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Palestine and the embarrassing silence of Senegalese universities

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By Hamidou ANNE

We must never stop condemning the October 7 attack and the hostage-taking of Israeli civilians perpetrated by Hamas. But the Israeli response, its scale, its total lack of discernment, the crimes perpetrated by one of the most powerful armies in the world on civilians, the majority of whom are children, are unworthy of any form of humanity.

In seven months, more than 30,000 Palestinians were killed, the Gaza Strip razed to no longer allow a possibility of life. The dehumanization of a people and the desire for their erasure must make all those who still believe in humanity react.

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The Israeli far-right government, after having received unconditional support from its traditional Western allies, sees its image compromised and its moral isolation gradually taking hold given the scale of the crimes.

Public opinions around the world, faced with the massive and disproportionate response, have expressed their deep emotion in the face of what the International Court of Justice has described as a plausible risk of genocide. We are in the 21st century, and this barbarity which is taking place before the eyes of the helpless world is intolerable.

Western youth everywhere are raising their voices to denounce the war crimes and even against humanity committed by Benjamin Netanyahu and his government made up of openly racist Jewish supremacists, who have several times called for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

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American universities are at the heart of a whirlwind, with students committed to the Palestinian cause, who have been calling for a ceasefire for months despite the inertia of a Biden government whose support for Israel is absolute. Above all, if this war continues, it is also thanks to Washington’s support, in funds and weapons, for the Israeli government. Faced with the massive nature of the protests, accusations of anti-Semitism quickly emerged to delegitimize words that are not hemiplegic and that say that Palestinians exist and should not see their dignity to exist violated.

In France too, the controversy is heated. Science-Po Paris students demonstrate to stop the massacres in Gaza. Several conferences are organized on the premises of the prestigious institution and in many other universities to denounce the scale of Netanyahu’s crimes against Palestinian civilians. Unrest was even noted on rue Saint-Guillaume, generating a national public media debate between two distinct lines. Sometimes accused of supporting Hamas, sometimes subject to accusations of anti-Semitism, young students are taking their responsibility to raise their voices in the face of what has become unbearable for any fairly just conscience.

In our country, we have an uninterrupted historical and diplomatic tradition of supporting the Palestinian cause. Since Senghor, we have brought a demanding voice to the UN on the crisis in the Middle East. I remember, again in recent years, the anger and the formidable efficiency, always with infinite delicacy, of ambassadors Paul Badji, Fodé Seck and Cheikh Niang, who fought at the United Nations for peace and a two-state solution.

Next to the State, what do universities do? At a time when European, American and Asian youth are acting for peace in Palestine/Israel, what are the Senegalese students demanding who are so quick to invade the streets and the airwaves for various causes?

Historically, Ucad has been a strong place of support for the Palestinian people as it was for the fight against Apartheid. Our country has always been at the heart of the world’s convulsions in the name of our values ??of peace, tolerance and humanism. But these values ??are crumbling and, in addition to the mediocrity which has taken over the spaces of thought, a disinterest in the great universalist principles has set in. Our universities are increasingly breeding students and teachers who are more concerned with the petty local political quarrel, for which they can burn down a den of knowledge or sign countless petitions often without interest other than defending fascists. They are also now increasingly defending conservative and retrograde ideas instead of being producers of new progressive imaginations consistent with the meaning of history.

I am surprised at the silence of some of our illustrious academics and thinkers on a crime of this magnitude and this seriousness which affects what is most essential to humanity, they who nevertheless call themselves paragons of virtue and great values, and who in the name of these values ??have disturbed our peace with their massively signed forums to defend a rancid political orientation led by people with more than doubtful republican morality.

In view of the international context which sees blackmail on anti-Semitism carried out on numerous critical voices on Israeli policy, it is possible to understand the silence of our intellectuals who teach in American and European establishments.

If they support the Jewish state, they will suffer attacks from our compatriots who would immediately label them as supporters of the “Islamophobic West”. And, conversely, if they publicly take a position in favor of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, their appearance, their origin and even their religious faith will be used to harass them, cast shame on them and perhaps demand their excommunication. . And it will be their social death in the Western intellectual field with its conferences, meetings and other symposia.

On the other hand, at least from the amphitheaters and the campuses of the faculties of our country, where they cannot brandish the argument of the risk of trial of intent and crime of facies, the students, the academics, the rentier civil society of all causes should take a stand for the Palestinian people. For peace, for two States side by side within secure and recognized borders, in the name of International Law but above all in the name of simple humanity.

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