Statement of an American Law Professor Opposing Our Colonization of Palestine and Commission of Genocide Therein

Our country is committing a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza through the colony that we maintain in Palestine called the State of Israel. So far we have killed a minimum of 30,000 Palestinians. Twelve thousand eight hundred were children. Through our colonial forces—the Israeli military—we have dropped 30,000 bombs on, and fired 90,000 artillery shells into, a population of two million Palestinians who are completely encircled on an urban territory half the size of New York City.

Since October, we have maintained a policy of denial of access to food, water, and medicine for the entire population of Palestinians in Gaza that has brought it to the brink of famine and epidemic in a mere six months—the quickest reduction of a population to starvation since the Nazis laid siege to a city of similar population in 1941. In Leningrad, where, unlike in Gaza, the encirclement was incomplete and the besieged population maintained some control over resupply, 100,000 people starved to death in the eighth month of the siege. That will be this May for Gaza.

Our colonial forces move through Gaza at will massacring, torturing, or raping the civilians they encounter. We target children, women, the injured, the hospitalized, the starving, the elderly, Muslims, Christians, those carrying white flags, and anyone who strays into extermination zones. As a result of this holocaust, which is only beginning, 17,000 children in Gaza have been separated from their families and many are classified as “wounded children with no surviving family.” Up to a thousand children shattered by our bombs have endured amputations without anesthetic, which we refuse to allow into the enclave.

I believe that when our country commits genocide all elements of civil society have a duty to oppose it, especially institutions of higher learning, which are the keepers of wisdom in our society—and especially law schools, whose business is to define justice. As a law professor, I therefore must condemn our nation’s commission of genocide against Palestinians. But this condemnation would not be sincere were I to condemn only the slaughter in which our nation has engaged over the past six months. For it represents only a particularly active phase in a broader project of genocide of the Palestinian people associated with the creation and expansion of our colony—Israel—in Palestine. (The Nakba was an earlier particularly active phase of this project.)

We must submit Israel, immediately, permanently, and unconditionally, to the legitimate government of Palestine everywhere from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Colonization is genocide. It is impossible to take land from its native inhabitants without destroying them through murder, forced resettlement, or both. All states are a product of colonization, but to put an end to further colonization the world long ago said: no more. Each of the dozens of Western colonies created in Africa or the Middle East after 1882—the year the first Western colonizers arrived in Palestine—has been decolonized, except ours: Israel. The proper response to modern colonization is decolonization—of the entire colonized territory. Anything short of that at best legitimizes the slaughter and displacement already undertaken to create the colony and thereby calls into question the modern norm against colonization. At worst, it encourages more slaughter and further displacement of the native population, as we are witnessing today in Palestine.

I must therefore call not for a ceasefire but for the immediate and complete dismantling of our colony in Palestine. We must submit Israel, immediately, permanently, and unconditionally, to the legitimate government of Palestine everywhere from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. It is not uncommon for a colony to resist attempts by the metropole to shut her down. If Israel resists, we must be prepared to use military force to compel her submission to Palestine.

I must also oppose the Zionist ideology that gave rise to the creation of Israel. The core Zionist tenet that Jewish people as a group have a right to self-determination in Palestine is racist. I reject it. Only the native population of Palestine—the Palestinians, among whom are counted adherents to the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths—has a right of self-determination in Palestine. I call for the dismantling of all organizations that support Zionism in the United States and around the world.

I note that, as a colonized population, the Palestinians alone have a right to engage in armed struggle within their territory, which includes all of the territory of Israel. The operation carried out by Palestinian armed forces on October 7, 2023 was a legitimate exercise of that right. Palestinian forces broke out of the military encirclement of Gaza that had been maintained by our colonial army for decades, killed hundreds of soldiers in that army, including dozens of officers and four colonels, and seized control of the headquarters of the military division maintaining the encirclement.

I believe that Palestinians’ seizure of civilian hostages was a proportionate response to our colonial forces’ decades-long practice of taking Palestinian civilian hostages, including children, and holding them under horrific conditions. Our colonial forces held more than 1,200 Palestinian civilian hostages immediately prior to October 7 and have taken additional hostages, including children, since then. Colonist civilians seeking redress for harm inflicted upon them by Palestinian armed forces must apply for justice to a competent Palestinian or international tribunal, just as a civilian anywhere in the world seeking redress for harms committed by the armed forces of a legitimate government within its territory must apply to that government or an international court for redress. Neither we, nor our colonial forces in Palestine, nor colonist civilians, have a right to seek redress through violence.

The only thing that is perhaps unusual about this colonization project is that we prefer not to call it colonization, because today the world recognizes that colonization is unacceptable. 

Is Israel really our colony? Are her actions ours? The answer is unmistakably “yes”. We created Israel in 1948 by recognizing the Nakba—the mass murder and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians carried out by Zionist forces—as an act of statehood, something the rest of the world would not have accepted without our leadership. We extend to Israel a de facto guarantee of territorial integrity that appears every bit as strong as the one that the fifty states enjoy, and without which it is doubtful that Israel would continue to exist. We rush aircraft carrier battle groups and unlimited supplies of weaponry to Israel whenever she is threatened—and unlike our support for our close ally, Britain, during World War Two, we provide this support free of charge.

We also bomb and invade Israel’s enemies. Our legislature casts unanimous or near unanimous votes in Israel’s favor on matters that concern her security—a level of bipartisanship that one might otherwise expect only if the territorial integrity of the United States themselves were under threat. We permit Israel’s government, alone among putatively foreign governments, to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections. Israel is the largest recipient of our financial aid of any nation since World War Two, so far receiving twice what we gave all of Europe as part of the Marshall Plan.

The history of colonialism is replete with examples of metropoles that maintained a more distant relationship with their colonies than we maintain with Israel. The only thing that is perhaps unusual about this colonization project is that we prefer not to call it colonization, because today the world recognizes that colonization is unacceptable. 

The slaughter that our nation is conducting today in Palestine has been enabled by the failure of earlier decolonization movements to hold colonizers accountable. Accordingly, I call also for the prosecution of all Americans and Israelis who have provided material support for our colonial project in Palestine, especially President Biden and all those who have participated in military action against Palestinians at any time, including as members of Israeli military forces. This also includes major media organizations in the United States, such as The New York Times, which have incited genocide by reporting as fact claims that Palestinian armed forces killed colonists’ babies or raped colonist women on October 7—claims for which there is no evidence. I note that international criminal tribunals have convicted media executives for incitement to genocide in the past.

Finally, I call for the resignation of every university president in the United States who has failed over six months of our nation’s mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza publicly to condemn the slaughter. I expect our university heads to object when our nation commits genocide.

Free Palestine.


Ramsi A. Woodcock
Associate Professor of Law
J. David Rosenberg College of Law
University of Kentucky