We the undersigned are deeply concerned by the statement “Principles of solidarity” published on the website of the Normative Orders research center at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt on 13th November 2023, signed by Nicole Deitelhoff, Rainer Forst, Klaus Günther and Jürgen Habermas.

We join the authors in condemning the killing and taking hostage of Israeli civilians by Hamas on 7th October 2023 and we fully agree with the vital need to protect Jewish life in Germany in the face of rising antisemitism. We also agree with the statement’s grounding of these positions in the respect for human dignity for all people as a central part of the “democratic ethos of the Federal Republic of Germany”.

However, we are deeply troubled by the apparent limits of the solidarity expressed by the authors. The statement’s concern for human dignity is not adequately extended to Palestinian civilians in Gaza who are facing death and destruction. Nor is it applied or extended to Muslims in Germany experiencing rising Islamophobia. Solidarity means that the principle of human dignity must apply to all people. This requires us to recognize and address the suffering of all those affected by an armed conflict.

The statement claims that, “the standards of judgement slip completely when genocidal intentions are attributed to Israel’s actions”. There is ongoing discussion among genocide scholars and legal experts whether the legal standard for genocide has been met. Human rights groups have filed lawsuits alleging genocide at the International Criminal Court and a federal court in the US. Omer Bartov, professor of Holocaust and Genocide studies at Brown University, has recently reminded us: “We know from history that it is crucial to warn of the potential for genocide before it occurs, rather than belatedly condemn it after it has taken place. I think we still have that time.” Showing solidarity and respecting human dignity means that we must heed this warning and not close down the space for debate and reflection about the possibility of genocide. Not all signatories believe that the legal standards for genocide have been met, nevertheless, all agree this is a matter of legitimate debate.

The statement mentions three “guiding principles” for military action: “principles of proportionality, the prevention of civilian casualties and the waging of a war with the prospect for future peace”. We are concerned that there is no mention of upholding international law, which also prohibits war crimes and crimes against humanity such as collective punishment, persecution, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure including schools, hospitals and places of worship. Being guided by principles of international legal standards, solidarity and human dignity compels us to hold all participants in the conflict to this higher standard. 

We cannot allow the atrocities to force us to abandon these principles.

  1. Adam Tooze (Professor of History, Columbia University)
  2. Samuel Moyn (Professor, Yale University)
  3. Amia Srinivasan (Professor of Social and Political Theory, University of Oxford)
  4. Nancy Fraser (Professor of Political and Social Science, New School for Social Research)
  5. Jay Bernstein (Professor of Philosophy, New School for Social Research)
  6. Alice Crary (Professor of Philosophy, New School for Social Reserach)
  7. Juliane Rebentisch (Universität Offenbach/University of Princeton)
  8. Chandra Talpade Mohanti (Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University)
  9. Diedrich Diederichsen (Professor for Theory of Contemporary Art, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna)
  10. Beate Roessler (Professor of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam)
  11. Quinn Slobodian (Professor of History, Wellesley College)
  12. Michael Hardt (Professor, Duke)
  13. Franco Bifo Berardi (Philosopher, Napoli)
  14. Frederick Neuhouser (Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University)
  15. Linda Zerilli (Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science University of Chicago)
  16. Paul Preciado (Philosopher, Paris)
  17. Nikhil Pal Singh (Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History, Chair of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University)
  18. Dr Scilla Elworthy (Founder, The Business Plan for Peace)
  19. Rosalind Morris (Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University)
  20. Albena Azmanova (Professor, University of Kent)
  21. W. J. T. Mitchell (Professor, University of Chicago)
  22. Daniel Loick (Associate Professor of Political and Social Philosophy, Universität Amsterdam)
  23. Steven Klein (Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, King’s College London)
  24. Robin Celikates (Professor of Philosophy, Freie Universität Berlin
  25. Esra Özyürek (Professor, University of Cambridge)
  26. Jeanne Morefield (Associate Professor of Political Theory, University of Oxford)
  27. Katrin Flikschuh (Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science)
  28. Melissa Williams (Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto)
  29. Alison M Jaggar (Emerita Professor of Distinction, University of Colorado Boulder)
  30. Fumi Okiji (Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley)
  31. Eli Zaretzky (Professor of History, New School for Social Research)
  32. Zeynep Gambetti (Associate Professor, Istanbul)
  33. Bruno Leipold (Fellow, The New Institute)
  34. Anselm Franke  (Professor, University of the Arts Zurich)
  35. Tobias Müller (Fellow, The New Institute)
  36. Akwugo Emejulu (Professor, University of Warwick)
  37. Eva von Redecker (Berlin)
  38. Maeve McKeown (Assistant Professor of Political Theory, University of Groningen)
  39. Manuela Bojadžijev (Professor, Humboldt-University)
  40. Dirk Moses (Spitzer Professor of International Relations, City College of New York)
  41. William Clare Roberts (Associate Professor of Political Science , McGill University)
  42. Erin R. Pineda (Phyllis C. Rappaport ’68 New Century Term Assistant Professor of Government, Smith College)
  43. Alasia Nuti (Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, University of York)
  44. Henrike Kohpeiß (Postdoc, Free University, Berlin)
  45. Matthias Lievens (Assistant Professor, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven)
  46. John Smith (Professor Emeritus of Fine Art, University of East London)
  47. Oreet Ashery (Artist)
  48. Mason Leaver-Yap (Postgraduate Studies, Glasgow School of Art)
  49. Eyal Weizman (Professor)
  50. Angela Dimitrakaki (Art historian and novelist)
  51. Yaiza Hernández Velázquez (Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London)
  52. Marina Vishmidt (Professor of Art Theory, University of Applied Arts, Vienna)
  53. Cecile Malaspina (Directrice de programme, College international de philosophie, France)
  54. Gabriëlle Schleijpen (Artistic director | head of program DAI Roaming Academy)
  55. Larne Abse Gogarty (Head of History and Theory of Art, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL)
  56. Peter Osborne (Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University London)
  57. Mirjam Müller (Jun.- Professor of Feminist Philosophy, Humboldt University of Berlin
  58. Charles Esche (Professor, University of the Arts, London)
  59. Marion Detjen (Bard College Berlin)
  60. Sultan Doughan (Lecturer, Goldsmiths)
  61. Claire Bishop (Professor, CUNY Graduate Center)
  62. David Lloyd (Distinguished Professor of English , University of California, Riverside)
  63. Alice von Bieberstein (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)
  64. Paul Apostolidis (Professor, LSE)
  65. Aurelia Kalisky (Berlin)
  66. Maurizio Lazzarato (Philosopher, Paris)
  67. Alberto Toscano (Professor of Critical Theory, Goldsmiths, University of London / Simon Fraser University)
  68. Ana Teixeira Pinto (Professor HBK/Dutch Art Institute)
  69. William Callison (Postdoc, Uppsala University)
  70. Nadim Khoury (Associate Professor, Inland Norway University of Applied Science)
  71. Natasha Lennard (Associate Director Critical Journalism, The New School, New York)
  72. Volkan Çidam (Assist. Prof, Boğaziçi University, İstanbul)
  73. Jacob Blumenfeld (Fellow, Centre for Social Critique, HU Berlin)
  74. Anya Topolski (Associate Professor in Political Philosophy, Radboud University)
  75. Antke Engel (Institute for Queer Theory, Berlin)
  76. Thomas Locher (Artist)
  77. Denise Ferreira da Silva (Professor, University of British Columbia)
  78. Paula Chakravarttu (James Weldon Johnson Associate Professor of Media Studies, New York University)
  79. Alexi Kukuljevic (Assistant Professor, University of Applied Arts Vienna)
  80. Giovanna Zapperi (Professor, University of Geneva)
  81. Frieder Vogelmann (Professor for Epistemology and Theory of Science, University of Freiburg)
  82. James Cochrane (Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town)
  83. Enzo Rossi (Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Amsterdam)
  84. Siddharth Soni (Research Fellow, University of Cambridge)
  85. Franz Knappik (Professor of Philosophy, University of Bergen)
  86. Daniel James (Postdoc, Technische Universität Dresden)
  87. Eyja Brynjarsdottir (Professor of Philosophy, University of Iceland)
  88. Hanna Meißner (Professor, Technische Universität Berlin)
  89. Su Ming Khoo (Associate Professor, University of Galway)
  90. Timothy Waligore (Associate Professor Political Science, Pace University)
  91. David Welch (Professor of Political Science, University of Waterloo)
  92. Giovanni Mascaretti (Postdoc, University of Bergamo)
  93. Peter J. Verovšek (Assistant Professor, History and Theory of European Integration, University of Groningen)
  94. Amy Reed-Sandoval (Associate Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
  95. John Pringle (Independent Researcher)
  96. Assel Tutumlu (Associate Professor in Political Science, Near East University)
  97. Tirdad Zolghadr (Guest professor, University of the Arts Berlin)
  98. Mathelinda Nabugodi (Lecturer, University College London)
  99. Doriane Zerka (Assistant Professor, University of Cambridge)
  100. Sina Kramer (Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Loyola Marymount University)
  101. Chady Seubert (Actress)
  102. Diana Abbani (Researcher, Forum Transregionale Studien)
  103. Eddie Bruce-Jones (Professor of Law, SOAS, University of London)
  104. Vanessa E. Thompson (Assistant Professor, Queen’s University, Canada)
  105. Thandeka Cochrane (Research Associate, King’s College London)
  106. Christine Schwöbel-Patel (Professor, Warwick Law School, University of Warwick)
  107. Lily Crawford (Graduate student, University of Oslo)
  108. Gerard Delanty (Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Sussex, UK)
  109. Joel Whitebook (The Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research,
    Columbia University)

Read a preface to this open letter by James E. Miller, Executive Editor at Public Seminar.