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LETTER: An open letter from UNM law students in support of Palestine

We, concerned students, faulty and community members associated with the University of New Mexico, stand unapologetically and unequivocally in solidarity with the Palestinian civilians and their on-going struggle against Israeli settler colonialism. 

We recognize the suffering of Israelis that have lost their lives and loved ones as a result of this on-going violence, as well as the experiences of those that have suffered antisemitic and Islamophobic violence as a response to the actions of the Israeli government. However, the time has come for us to hold perpetrators and supporters of genocide accountable for their actions and inactions.

A letter from Birzeit University, a Palestinian institution of higher education in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, details the substantial loss of life, liberty and property experienced by Palestinian civilians in the weeks following Oct. 7, 2023, and throughout the previous 75 years of military occupation. 

Since Oct. 7, official counts have risen to more than 8,000 dead and 20,000 injured Palestinians civilians.

Because of the history of settler colonialism in New Mexico, Birzeit University’s call for acknowledgement of these atrocities resonates deeply within our land and community. 

While institutions of learning across the nation have chosen not to take a stand because of fear of being labeled antisemitic or threats from donors to withdraw funding, remaining silent while the Israeli government continues to commit atrocities against Palestinian people is complicity with genocide. 

We echo the statement made by Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, that the violence on Oct. 7 did not occur in a vacuum. On Oct. 24, in reference to the 56 years of “suffocating occupation” of the Palestinian people, the Secretary-General said:

"They have seen their land steadily devoured by settlements and plagued by violence; their economy stifled; their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution to their plight have been vanishing."

The United States has unparalleled power in this conflict. Our government is actively blocking international attempts to keep Israel within the constraints of International Law, while also blocking international efforts to provide civilian aid to Gaza. The U.S. continues to provide weapons and funding to the Israeli government. Perhaps most crucially, the U.S. and Western media outlets are dictating a national narrative that erases 75 years of occupation and apartheid, dehumanizes the Palestinian people, engenders complacency towards the mass murder of Arab residents in the region, promotes retaliation against those who condemn Israel’s war crimes and falsely conflates the Zionist settler colonial project with Jewish ethnic and religious communities. 

This rhetoric is patently false and must be rejected. We, as taxpayers and community members, have real and demonstrable power to affect the action and narrative of our nation, and our institutions of higher learning have a responsibility to teach an unbiased account of these events and to condemn all acts of genocide, regardless of U.S. policies or public pressures. 

We urge the University of New Mexico and other academic institutions to join us in our: 

1.  Condemnation of the genocide of the Palestinian people.

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2. Demand for an immediate ceasefire, and a permanent end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

3. Demand for unrestricted humanitarian aid to Gaza.

An open letter from UNM law students in support of Palestine 

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