Message from the Board: Palestine

Middle East Medievalists Statement of Solidarity with Palestinians

The officers of the Board of Middle East Medievalists stand in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, and with those who have Israeli citizenship. We condemn the killing of Palestinians in the Israeli airstrikes of May 2021 and denounce the ongoing annexation, seizure, and occupation of Palestinian homes and land, which are illegal under international law. Alongside Israeli and international human rights organizations, we recognize these recent events as the latest manifestation of a 73-year-old system that codifies the restriction of Palestinian freedom of movement, the unequal legal treatment of Palestinians in Israel and in the Palestinian territories, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian neighborhoods, towns, and villages, and the subjugation of Palestinians within systems of apartheid.

The study of the medieval Middle East is complicit in the formation of Western ideas of inferiority and difference that have long underpinned the logic of settler colonialism. The racial and ethnic composition of academic departments of Middle Eastern Studies, the boards of our journals and our professional organizations, as well as the extractive nature of academic work on the region, which largely benefits the careers of those outside of it, contribute to ongoing regimes of scholarship that perpetuate that otherness. As students of history, we know that our study of the past is always shaped by the present and all too often reproduces the power asymmetries and injustices of the present.

Building on our Black Lives Matter statement and recognizing the interrelated nature of these struggles, the officers of the MEM Board voice their support for Palestinians who live every day in conditions that undermine their basic human rights. We condemn these injustices and the institutional structures that perpetuate them.