Vol. 2 No. 1 (2024): Abolitionist Perspectives in Social Work

Speaking Against Silence: Examining Social Work’s Response to Genocide

Published 06/17/2024 — Updated on 07/20/2024



  • Repression,
  • Genocide,
  • Palestine,
  • Values,
  • Silence


Since October 7, 2023, the world has witnessed Israel’s unrelenting mass assault against the people of Gaza, killing more than 37,000 Palestinians. The response to this genocide in most sectors of professional society has largely been one of denial and suppression of solidarity with Palestine, unveiling extremes of the longstanding Palestine exception in progressive politics. This article contextualizes the social work profession’s response to Israel’s ongoing genocide of Palestinian people after October 7, 2023, including responses from schools of social work, social work agencies and organizations, and academic journals. This examination finds that social work institutions continue to engage in three primary silencing tactics: passive silence, active repression, and the drawing of false equivalences. Despite the profession’s pervasive silencing, many of us in social work continue to engage in efforts toward a free Palestine, aligned with the profession’s stated values. This article highlights and juxtaposes the grassroots efforts of social workers and social work students for a free Palestine with the repression from our professional institutions. We demonstrate a range of existing and emerging possibilities for sustained solidarity among social workers seeking to end rather than manage state violence, with Palestine as no exception.