Open Letter to Rice University: Stand in Solidarity with Palestine

RICE SJP Statement on Palestine 10/20/2023

We express deep mourning, offer prayers ( الله يرحم), and extend our unwavering support to our Palestinian friends, family, and community in acknowledgement of the devastating losses they have endured in their people’s struggle for liberation.

Over the last week alone, the Israeli Occupation has murdered over 3,000 Palestinians—including over 1,500 children—in its continued assault on Gaza. Over 1,400 Palestinians, including 720 children, are presently buried under rubble. The number of Palestinians wounded exceeds 10,000, with over 2,000 hospitalized. More than one million Palestinians have been displaced. This, in its current totality, amounts to a quarter of a nuclear bomb being dropped on Gaza by Israeli forces.We denounce the Israeli Occupation’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

In this onslaught on Palestinian life, the Israeli Occupation has added to its list of human rights violations by bombarding Gaza and Lebanon with white phosphorus gas, by bombing ambulances, by leveling entire residential buildings, by targeting civilians and residential infrastructure. The Israeli Occupation has bombed crossings in and out of Gaza, taken out telecommunications lines, and further isolated and cut off Palestinians from the rest of the world. Food, water, electricity and medical supplies have been completely cut off from Gaza as the Israeli Occupation has declared a total blockade on the area.

Earlier this week, the Baptist Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City was bombed by Israel, which killed over 500 Palestinians at once. Shortly thereafter, Israel bombed the 2,000 year-old Greek Orthodox Church, Saint Porphyrius—where nearly 400 Christians and Muslims were seeking shelter; 18 people were killed, including several children. Palestinians have had to endure the harrowing reality that nowhere is safe for decades.

We denounce these reprehensible and devastating attacks and the Israeli Occupation’s collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

We affirm the right of Palestinians to exist on their own land and to resist genocide. We understand the assault on Palestinians as existing within the broader historical context of settler-colonialism in Palestine, carried out by settlers and soldiers alike.

In the past week, thousands of innocent lives have been lost, but it is important to emphasize that this violence did not begin a week ago. It began with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land in 1948 and the years before. Since then, the Israeli Occupation has continued to act with impunity, even towards its own citizens.

We condemn the hateful rhetoric espoused by leading figures, media representatives and politicians in the West, advocating for the genocide of Palestinian people, terming them “human animals”, and calling for the siege of Gaza. As a collective, we push back against these dehumanizing tropes and narratives that erase Palestinian suffering and villify Palestinian existence.

We especially express our disappointment at the recent statements released by the Office of the President, which present a one-sided narrative and fail to acknowledge Israel's violent assault on Palestine. Instead of condemning the State of Israel’s bombardment on Gaza—the largest, densest open-air prison in the world—the Office of the President vaguely alludes to “many enduring distressing violence.”

This lack of care is particularly distressing in light of the recent anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate crime that took place in Chicago on October 13th, in which a 6 year-old child was brutally murdered and his mother stabbed by their landlord, who expressed explicit support for the State of Israel’s actions against Palestinian people.

We call on Rice University to denounce this act, and to stand firmly against anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian sentiment, as it has already rightly expressed standing against antisemitism and racism—and as recent events have left Arab, Palestinian, Muslim, and even pro-Palestine members of our community in a heightened state of apprehension and danger.

We call upon academics who teach about decolonization and racism in their classrooms, students who have spent countless hours learning the history of revolutionary moments, and bystanders who have the voice of the masses: We ask that you approach liberation as material, and that you take part in action beyond journal papers, essays, and rhetorical arguments. We call upon you to join the struggle for Palestinian liberation and stand firmly in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their resistance against 75+ years of colonization.

We invite the Rice community, and the Houston community more broadly, to join us on Saturday, 10/21, at 2:00 p.m. for a protest at the City Hall to demand an end to Israel’s ongoing genocide of Gaza. We also extend an invitation to the community to support humanitarian aid into Gaza on Sunday, 10/22, at 1:00 p.m. at the Arab American Cultural & Community Center.

We invite any and all members of the Rice community, the Houston community, and the international community more broadly, to sign onto our statement in support of Palestine. While individual signatures are anonymous, organizations and groups may contact us to have their name(s) appear publicly.

May Palestine be free in our lifetime, and may we imagine a better world.  

In Solidarity,

Rice University Students for Justice in Palestine (Rice SJP)

Anakbayan Houston

Rice Taiwanese Association

Rice Muslim Student Association (Rice MSA)

The Rice Marxists

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Rice SJP
Houston, Texas