Statement from Nobel Peace Prize Winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
Your vote in support of “Divestment from companies that profit from apartheid” was an important statement of principle. The fact that companies are profiting from Israeli apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories and comfortable with dozens of discriminatory laws within Israel is appalling. I have seen the deeply troublesome apartheid conditions that Israel has created inside the West Bank with the dual standard of law that discriminates against Palestinians. It is unacceptable.
I urge you to stand firm for equality and human rights — as well as against racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism — and not to backtrack on your courageous vote. Just as we defeated apartheid in South Africa so can we defeat Israel’s brand of apartheid and help Palestinians and Israelis alike secure a future of peace and equality. Your vote is not insignificant. It is votes such as yours that created the wave of momentum toward freedom in South Africa and sped up that glorious day of justice and equality in my homeland. The same thing can happen again today in securing freedom for Palestinians.
Do not stand silent. Do not retreat. Do not back down. Stand firm in your principles and reject apartheid wherever it is practiced. Your courage is admirable as you put your university on the right side of history.
Statement from Pink Floyd member Roger Waters:
Dear Senators of University of California, Riverside,
Be strong, you are on the right side of the argument. It is always right to support the oppressed. The founding fathers, the authors of the constitution of these United States of America were right to avow that “All men have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
That sentiment includes The Palestinian and Israeli peoples, it includes Rachel Corrie, killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer, and all the other victims of the occupation on both sides. You are part of the first stirrings of protest, not against Israel, not against the Israeli people, not against Jews, but against the illegal, unjust, immoral,and inhumane policies of the Israeli government. I am proud of you and stand with you in solidarity.
With great respect
Statement of Support from Ofer Neiman:
To whom it may concern,
I am an Israeli Jewish citizen. I have been active in the campaign against my government’s apartheid policies for many years.
I am also the descendant of Holocaust survivors from Europe. My activism is based, to a large extent, on the universal lessons which should be drawn from this dark episode of history.
One of the lessons I have learned during years of activism here in Israel is that Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people are a part of an international power structure, In particular, these violations are sustained by the complicity of American companies, such as Caterpillar and HP. I strongly believe that companies which profit from the misery of millions (not just in Israel/Palestine) should be the target of divestment. I also believe that universities should be held to high ethical standards when it comes to their investment.
In view of this, I would like to express my strong support for the Riverside divestment initiative. I hope that supporters of equality and justice for the Palestinian people will stand firm in the face of Israeli propaganda efforts, which often involve the cynical use of the Holocaust to justify Israeli apartheid.
From the Electronic Intifada
Israel advocates upset about the recent passage of a divestment resolution at the University of California at Riverside have launched an intimidation campaign against the student senators who voted in its favor.
Members of the UC Riverside student senate have been inundated with calls and emails by Israel-aligned individuals and members of on-campus Zionist student groups following the passage of the resolution, who are claiming that the senators “misrepresented” the student body and that the resolution has made the campus atmosphere “more divisive,” according to a student senator who spoke to The Electronic Intifada by phone on Tuesday evening.
Vote to overturn divestment scheduled
In turn, it was recently announced that the student government has agreed to vote on to rescind the divestment resolution tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. If the vote passes with a majority, the divestment resolution will be up for a new vote all over again.
On 6 March, UC Riverside’s Associated Students resolved to urge the University of California’s treasury and administration to pull its current investments in companies which profit from Israel’s occupation. A week later, a similar resolution was passed by the student government at UC San Diego (and, following that, on 25 March, another divestment resolution was passed by the undergraduate student union at York University in Toronto, Canada). In California, since the UC Board of Regents — which is connected to the state government — controls the investments of the University of California system, and the Regents have no plans at this point to change their investment policies, these resolutions are mostly symbolic.
But as more divestment resolutions pass, they become, as EI’s Ali Abunimah put it, “another indicator of growing support for divestment among students, which is why Zionist groups have vigorously opposed such resolutions whenever they have been proposed and have supported draconian measures to suppress student activism at the University of California and other campuses.” Zionist organizations even recruited two local members of Congress to write letters asking student senators to vote against the resolution at UC San Diego.
Ahlam Jadallah, a student senator at UC Riverside and a member of the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, whose members were some of the main authors of divestment resolution, told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday that members of Zionist organizations on campus were employing “scare tactics” and making the senate “feel that they had made the wrong decision” by passing the resolution.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen [during Wednesday’s vote],” Jadallah said. “As of now, I’m still shocked and I really hope that the senators understand that these are scare tactics, and we made the right decision. We had nearly 40 student organizations who backed us up and stood by us at that meeting [when the resolution passed]. This is just a small group of students who are against it.”
She explained that she hopes her fellow student senators stay committed to the vote they passed last month.
“I really want to remind every senator to have courage to stand up for what they voted for and not to feel that they made the wrong decision. We never said this was going to be easy … Being a senator is not easy. When we took up this opportunity, we never said that this was going to come without criticism.”
As for the Zionists’ argument that this divestment resolution has made the campus climate “more divisive,” it’s important to note what a student at UC Riverside and member of SJP said during our interview on the EI weekly podcast on 8 March:
Being neutral is divestment. Because right now, we currently invest in only one side of this apparently two-sided conflict, in their eyes. And that the solution was either to begin investing in Palestinian companies, which is obviously not feasible, or to disinvest from both sides and stay completely out of it, by the choices of students — which it was.
To the Student Government of Stanford University,
J Street strongly opposes the views and positions such as those captured at the Palestinian BDS National Committee’s website, www.bdsmovement.net. As laid out in that site, the BDS movement fails to explicitly to recognize Israel’s right to exist and it ignores or rejects Israel’s role as a national home for the Jewish people. In addition, the promotion by some in the BDS movement of the return to Israel of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their families indicates support for an outcome incompatible with a two-state solution to the conflict.
J Street recognizes the legitimate and urgent concerns related to peace, justice and human rights that have motivated calls on college campuses and beyond to boycott certain Israeli products or divest from U.S. companies that support continuing Israeli policies of occupation and settlement expansion, or for governments to impose sanctions on Israel. We recognize that the sluggish pace of diplomatic progress toward a two-state solution motivates some of these efforts. However, the urgent need for peace will not be reached through alienation. J Street believes that a peace resolution will be reached through international, and more specifically regional, cooperation. Long-term progress will be achieved through diplomatic means, not isolation.
We oppose the occupation of the West Bank and the expansion and entrenchment of settlements there. We also oppose encroachment on Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem, which must be part of a future Palestinian capital if a two-state outcome is to be achieved.
J Street believes, however, that these legitimate concerns are best addressed through urgent pursuit and implementation of a two-state resolution to the conflict. A two-state resolution is, in our view, the only way for Israel to guarantee long-term international recognition and security.
For these reasons, J Street urges that you vote against the BDS resolution under consideration.
March 5, 2013
Associated Students of the University of California, San Diego Associated Students Department
9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0077
La Jolla, CA 92093-0077
To the Council of the Associated Students of the University of California, San Diego:
As elected officials of UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC), we are writing to you to urge you to reject the “Resolution in Support of the University of California, San Diego Corporate Accountability through Divestment from Corporations Profiting from the Illegal Occupation, Siege, and Blockade of Palestine” on March 6, 2013.
We deem this resolution inappropriate and unacceptable because, based on over four hours of public comments made last week, it is clear that the resolution is not representative of the views of the majority of the student body and marginalizes a significant number of your constituents. As your students explained, the resolution contains many accusations about Israel that are factually incorrect, taken out of context, and can be regarded as genuine attacks on institutions many UCSD students value. Furthermore, this resolution explicitly delegitimizes aspects of Jewish and pro-Israel students’ identities. The adoption of this resolution sends a clear message that these students are unwelcome on such a respected institution’s campus.
In response to UCSA’s September 17, 2012 “A Resolution Regarding California Assembly Bill HR 35,” sixty undergraduate elected student officials across the University of California signed a letter to the UCSA Board of Directors about the divisiveness and harm that such resolutions cause amongst students.
As elected officials ourselves, we understand the careful balance between doing what is right for our campus and making our constituents feel safe. We understand that each campus is different and it is your decision as to what is best for your students. However, we strongly urge you to take into account the opinions of many of your constituents and fellow UC elected officials who feel the resolution at hand is not appropriate.
Thank you for your consideration,
David Bocarsly, President
Andrea Hester, Internal Vice President
Kim Davis, Academic Affairs Commissioner Sahil Seth, Financial Supports Commissioner Stephen Kraman, Facilities Commissioner Michael Starr, General Representative 1
Earlier in the 2012-2013 academic year, UCLA’s Academic Senate was asked to make a recommendation regarding the Campus Climate Reports. It distributed the reports to its committees for review. The Undergraduate Council’s negative recommendation was recently made public, and is copied below. Shortly after this letter was issued, the Academic Senate dropped its review of the Reports and declined to issue any formal findings.