The following is a letter from Logic(s) editor in chief J. Khadijah Abdurahman. It has been updated from a previous version released on October 26 to reflect a condemnation of Columbia University's suspension of on-campus student organizations opposing the Israeli genocide of Palestine.
Logic(s) is committed to developing programs and opportunities to amplify the perspectives of Palestinians in our future issues and work.
November 20, 2023
In times of such brutality, where the Israeli government’s genocide in Gaza is live-streamed and endorsed by the most powerful countries in the Western world—the US war machine in particular—what meaningful words remain to be said? We condemn the occupation, the merciless destruction of life, even as we stand here knowing condemnation is vastly insufficient.
As a Black x Asian x queer magazine concerned with technology and society, what particular duties and responsibilities do we hold vis-à-vis this suffering? To begin with, one of our roles is to make visible the linkages obscured by hegemonic state narratives and widespread media complicity. For instance, the collective punishment of Palestinians and the bombs dropped on them have been designed by a transnational network of companies that mutually exchange technologies of occupation, with links ranging from Georgia Tech to Atlanta’s Cop City to Israel. Palestinians have been subjected to experimental technologies of occupation, refined and exported to Kashmir and to Colombia, where Israel Defence Force soldiers have been complicit in forcible disappearances and mutilation. The 1947–48 Nakba reverberates across the last seventy-five years and is renewed as Palestinians refuse occupation, refuse to die. Palestinian organizers have demanded that we see their land not just as a site of devastation but as one of reimagining, a place of self-determination.
Logic(s) is administratively housed at Columbia University’s Incite Institute, so we have a responsibility to condemn the university for suspending the campus chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), cutting them off from university funding and barring them from holding on-campus events during what remains of the fall term. A university administration that silences student organizing against genocide and deprives them of resources has aligned themselves with the state-sanctioned campaign to wipe Palestinians off the map. We are horrified to witness the doxxing and harassment of students who dare to speak truth to power, especially given the unabashedly pro-Israeli-occupation commitments of Columbia/Barnard’s Hillel chapter1 and the campus Israel advocacy organizations to whom they distribute Student Governing Board funds. We stand with SJP, JVP, and any member of the Columbia University community who prioritizes ethical commitments over proximity to power.
Given the technological focus of our magazine, we attend, in particular, to the histories of Israeli weapon and surveillance systems manufacturing—including those of Elbit Systems, which are used to construct and maintain apartheid through border checkpoints. Elbit Systems is also responsible for building drones used by the IDF, as well as key electronic systems used in tanks, attack aircraft, and other weapons.2 Israel then exports these weapons, “field tested” on Palestinians, worldwide, with India in particular buying billions’ worth of weapons for use in enforcing Hindutva nationalist ideology.3 In 2014, the US Customs and Border Patrol awarded Elbit a $145 million contract for construction of surveillance along the US–Mexico border, including on the ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people. 4 Today, the US and numerous European allies proudly fund the ongoing destruction and theft of Gaza. As technologists, it is imperative that we make these transnational connections between surveillance, policing, and the death-making regimes for which the tech industry develops ever more powerful mechanisms of control.
The cost of speaking out against Zionist apartheid is high, but the cost of silence is higher; indeed, what world worth living in would allow such injustice to go unchallenged. What moral purpose can we claim to serve if we do not scream “Free Palestine!” until Palestine is free, from the river to the sea? The pervasive silence among critical technology studies, mis/disinfo studies, and AI ethics remains notable but it is encouraging to witness the recent Responsible AI solidarity statement5 and to have the opportunity to join the Distributed AI Research Institute’s loud demands for a ceasefire now and #NoTechForApartheid.
Lest we forget, the Holocaust occurred at the height of modernity and was architected, as Aimé Cesaire famously observed, during European colonialism on the African continent. The subsequent dispossession and genocide of Palestine has been seen as a reasonable price to pay to cleanse the German conscience.6 It is not. We are reminded that the problem with Martin Niemöller’s quote is that first the German soldiers came for the Herero and Nama peoples of South West Africa. The destruction of human life and its refusal begins with the Indigenous people who remain despite the best effort of settler colonial empires. The successive violences of war, genocide, and settler colonialism have structured much of Palestinian life, whether in the diaspora or back home. We recognize genocide for what it is. We recognize the strength and moral soundness of the Palestinian people’s resistance against Israeli occupation.
The urgency of life and death is in tension with the slow work stewarding the archives of resistance and everyday life. We are reminded that it is these Palestinian archives—literal information science systems—that are now being swept away by Israeli missiles and white phosphorus. Those called “human animals” and their treasure troves of belongings, family photos, and toys that mark the life cycles of whole generations are wiped from the registry. Jewish Currents editor in chief Arielle Angel remarks that we have failed to build a movement capable of containing the grief for Israeli lives lost alongside the vastly asymmetrical scale of Palestinian martyrs; that Jewish grief risks being “politically metabolized against Palestinians.” 7 Unfortunately, it seems for now that risk has been realized. We call for an end to the bombing, but a ceasefire must be coupled with a refusal to normalize the apartheid to which Palestinians have been subject for seventy-five years. There can be no return to normal, no more willful ignorance of the exigency of our shared demand: free Palestine.
J. Khadijah Abdurahman
Editor in Chief, Logic(s)
1. Barnard alumni Eva Kalikoff cofounded the Columbia University chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace after being alienated by Hillel’s policy of banning partnerships with any groups that “support boycott of, divestment from, or sanctions against the State of Israel.” See Eva Kalikoff, “Exposing and Overcoming the Exclusivity of Hillel: The Role of Dissenting Jewish Voices at Columbia, and Beyond,” Current, December 2015, http://www.columbia-current.org/dissenting-jewish-voices---eva-kalikoff.html.
2. Visualizing Palestine, Elbit Systems fact database, March 2020, https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1SGfhmimgSf37F7DnkEZjaVv0--XOQ6naQ-oOcQJWhPs/edit#gid=0.
3. Urvashi Sarkar, “Israel Has Long Exported Arms to India. Now It’s Selling Spyware Too,” Bulletin of the Atomi Scientists, April 4, 2022,
https://thebulletin.org/2022/04/israel-long-exported-arms-to-india-now-its-selling-spyware-too/. See also “Devices of Palestinian Human Rights Defenders Hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware, Amnesty International, November 8, 2021,
Shir Hever, “Hostile Ideologies: Hindutva and Zionism March Hand in Hand,” Electronic Intifada, May 26, 2023, https://electronicintifada.net/content/hostile-ideologies-hindutva-and-zionism-march-hand-hand/37851.
4. Will Parrish, “The US Border Patrol and an Israeli Military Contractor Are Putting a Native American Reservation under ‘Persistent Surveillance,’“ Intercept, August 25, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/08/25/border-patrol-israel-elbit-surveillance/.
5. “The Responsible AI Community in Solidarity with Gaza and the Palestinian People,” open letter, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SAfEjfl2KxTSdvibAs7mqPUI7WPECVUkaog3ZwV3Z1c/edit.
6. Editorial, “Bad Memory,” Jewish Currents, Spring 2023, https://jewishcurrents.org/bad-memory-2.
7. Arielle Angel, “We Cannot Cross until We Carry Each Other,” Jewish Currents, October 12, 2023, https://jewishcurrents.org/we-cannot-cross-until-we-carry-each-other.