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I’m a professor who got fired and arrested for protesting Israel’s Gaza war

In World
May 17, 2024

“We see the children under the rubble. We see every hospital in Gaza destroyed,” says American Professor Danny Shaw, highlighting the international community’s silence over the unfolding massacres and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. “We see a complete lack of respect for Palestinians as if they weren’t human beings,” he adds.

Sentiments like these have ignited protests against Israel’s assault on Gaza at more than 130 colleges and universities in the United States. Students and many faculty members are urging that their universities, with enormous endowments, cut ties to Israeli companies and end academic partnerships with Israeli institutions. In the eyes of the protesters, universities that invest in companies doing business with Israel are complicit in the continuing war in Gaza.

For nearly 20 years, Shaw served as a professor of Latin American and Caribbean studies at City College of New York. But, last month, he was accused of anti-Semitism and was fired for his outspoken criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza, and the use of US weapons and money in the enclave’s destruction. “They try to label us as terrorists, but what are our crimes? Student encampments, books, the truth?” says Shaw. He asserts that the battle he and thousands of others are waging in solidarity with Palestinians is not about religion but about colonialism. “Judaism is a historical religion and spiritual way of life but Zionism is the complete negation of Palestinian nationhood and existence,” he says.

As colleges and universities across the US face continued unrest, resulting in violent police raids and several thousand arrests, Close Up follows Shaw as he joins students demanding an end to the war in Gaza. In Shaw’s words: “No matter how hard they attack us, discredit us, dehumanise us, arrest us, break our bones, bomb our people across the Middle East, we have a historical responsibility to speak out.”


Directed by: Elizabeth Leiter & Tierney Bonini

Producer: Elizabeth Leiter

Writer: Tierney Bonini

Cinematographer: Giuseppe Malpasso

Editor: Antonia Perello

Music Producer: Hussam Aliwat

Sound Editor & Mixer: Linus Bergman

Executive Producer: Tierney Bonini

Senior Editor: Donald Cameron

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