'Structural Apartheid': Hundreds of University of Michigan Faculty Members Blame Hamas Terror Attacks on Israel

University professors in open statement lament 'campaign of destruction being undertaken by the Israeli military'

University of Michigan anti-Israel protesters in Jan. 2023
October 14, 2023

Hundreds of faculty members at the University of Michigan signed a statement that blames Hamas's slaughtering of innocent Israeli citizens on the Jewish state and its "structural apartheid."

"We write as human beings in grief and anguish over the loss of life—both Palestinian and Israeli—that is the result of the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine and the structural apartheid Palestinians residing both within Israel and the Occupied Territories endure on a daily basis," reads the statement, which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. "We solicit supporting signatures from allies … to acknowledge that there are many victims of this war and all of them deserve to be recognized and grieved."

The statement—which at least 738 professors, university staff members, and graduate students at the school have signed—reflects the ongoing push at top U.S. universities to excuse Hamas's terror attacks and denounce Israel. Dozens of student groups at Harvard, for example, signed on to a statement that held "the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence." University of Michigan law students, meanwhile, praised "Palestinians in Gaza" for "fighting against the Israeli colonial entity on an unprecedented scale."

University of Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald directed the Free Beacon to a statement the school released Friday, which noted that the "death toll is mounting among Israelis and Palestinians" and mourned "the loss of lives in both Israel and Gaza."

In addition to their argument that Israeli "apartheid" prompted Hamas's terrorism, the University of Michigan professors in their statement attacked the school's president, Santa Ono, for standing with Israel. Ono on Tuesday issued a message that condemned "the horrific attack by Hamas terrorists on Israeli citizens" and offered support for various Israeli universities.

That message, the professors' statement argues, is incomplete, as it makes "no mention of Palestine or Palestinians" and does not condemn past Israeli "violence."

"Such an absence suggests that only Israelis have been wounded, traumatized, or killed in the ongoing violence," the statement says. "This framing also ignores that there are University of Michigan students, faculty, and staff impacted by the campaign of destruction being undertaken by the Israeli military against the entire civilian population in Gaza—2 million people, 1 million of whom are children."

The statement's top signatories did not return requests for comment. Those signatories include history professor Juan Cole, associate gender studies professor Charlotte Karem Albrecht, theater professor Ashley Lucas, associate gender studies professor Victor Mendoza, musicology professor Amy Stillman, and lecturer Matthew Stiffler.

At least one of the signatories, Cole, has advanced anti-Israel rhetoric in the past. Cole in 2018 defended a University of Michigan professor who refused to write a letter of recommendation for a student to study abroad in Israel, citing an "academic boycott" against the Jewish state. After Hamas's attacks, meanwhile, Cole accused Israel of "luring" Palestinians with the promise of a "good economy."

"It was nothing more than a smokescreen for predatory projects of colonizing and appropriating Palestinian land or making Gaza into an open air penitentiary," Cole wrote on Sunday.

Students at the university have also targeted Israel.

The university's student government in 2021 published a letter accusing Israel of "settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid." And in January of this year, members of the university's Students Allied for Freedom and Equality chapter protested Vice President Kamala Harris's visit to the school by marching through campus, chanting, "Long live the intifada" and "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free," a phrase that calls for Israel's eradication.