Since Wellesley was chartered over 150 years ago, each generation of students has found their own way to speak out against the injustices in their time. Time and time again, we are reminded of how our students have always spoken up and fought back against oppression locally and around the world. This opposition was especially relevant when Wellesley itself was complicit in the harm that occurred.
The News first and foremost wants to extend our support to Wellesley’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in their efforts to raise awareness on campus of the mistreatment of Palestinians and the illegal nature of Israel’s settlements. We also unequivocally support Palestinian students on campus, especially international students who may hesitate to speak out for fear of retribution.
Furthermore, we offer our support to those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, due to the continual violence in occupied Palestine. We stand with those who have been subject to inhumane treatment and denied fair trials, those who have been forced to leave the homes their families have lived in for generations and those who have been jailed for merely drawing attention to the cruelty of the Israeli government and the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF).
We also offer our support to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which puts pressure on the Israeli government through non-violent means. The BDS movement is Palestinian-led and was inspired by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Supporting BDS means boycotting corporations that are complicit in the harm being done to Palestinians, and it means supporting local, more focused BDS campaigns that target specific companies, such as Sabra. The goal of BDS is to urge the Israeli government to fully comply with international humanitarian law, including granting Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes.
The occupation of Palestine has been difficult to discuss at Wellesley in the past. Advocacy for Palestinian liberation and BDS has often been conflated with antisemitism. We believe that support for a free Palestine is in no way antisemitic. The News wholeheartedly condemns antisemitism wherever and whenever it appears. We recognize that members of our community and their families have been personally impacted by these hateful beliefs and affirm that Jewish people have a right to feel welcome and secure at Wellesley and around the world.
The Mapping Project, an initiative founded by Boston-area activists, aims to show how institutions in the Greater Boston area implicitly and explicitly support the occupation of Palestine. Institutions such as colleges and universities, prisons, military contractors and financial entities are linked through monetary support or partnerships and collaborate to support Israeli apartheid.
According to the Mapping Project, Wellesley College has been “complicit in propaganda/normalization and Zionism.” They state that Wellesley’s administration and some pro-Israel students have created an environment on campus where students who support Palestine, specifically those on student visas, cannot express their views without consequences. They also add that Wellesley continues to promote Birthright Israel through regular emails to Jewish students, encouraging them to visit occupied Palestinian land.
We believe that the Mapping Project is providing a vital service. Collecting data about these institutions, tracing their financial and political activity and publicizing this information is incredibly important. Simply revealing that these ties exist is not justification for violence or bigotry of any kind. Rather, it forces us to reconsider our individual role in a systemic harm.
This is why we feel compelled to support Palestinian liberation: because we are all, through the college we attend, responsible for the harm being done. There are many organizations around the Boston area that the College partners with that have an even greater role in the injustice occurring in Palestine.
The Mapping Project notes that MIT is complicit in militarization, propaganda/normalization, surveillance and US imperialism and has an active role in developing the technologies used to harm Palestinians. The Broad Institute, which Wellesley uses for COVID-19 testing, is named as complicit in colonialism, causing ecological and health harm, militarization and propaganda/normalization.
Wellesley is inextricably linked to these harmful institutions in the Boston area. We urge the administration and Board of Trustees to consider what entities Wellesley chooses to partner with and invest in and to take steps to assure that they are not complicit in harm in Palestine or elsewhere.
We believe that the BDS movement is effective in encouraging institutions such as Wellesley to divest from Israel and any entity that supports Israeli apartheid. When organizations are forced to reconsider their business activities due to BDS campaigns, Israel is forced to reconsider its oppression of Palestinians.
The Wellesley Investment Office should immediately withdraw any investments in entities based in Israel or those that support the apartheid regime. The College should cease promoting Birthright Israel, foster an environment where Palestinian students feel free to express themselves and cut ties with any suppliers or vendors that provide support to the Israeli government.
As journalists, we have an obligation to document the truth. We are fortunate to be able to do so without facing violence. The same cannot be said for the journalists attempting to cover the atrocities committed in occupied Palestine. In May, Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by gunfire from the IOF while covering their raid in Jenin. While her employer, Al Jazeera, as well as numerous witnesses, asserted that IOF snipers killed Abu Akleh, the Israeli military did not acknowledge their culpability in the killing until Sept. 6. Even her funeral was marred by violence, with Israeli police beating mourners and charging at the pallbearers. Abu Akleh’s murder is not an aberration; Israel has killed at least 30 journalists since 2000.
We recognize our privilege as student journalists living in the West, protected by institutions and by anonymity. We would be remiss if we did not use this privilege to advocate for those suffering in Palestine and to support our peers fighting for Palestinian liberation. We are disheartened to witness Wellesley’s administration refusal to acknowledge the occupation of Palestine and the brutality that has been occurring under Israel’s settler-colonial regime for decades, even as they have addressed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Roe v. Wade and released a statement condemning the American Studies Association’s 2013 boycott of Israeli academic institutions. We urge Wellesley to retract this statement and endorse the American Studies Association’s boycott, in accordance with the principles of BDS.
As the Wellesley News Editorial Board, we firmly support the work that Wellesley’s Students for Justice in Palestine and Palestinian students have done to push Wellesley’s administration to acknowledge the College’s role in settler-colonialism and divest from Israel. We proudly support the BDS movement and the liberation of Palestine, and we call on our fellow students, our professors, Wellesley’s administration and the Board of Trustees to do the same.
Clarification. On Oct. 12, 2022, The Wellesley News posted this public statement on their social media regarding this article:
In the past week, The Wellesley News’ editorial titled “The Wellesley News Calls for the Liberation of Palestine” has received extensive press coverage accusing our editorial board of antisemitic beliefs. Members of our organization, which is fully student-run, have received hateful comments and harassment online. In our editorial, we endorsed the BDS movement and Wellesley Students for Justice in Palestine, and we reaffirm our support of both movements and the liberation of Palestine.
We intended to use the Mapping Project only as a source of information about Wellesley College and its affiliated institutions. We apologize for not clarifying the nuanced nature of the Project’s inclusion, and we recognize that the impact of our citation may have differed from its purpose. We did not and do not endorse The Mapping Project. The Wellesley News editorial board would like to reemphasize that we condemn antisemitism and all discriminatory beliefs, including the use of The Mapping Project for antisemitic rhetoric and actions.