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On solidarity

May 3, 2024

This piece represents the opinion of the author .

I fully support my students’ rights to protest, to activism and to dreaming and building better futures. At Bowdoin, I have been proud to be a part of solidarity initiatives to improve our campus community: from our committee hiring of four endowed chairs in race, racism and racial justice, to being part of the College’s first accessibility task force, prioritizing inclusion, diversity and belonging. Reflecting on the Bowdoin Solidarity Referendum recently proposed by Bowdoin Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), I feel compelled to react to the call for a public, institutional stand against “the Israeli government’s ongoing scholasticide in Gaza.” The referendum seems to be written without any acknowledgement of the months of unprecedented loss and trauma that have been felt throughout the region and for those of us across the globe connected to Israelis and Palestinians. I write both as a Jewish faculty member at the College and as a scholar of Inquisition with attention to silences—how in our efforts towards justice and solidarity, we can erase and dehumanize. I want to acknowledge pain and loss: More Jews were killed on October 7 than on any day since the Holocaust, and Jewish people make up only 0.2 percent of the global population. I want to acknowledge the diversity of Jews in Israel: Israeli Jews come from around the world, only about 30 percent are Ashkenazi (European) Jews; Mizrahi Jews (of Middle Eastern and North African descent) are the majority. If the Bowdoin Solidarity Referendum passes as written and the College makes the suggested statement, we risk leaving behind many impacted by the ongoing violence in the region and the rising hate here in the U.S. For my own ongoing activism, I have found inspiration and meaning in the vision of the progressive and grassroots movement Standing Together. I stand with its calls for an urgent ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, to bring back the hostages and save the lives of innocent people in Gaza.

Some key takeaways from the Standing Together movement that I hope will also benefit our campus community:

1. Create spaces for Jews and Palestinians in the diaspora to discuss shared grief.

2. Work collectively to generate hope and solidarity during this dark time.

3. Promote de-escalation, safe and open spaces for learning and discourse.

4. Pool efforts for humanitarian and mutual aid.

5. Monitor calls for violence and discrimination, educate about Islamophobia and antisemitism.

Margaret Boyle is an associate professor of romance languages and literatures and Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies.


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  1. Natasha Goldman says:

    As a former Bowdoin faculty member, I want to thank Prof. Boyle for her generous, thoughtful statement about working together. Thank you modeling the way in which we can address multiple viewpoints at one time.

    • Laura McCandlish says:

      Right on! Proud of Profs. Boyle and Stone for their courage in opening up space for more nuanced and empathetic dialogues on campus. And to Katie Toro-Ferrari, and to The Orient for broadening the discourse, and welcoming their perspectives.

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