On December 6th, Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a Zionist group on Columbia’s campus, will be hosting an event entitled “Indigenous People Unite.” As a Zionist student organization, SSI aims to bolster support for the state of Israel, a settler-colonial state, and its occupation, elimination, and dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian population. The event claims to bring together five indigenous speakers on the premise of their “thousand year old sacred connection to a piece of land,” and will include a discussion “centered around pursuing common interests.” We believe there can be no common interests and no principled solidarity between indigenous people and those who defend and aid Israel’s active project of ethnic cleansing and colonization of the Palestinians and their land.
We reject this event on indigenous struggles hosted by a Zionist group as a form of colonial erasure and co-optation. SSI supports Israel’s expansion of internationally-condemned settlements, demolition of Palestinian homes, and theft of Palestinian resources such as water and agriculture, all in direct contradiction to indigenous rights. For SSI to claim that it uplifts indigenous struggles is not only ironic, but also deeply damaging. This event masks the catastrophic impact that the state of Israel, with its theft of Palestinian land and lives, has had and continues to have on the indigenous people of Palestine since 1948. Ignoring the struggles of Palestinians and advocating for their further dispossession while claiming to uplift indigenous voices is an attempt to appropriate the language of their struggles to excuse colonialism.
As groups that stand in solidarity with indigenous people, we reject all acts to erase their existence in the struggle against colonialism. We repudiate SSI’s co-optation of indigeneity, which obscures Israel’s active silencing of Palestinian voices. From North Dakota to Nablus, we stand with all indigenous communities in their resistance to dispossession and the appropriation of their histories, with recognition for the stolen land of the Lenni Lenape beneath our very own academic institution. We reject colonialism in every form and call upon the greater Columbia community to recognize the past and present oppression of Palestinians and all indigenous peoples around the world.
Columbia University Apartheid Divest
Queer & Asian (Q&A)
Undocumented Students Initiative
Columbia Queer Alliance
International Socialist Organization
Muslim Students Association
No Red Tape CU
Student Worker Solidarity
Mobilized African Diaspora (MAD)
African Students Association
Columbia University Club Bangla
Black Students Organization (BSO)
Students Organize for Syria
Native American Council (NAC)
Columbia Divest for Climate Justice (CDCJ)
Mixed Heritage Society
Haitian Students Association
South Asian Feminist Alliance (SAFA)
Flyer from the event: