Ceasefire Statement on Israel & Palestine

Statement by CSTM/SCTM on Palestine and Israel

Like others across the world, we were shocked and horrified by the October 7 killings of more than 1100 Israeli citizens by Hamas. In the months after this terrorist act, we watched the carnage of the bombing campaign on Gaza, and the futile attempts of the Gazan people to find safety. We read testimonies of harrowing loss from families of Israeli hostages; reports of extrajudicial killing of Arabs in the West Bank; details of the sadistic rape of Jewish women on October 7; and accounts of sexual abuse and torture of Palestinians detained in Gaza and the West Bank, and of hostages held by Hamas. And we saw a growing helplessness among people of good conscience everywhere, as the hope for a sustainable solution faded. The number of mostly civilian deaths in Gaza ticked up mercilessly, from 8000, to 16,000, to where it sits today, at 32,000 people. This number doesn’t count those with life-altering injuries, or those who lost home and livelihood; nor does it tally the profound intergenerational trauma that Palestinians and Israelis will face for generations to come. 

Within our academic sphere, we grappled with these events–as scholars, as humans–trying to formulate statements of solidarity and action plans, to write thoughtfully as buried trauma flared up in real time. Few of these well-intended efforts achieved their goal, and some exacerbated divisions among us that had previously gone unacknowledged. As disturbing was the rise of hate on the one hand (resulting in increased incidents of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other expressions of racism), and on the other, the equation of critique with hate (often by institutions formed to create spaces for critical dialogue). 

Facing this escalation, we call on our local and federal governments, our home institutions, and most of all, our colleagues in CSTM/SCTM and its sister societies to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza; the release and accounting for of all hostages held by Hamas; the permanent safeguarding and disarming of all civilian spaces; and the resumption of a process towards a sustainable agreement between the citizens of Israel and Palestine. We cannot bear to witness the appalling horror of starvation–the preventable starvation of innocent people–in silence. 

We, the Board of the CSTM/SCTM, know that any statement we make will be inadequate– and perhaps perceived as late, performative, timid, or neutral. It cannot satisfy all members of our society. Nor do we claim to speak on behalf of any person, or community. However, we write nonetheless, using language formed by consensus, in order to bind the greatest possible number of people into action. We cannot turn away from the destruction of Gaza and innocent Gazan civilians, with safety from war impossible, due to decades of constraint and deprivation. What Hamas wrought on October 7 was a vile act aimed at terrorizing innocent Israeli civilians. Each statement must stand–although these events are linked, and embedded within longer histories of anguish.

As an academic music society, the CSTM/SCTM sees the schools, libraries, museums, and archives in Gaza as sister institutions. The teachers, performers, and students within these spaces are our peers. Both the people and their cultural heritage is under assault. 

International music societies have condemned “mechanisms of marginalization and discrimination that are “deeply embedded in institutions and individual attitudes,” while calling for the “unrestricted movement of musicians and music scholars across national and international borders.” Yet our events have only rarely been enriched by academics from Palestine itself: by a paper (leading to a citation), by a chat over coffee (expanding into collaboration), by a workshop with Egyptian, Turkish or Israeli scholars (revealing regional resonances). Truthfully, Palestinian academics are unable to be our peers. The next conference of the International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance will be in Aotearoa; recent meetings were held in Kazakhstan, Ghana, and Thailand. A conference in Gaza City seems an impossibility. We therefore call for an immediate end to the destruction of the Palestinian people and the cultural spaces they have maintained and enlivened, and for a future that allows for the full and equal belonging of Palestinian scholars within our music societies. 

Such a future is hard to envision at this moment–a future where people have the luxury of thinking about music, instead of finding food or burying the dead. Yet we as a society hold space for it as a possibility. We resolve to approach this moment, and others like it, with our full humanity engaged–as thoughtful, critical academics, unintimidated by censorship yet open to dialogue, and as humans who refuse to be numbed by headlines and their mounting tallies of death. In this context, we see a call for an end to the terror, violence and misery in Israel and Palestine as a long-term commitment, not simply an academic exercise.   

Viewing this conflict from Canada is humbling: engaging with Indigenous thinkers has opened our eyes to ongoing, systemic dispossession and inequity at home, often directly benefiting our members. Within our institutions, we recommit to active and collaborative anti-colonial work, guided by the priorities of under-represented colleagues. Individually, we pledge generosity as we, our students, and our colleagues grapple with these issues, connected as they are to diverse lived histories. In the face of campaigns of dehumanization, we insist on action and empathy across difference–recognizing both the suffering that others are enduring, as well as our duty as a society to act, with collective good will, conviction, and hope.

For more information about CSTM/SCTM’s procedures regarding this statement and its proposed action, click here.

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