CAE statement regarding ongoing genocidal and “scholasticidal” violence in Gaza 

Among the over 34,000 people that are known to have been killed by Israel’s war on Gaza since October 7, 2023, UNICEF spokesman, James Elder, points to the 14,000 children among the dead, calling for an “immediate ceasefire.” The death toll of children in Gaza surpasses the number of children killed globally in the last four years, 2019-2022. On April 1, 2024, Israeli air strikes killed seven World Central Kitchen personnel, which provides desperately needed food assistance in Gaza. Recent analysis has shown a risk of famine is imminent for the 2.2 million people of Gaza, with many children suffering from malnutrition. Save the Children confirmed, as of April 1, 2024, that 27 children have already died due to starvation and disease. The organization warned that children in Gaza are not getting the food and medical care they need to survive, with food being blocked at every turn and the health system obliterated. 

The destruction of Gaza’s education system has garnered less attention than that of access to food, water, electricity, and health care. Yet, the consequences for Palestinian children and future generations are critical; education is the heart of society. A new assessment of school damages in the Gaza Strip conducted by the Global Education Cluster, concludes that  approximately 378 schools have been destroyed or damaged, leaving more than 620,000 students out of schools. At least 67 per cent of schools in Gaza will either need full reconstruction or major rehabilitation work to become functional again. In January 2024, the Israeli military blew up Gaza’s last standing university, Al-Israa University. Since October 2023, all or parts of Gaza’s 12 universities have been bombed and mostly destroyed, rendering some 90,000 Palestinian students unable to continue their university education.  

The Palestinian Ministry of Education has reported the deaths of over 4,327 students, 231 teachers and 94 professors. Eight dedicated libraries and four university libraries have also been damaged or destroyed. All of this, Scholars Against the War on Palestine (SAWP) says, fits the description of “scholasticide,” a first coined by Karma Nabulsi, a Palestinian professor at Oxford University, and an expert on the laws of war. He said Israel’s objective is to make the territory uninhabitable, not just “by killing the person, but also killing the knowledge that they contain within them.” Many among those killed since October 7th have been prominent university leaders, teachers, educators, and public intellectuals deeply dedicated to keeping alive the right to knowledge and educational resources in Gaza. Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor writes, “the Israeli army has targeted academic, scientific, and intellectual figures in the Strip in deliberate and specific air raids on their homes without prior notice.” Destroying knowledge institutions like schools, libraries, universities,  museums, after-school programs, as well killing Palestinian intellectuals, educators, and students, constitutes a systematic destruction of the entire education system. The destruction of educational systems is also analyzed as part of South Africa’s accusation of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice.  

We recognize the right to education as asserted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights organizations. We call out the irreparable harm done when systems of education are destroyed. We see education as one of the primary ways in which societies build their own futures, and we assert the right of Palestinians to sovereignty, self-determination, and healthy conditions.​​ As educators committed to opposing violence, the Council on Anthropology and Education calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the unimpeded passage needed to distribute adequate humanitarian aid to Gaza. Only a cessation of violence can bring about a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict for all and an end to Israeli apartheid and ​​occupation. As a section of the AAA, we call on our members to uphold the practices of the Boycott passed by our membership in 2023. 

Council of Anthropology and Education Executive Committee 

This statement represents the view of the Executive Committee of the Council on Anthropology and Education, a section of AAA. It should not be construed as representing the American Anthropological Association as a whole. The American Anthropological Association is a voluntary, non-profit, scholarly association. Membership is worldwide. It has diverse sections representing specialized interests within the field.