Ethnic studies professors are calling on the University of California to cease labeling Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians as “terrorism,” arguing that such language puts students at risk.
The University of California Ethnic Studies Faculty Council released a statement urging UC administrators to retract their use of the term “terrorism” and instead support the Palestinian freedom struggle. The statement also accuses Israel of engaging in war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocide against the Palestinian people.
The faculty council demanded that UC administrators stop referring to Hamas’ attack on Israel as “terrorism.” The attack, which occurred on October 7, resulted in the deaths of at least 1,400 Israeli civilians, according to officials. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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On October 7, Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on Israel, firing thousands of rockets and killing civilians. At least 1,400 Israeli citizens and 33 Americans lost their lives. In response, Israel conducted retaliatory strikes that led to the deaths of over 7,000 Palestinians, as reported by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.
There are concerns that more than 200 people, including 10 Americans, may be held hostage by Hamas.
In a statement issued on October 9, UC leaders condemned the “horrific attack,” describing it as an act of terrorism and emphasizing the loss of innocent lives and the abduction of hostages, including children and the elderly.
However, the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council argues that the use of terms like “terrorism” and “unprovoked” by the administrators fuels anti-Muslim sentiments and jeopardizes the safety of Palestinian students and community members. The council cited the recent tragic death of a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy from Illinois due to a stabbing.
Students at UCLA rally in support of Palestinians affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas on October 12, 2023. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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The council, representing over 300 faculty members across the UC system, accuses UC administrative communications of distorting and misrepresenting the ongoing genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, thereby contributing to the erasure of the Palestinian reality. The University of California system comprises 10 campuses and serves nearly 300,000 students in California. University officials have not responded for comment.
Last week, the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder issued a similar statement, rejecting the use of “terrorism” by the US and Israel to justify the actions of the Israeli state.
The department referred to those supporting Palestinian liberation as “anti-genocide” activists.
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Chancellor Phillip DiStefano swiftly distanced the university from the ethnic studies department’s statement, clarifying that it does not represent the official position of CU Boulder. He referred readers back to the university’s original statement condemning Hamas’ attacks.
DiStefano emphasized that the university upholds academic freedom, free speech, and non-discrimination, unequivocally condemning antisemitism, Islamophobia, violence, discrimination, racism, and hatred in any form.
He added, “I hope that as a university, we can embody the peaceful and thoughtful exchange of ideas that we wish for the rest of the world.”
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Since the start of the conflict, pro-Palestinian rallies have erupted on campuses nationwide. Many student groups have faced criticism for expressing support for Palestinian “martyrs” and “liberators.”
Earlier this week, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley offered extra credit to students who participated in a walkout in support of Gaza.
Hannah Ray Lambert is an associate producer/writer with Fox News Digital Originals.