish to speak about the nightlong screams
that reached
the observation posts where soldiers lounged about
Nor do I wish to speak about the woman who shoved her baby
into the stranger’s hands before she was led away
Nor do I wish to speak about the father whose sons
were shot
through the head while they slit his own throat before
the eyes
of his wife
Nor do I wish to speak about the army that lit continuous
flares into the darkness so that others could see
the backs of their victims lined against the wall
Nor do I wish to speak about the piled up bodies and
the stench
that will not float
Nor do I wish to speak about the nurse again and
again raped
before they murdered her on the hospital floor
Nor do I wish to speak about the rattling bullets that
did not
halt on that keening trajectory
Nor do I wish to speak about the pounding on the
doors and
the breaking of windows and the hauling of families into
the world of the dead
I do not wish to speak about the bulldozer and the
red dirt
not quite covering all of the arms and legs
because I do not wish to speak about unspeakable events
that must follow from those who dare
“to purify” a people
those who dare
“to exterminate” a people

those who dare
to describe human beings as “beasts with two legs”
those who dare
“to mop up”
“to tighten the noose”
“to step up the military pressure”
“to ring around” civilian streets with tanks
those who dare
to close the universities
to abolish the press
to kill the elected representatives
of the people who refuse to be purified
those are the ones from whom we must redeem
the words of our beginning

because I need to speak about home
I need to speak about living room
where the land is not bullied and beaten into
a tombstone
I need to speak about living room
where the talk will take place in my language
I need to speak about living room
where my children will grow without horror
I need to speak about living room where the men
of my family between the ages of six and sixty-five
are not
marched into a roundup that leads to the grave
I need to talk about living room
where I can sit without grief without wailing aloud
for my loved ones
where I must not ask where is Abu Fadi
because he will be there beside me
I need to talk about living room
because I need to talk about home

I was born a Black woman
and now
I am become a Palestinian
against the relentless laughter of evil
there is less and less living room
and where are my loved ones?

It is time to make our way home.

June Jordan, “Moving Toward Home,” in Living Room: New Poems by June Jordan (New York: Thunder's  Mouth Press, 1993) and reprinted in Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2007)