Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition Statement about Gaza and Israel

Dear Coalition Members, 

As bell hooks reminds us, feminist solidarity is not homogeneity: “rather than pretend union, we would acknowledge that we are divided and must develop strategies to overcome fears, prejudices, resentments, competitiveness, etc.” (hooks, “Sisterhood,” 137).  

With this in mind, we, the members of the Coalition’s Advisory Board, write to you—not with a singular statement to flatten our many voices—but to acknowledge the violence, pain, grief, precarity, and historical complexity of this moment: the overwhelming death and destruction in Gaza, and the suffering of our community members in the U.S. and around the world. We understand that many of our members have different relationships with Israel and Palestine, and we cannot capture all the emotions, loss, and trauma in one statement.

We mourn the horrific massacre, abduction, and violence against Israelis and residents of Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7, which resulted in the most significant loss of Jewish life on a single day since the Holocaust. We witness and protest the rising cases of antisemitism within the United States and around the world since the attack, and we are alarmed for the safety of the Jewish community and especially for our Jewish colleagues and students. 

We are horrified by the violence and harassment against Palestinians, Palestinian-Americans, and Arabs in the US and abroad. We deplore the rising tide of Islamophobia occurring globally, as attacks against Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans have increased in number and violence, putting many of our co-workers and friends at risk. Too, we stand against the ongoing military violence perpetrated by Israel’s political leaders that has killed and injured tens of thousands of Palestinians and displaced over one million, and we urge elected officials to use their authority as US politicians to call for a permanent ceasefire–and we encourage feminist rhetoricians to do the same.

By referring to the violence in both Israel and Gaza, we do not mean to equate the destruction, but rather, to hold space for the multi-layered and complex suffering our members and their communities are experiencing; we believe we can hold multiple truths in our hearts as we call for justice and witnessing. As feminist rhetoricians, we are committed to the ethics of care that necessitate our denunciation of violence, dehumanization, antisemitism, and Islamophobia—and we hope that campus administrators will leverage their resources and care to support faculty, students, and staff who are impacted by the intergenerational trauma of this moment.

Many will say that to address this moment, a statement is not enough, and we agree. Statements, on their own, cannot enact change, but they can help create conditions that lead to change. To this end, we reaffirm our commitment to rhetorical listening across differences and to ongoing dialogue unmarred by violence, and we are exploring possibilities for venues and events through which to enact this commitment.

With peace,

The Coalition Advisory Board