J. W. Mason – Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) Statement on Gaza

This is not the sort of thing one expects of economists, but these are challenging times when everyone needs to stand up and be counted

J. W. Mason is Associate Professor of Economics at John Jay College, City University of New York and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute

Cross-posted from Josh’s blog


I’ve been struggling to find something to say about the unfolding horror in Gaza. What is happening there is not war, but murder on an industrial scale. It is a conscious effort to bring about the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands of human beings, and to permanently drive millions from their homes. It is the deliberate destruction of a whole society. And it is happening in full view of the world, with the enthusiastic support of the governments of the United States and most of Europe. We can’t look away from this. We have to say something, whether or not it has any effect.

But I think that our words can have an effect. Israel depends on support — material and moral — from the US, and from other countries whose governments are more or less vulnerable to public pressure. (Perhaps it’s less dependent than it used to be, but less does not mean not at all.) Right now they have a free hand, but they won’t forever. Public opinion is clearly shifting, and the costs to other governments of ongoing complicity in the war are growing. There is a limited window within which the killing and displacement can continue, a window whose size depends on world opinion. Anyone with a public platform, however small, can try to help close it. The most important thing now is to demand an immediate ceasefire by Israel. If you can say that anywhere where people will hear you, then, in my opinion, that’s what you should say.

So I was very glad to see the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) put out a statement on Gaza that begins by expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people, and calls for an immediate ceasefire as its first demand. URPE is as far as you can get from being an important geopolitical player. But it’s my own professional home, so it matters to me, and I’m sure to a number of readers of this. It’s also an organization founded on the principle that economists and social scientists cannot be dispassionate technicians and observers, but have a responsibility to take sides in the struggles of our times. It’s good to see that, after some initial hesitation, they lived up that commitment here.

The statement is below. It’s a good statement. I endorse all of it.


We stand in unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people. Since October 7th, 2023, over two million people have faced a brutal onslaught by the Israeli military and state. They have been forced to flee with nowhere to go as homes, shelters, evacuation routes, border crossings, hospitals, places of worship and entire neighborhoods have been bombed.

We mourn civilian deaths in both Israel and Palestine. Israel’s retaliation for the October 7th incursion continues, however, and over 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing assault so far.  The estimated number of children among the casualties is over 3,000 and UNICEF estimates that about 420 children have been killed or wounded daily. Even reporters have been threatened with violence or killed.

Since the Nakba 75 years ago, the Palestinian people have endured profound suffering, forced displacement, and a brutal 16-year-long inhumane siege and blockade in Gaza. Human rights organizations have characterized Gaza as ‘the largest open-air prison’.

We also condemn the role of the U.S. state in supporting the ongoing siege in Palestine, its support for the horrors inflicted on Gaza, and its refusal to support a humanitarian ceasefire. It is imperative that we do not turn our backs on the devastating impact of this violence on people’s lives. The fight for Palestinian liberation and a fair, enduring peace in the region is intricately linked with the liberation and resistance efforts spearheaded by indigenous, colonized, and oppressed communities historically and worldwide.

We stand in support of efforts by the Palestinian people to sustain themselves economically through control over their land and their labor. We stand in solidarity with the anti-Zionist Jewish communities that have been raising their voices against the carpet bombing of Gaza, for the liberation of the Palestinian people, and who are working for a just, equitable, and durable peace.

We urgently call for:

(1)    An immediate ceasefire

(2)    Immediate restoration of food, fuel, water, and electricity to the Gaza Strip

(3)    Cessation of all settlement activity and disarmament of all settlers

(4)    Immediate delivery of humanitarian aid on the scale required

(5)    Respect towards the Geneva Conventions by all parties concerned

(6)    An end to apartheid and strident moves toward a democratic future for all people regardless of race, religion, gender identity and nationality

In addition, we strongly uphold the principle of academic freedom, especially in light of the current global climate where individuals in educational institutions worldwide face termination, doxing, and harassment for speaking up against the atrocities of the Israeli state and in support of the civilian population in Gaza. Neglecting this commitment would be a betrayal of our scholarly and moral obligations.

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