FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2015
San Jose State University Students Pass Resolution to Divest from Corporations that profit from the Israeli Occupation.
On Wednesday November 18, 2015, San Jose State University became the first California State University to pass a student government resolution to divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This was achieved in a 10-5-0 vote (10 yes, 5 no, 0 abstained)
During the hearing, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan), and other student organizations stood in solidarity with the black students of the University of
Missouri by raising their fists in the black power salute during the pledge of allegiance.
The Associated Students resolution calls on the Board of Directors of the Tower Foundation to remove San Jose State University’s holdings from four companies that play an active role in the human rights violations committed by the Israeli Government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This resolution is endorsed by 28 organizations, the vast majority of which are student organizations of diverse backgrounds. The first corporation mentioned in the resolution, Caterpillar, is responsible for supplying Israel with D9 bulldozers that are used by the governing regime to demolish Palestinian homes and violate human in rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
The second corporation mentioned in the resolution, Motorola Solutions, services the “MotoEagle Surveillance System” which is used by Israel to control Palestinian movement in vast “special security zones” which surround illegal Israeli settlements. Israel bans Palestinians from entering these areas, even if Palestinians own them, which in effect, confiscates land from Palestinians. Israel has implemented this system in over 20 illegal Israeli settlements, and has implemented this system at the illegal separation wall.
The third corporation mentioned in the resolution, Hewlett Packard, owns EDS Israel; which is a company that provides the Israeli ministry of defense with the Basel system. The Basel System is an automated biometric access control system, which includes a permit system for Palestinian workers, with hand and facial recognition, installed in checkpoints in the Occupied West Bank.
The fourth corporation mentioned, G4S, provides security services to businesses in the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. G4S has also provided full body scanners and luggage scanning equipment to various checkpoints throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The checkpoints in Qalandia and Bethlehem help sustain the illegal Israeli Annexation of Jerusalem.
The Associated Students of San Jose State University demands that the Board of Directors of the Tower Foundation end its complicity in human rights violations by divesting from the above companies that are complicit in the Israeli occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories. Students for Justice in Palestine would like to thank interim President Susan Martin and the rest of the San Jose State University administration for acknowledging the concerns of the student body and respecting the student’s right to freedom of speech and the discussion of thought provoking issues on the San Jose State University campus.
Students for Justice in Palestine, San Jose State University
The undersigned Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organizations across the West coast express their solidarity with and support for student activism in response to anti-Black racism at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) and other institutions of higher education. Our solidarity and support extends to Jonathan Butler, the student athletes at Mizzou who went on strike, students involved in #ConcernedStudent1950, and all other students who are mirroring this movement and responding to the nation-wide call for action.
As respondents to the call for Palestinian self-determination and full Palestinian social, economic, and political dignity– we recognize that the call for the recognition and fulfillment of these rights extends to all marginalized and disenfranchised peoples, and therefore, we cannot allow ourselves to be complicit in anti-Black racism. As fellow student activists, we fully support the measures taken by the movement of student activists that demand full respect for their dignity.
This nation was founded upon genocide and built upon the backs of slaves and the degradation and dehumanization of Black people. The racist system that this nation was created on is the same racist system that continues to negatively affect our fellow Black students today. Black members of our communities are continually disrespected, stereotyped, unjustifiably suspected, killed, physically and sexually harassed, and institutionally excluded and disenfranchised. It is their bare minimal right to rise up and amplify their voices, demanding respect for their humanity.
For these reasons, we pledge to work to our fullest capacity to stop being complicit in the anti-Black system that disenfranchises our fellow Black students and humans. We respond to the call to dismantle anti-Black racism by addressing it first and foremost in our own lives and activist spaces, in SJP and beyond. We call for full administrative cooperation with the demands of these students and activists. We call for a more serious attitude in response to anti-Black expression– be it microaggressions in classrooms, trivialization of anti-Black racism, or threats of physical harm. We urge our allies and the administrations in all institutions of higher education to take the necessary steps to ensure the full realization of the demands of their Black students and other students and communities of color.
Students for Justice in Palestine, California State University, Fullerton
Students for Justice in Palestine, Claremont Colleges
Students for Justice in Palestine, San Diego State University
Students for Justice in Palestine, San Jose State University
Students for Justice in Palestine, Santa Clara University
Students for Justice in Palestine, Stanford University
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, Berkeley
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, Los Angeles
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, Irvine
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, Riverside
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, San Diego
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, Santa Barbara
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of California, Santa Cruz
Students for Justice in Palestine, University of Southern California
Students for Justice in Palestine, Whittier College
For Immediate Release – October 23 2015
Member of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Santa Barbara Physically Assaulted While Protesting for Palestinian Lives Lost
An assailant physically assaulted a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UC Santa Barbara on October 15th, 2015, during an SJP protest for the International Day of Action for Palestine.
The assailant, who appeared to be another student, approached SJP members including Daniel Mogtaderi to engage in debate about a Palestinian child who was widely viewed on Youtube bleeding in the street while Israelis screamed epithets at him. Mogtaderi and the assailant argued back and forth until the assailant learned that Mogtaderi was recording the conversation. At that point he forcibly took hold of the phone, held on to the phone for some time, and shoved Mogtaderi two times before returning the phone and leaving the scene. Multiple witnesses observed the assault. Video of the conversation preceding the assault and its aftermath is available here.
SJP member and witness Edan Mehretu explained, “Our protest was peaceful, with signs made by students bringing to light the oppressive actions by the Israeli government taking place in occupied Palestine over the past month that has resulted in the deaths of ten children as young as two and thirteen years old. We were holding our signs, and talking with students, some who agreed with our message, and some who did not agree. While we were peaceful, we were met with blatant racism and violence.”
The SJP protest also called for justice for Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian American community member from Chicago who in 1969 was forced to give a false confession after Israeli officials raped her and tortured her for twenty days. The U.S. government recently prosecuted Odeh for immigration fraud and her case is currently under appeal.
Mogtaderi explained, “Before he assaulted me, the assailant was arguing that the killing and torture of Palestinian children is justified. When he realized I was recording our conversation, he slapped the phone out of my hand. I reached for the phone back, and he shoved me hard multiple times. Eventually the crowd convinced him to return the phone and he left. I went to health services to be treated for injuries to my back. It was disturbing.”
SJP strongly condemns acts of violence and the racist remarks and we expect no less than for UC Santa Barbara’s Administration to do the same.
This act of physical intimidation is not an isolated incident, but part of a long history of attempts to stifle the dissent of Palestine supporters – at our university and around the nation. Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights recently published a report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: a Movement Under Attack in the U.S., showing that they responded to nearly 300 incidents of suppression over the course of 18 months. Eighty-five percent of these incidents occurred on campuses, ranging from harassment, false accusations, baseless legal threats and outright censorship. At UC Berkeley in 2013, a student holding flyers that read “Israel is an apartheid state” was punched in the face and knocked to the ground. At UC Santa Barbara, SJP students have been threatened, spit at, and now assaulted by Israel advocates on campus.
For Immediate Release
SJP-West Welcomes University of California Regents’ Decision to Not Consider Harmful Re-Definition of Anti-Semitism
Wednesday July 22, 2015
The UC Regents will not be considering adoption of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism at its meeting today, after an outcry from students, graduate student workers, Jewish community members, and civil rights organizations. The UC Office of the President (UCOP) announced instead that, “…the Board of Regents will consider at its September meeting a statement of principles against intolerance, including, but not limited to, anti-Semitism and other types of intolerance.”
As SJP-West illustrated in its June letter to UC President Janet Napolitano, the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism dangerously conflates anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, mis-representing an issue of human rights as an ethno-religious matter. The Los Angeles Times recently editorialized in agreement with this position, highlighting the ways in which the State Department’s “overly broad and constitutionally dubious” definition would lead to confusion and conflation of pro-Palestinian speech with bigotry. While we reiterate our opposition to anti-Semitism as well as all forms of racism and bigotry, we believe that the State Department’s definition, if adopted, would ultimately harm not just efforts to advocate for Palestinian rights but also efforts to oppose anti-Semitism.
In addition to petitions and legal letters sent by SJP-West and other organizations, on July 7, 2015 SJP West, UAW-2865 (the labor union for Graduate Students and Workers of the UC schools), Jewish Voice for Peace, and various civil rights organizations along with UC students, faculty, and staff gathered in Oakland to protest outside the UC Office of the President. These groups asserted their disapproval of the possible adoption of the State Department definition of anti-Semitism at today’s meeting.
Robert Gardner, a current student at UCLA, expresses extreme relief at the fact that the UC Regents will not adopt this definition – for now. He explains, “Students shouldn’t be stigmatized as bigots because we oppose well documented abuses practiced against Palestinians by the Israeli government. This decision to drop consideration of the State Department definition is an important step because it shows that the Regents understand that our First Amendment right to engage in debate on campus is imperative to the integrity of the UC system. Moreover, it proves that when students come together and make their voices heard, we are able to overcome the pressures of powerful outside forces who seek to stifle and censor criticism of the Israeli government.”
Students report that administrators who fear controversy over Israel and Palestine try to restrict their activity. In the first four months of 2015 alone, Palestine Legal documented 60 cases of false accusations of anti-Semitism that were in fact incidents where students or faculty criticized policies of Israel. Statements made to the Jewish Daily Forward by one of the principal advocates of the State Department’s re-definition indicates that the definition is seen by some pro-Israel advocates as applying to nearly all forms of pro-Palestinian student speech that take place on UC campuses today.
Sophia Shalabi, a student at UC Irvine, notes that, “…refraining from the implementation of a definition that is strategically meant to silence Pro-Palestinian activists will allow students to continue advocating for the Palestinian voice that has been ignored by our administration.” Gardner predicted, “As we move forward within the upcoming academic year, Palestinian rights activists hope to engage in critical debate and continue to educate our fellow students about the Palestinian plight. This will now be a little bit easier.”
SJP-West is a coalition of Students for Justice in Palestine chapters across California. Find more at www.sjpwest.org.
On the evening of Thursday May 28th, the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis voted once again to pass a divestment resolution against companies that assist in the ongoing human rights violations in Palestine. Much like the passage of Senate Resolution 9 in January of this year, an overwhelming majority of senators voted ‘yes’ in support of SR 17 with a final vote count of 10-0-2.
Although SR 9 was deemed ‘unconstitutional’ by the UC Davis Campus Court back in February, the Divestment Community views this second victory as further affirmation of student concern in their university’s complicity with the Israeli occupation. The two resolutions are nearly identical with the exception that SR 17 includes direct ties to the resolution’s effects on ‘student welfare,’ which the Court felt was missing in SR 9. The almost undebated passage of SR 17 reflects the progress of student politics and ethics here at UC Davis over the past 3 years, while also keeping alive the tradition of students taking a stance on political issues.
This fight for justice has proved long and challenging as is every important issue. However, the community growth and dialogue that has emerged from recognizing that oppressed communities share the same struggles will always outweigh the adversities we have and will continue to face. Our work is far from complete, but we take this moment to celebrate this monumental step towards ending the University of California’s irresponsible and immoral investments.
We thank you for your unwavering support and your commitment to promoting justice everywhere.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis
We, Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as countless individuals from across the California Community College system, have banded together from all walks of life. We are a diverse coalition that consist of all people of every color, nationality, religion, etc. Despite these differences, what brings us together is our common human identity. That’s why we are greatly concerned about the human rights abuses in Palestine, and the thought that our college system could be complicit in such gross violations is unbearable.
For almost half a century, the Palestinian territories have been brutally occupied, which eventually resulted in the subjugation of millions of people, constructed on racial superiority and an illegal colonial network. The occupation, as documented by numerous human rights groups and multinational entities, results in some of the most horrid conditions. Conditions such as, but not limited to: water deprivation, segregation, racially-based legal systems, systematic home demolitions, and the restrictions against the freedom of movement, have resulted in one of the worst cases of systematic oppression gone largely unchecked. This system of abuse, as documented by many reputable organizations, including the United Nations, directly parallels the former South African system of Apartheid. This unjust system of human rights abuses has created an urgency amongst students throughout the community college system to take action in order to hold the Board of Governors accountable for any investments that profit from these abuses.
As a result, we, the students of the California Community College system, call upon the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC) to stand in solidarity with other California and National Universities by passing a resolution to divest from companies that profit from human rights abuses in Palestine. It is imperative that the college system examine it’s financial holdings to be certain that students aren’t paying their tuition dollars that in turn, is invested into certain companies that directly profit from the abuses in Palestine. Companies such as RE/MAX directly profit from the selling of segregated housing, and these housing units are illegal under international law. Others, such as Veolia, also profit from segregated systems such as roads and bus-lines. Lastly, companies such as Caterpillar Inc. profit from the systematic and discriminatory bulldozing of Palestinian homes, rendering thousands homeless.
As students of the community college system, we have an obligation to stand for justice and make a difference. The issues of the world are our issues, for we are the future leaders of the free world and retain a common human element that’s unlimited. Divestment from companies that profit from human rights abuses is nothing new. It is directly modeled after divestment from companies that profited from apartheid in South Africa, where Blacks fell victim to a system of colonialism, segregation, and White supremacy. Back then, millions of students in the State and across the Nation stood up and deplored investments in companies that profited from such a system. Now, students are rallying once again to ensure that our colleges are not invested into companies that are once again profiting from human rights abuses. We urge that the SSCCC, that has the privilege of representing all 112 of California’s community colleges, to stand on the right side of history by urging divestment from companies that profit from human rights abuses in Palestine—in which our tuition dollars is invested, and to send a message that human rights abuses are unacceptable no matter where they may be.
“Student activists at Pitzer College in southern California are risking administration sanctions this week to bring attention to Israel’s violations of the rights of Palestinians.
Members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) had constructed a mock wall on campus on Tuesday as part of their actions marking Israeli Apartheid Week — a global series of events intended to spark discussions on campuses about Israel’s occupation in Palestine and the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
On 27 March, the Pitzer administration warned SJP that their plans to construct the mock wall would be “in blatant defiance” of college policy. The mock wall is a colorful, sixty-foot-long replica of Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank, emblazoned with artwork, facts and statistics highlighting Israel’s violations of human rights.
By going forward with their creative direct action, Pitzer SJP could face punishment by the administration.
The administration seems to have come under pressure by on-campus Israel-aligned students who reportedly sent a letter of complaint in February to the Pitzer College Aesthetics Committee.
The group “anticipat[ed] SJP’s proposal to display the mock separation wall and claim[ed] that the wall is anti-Semitic and would make Jewish students on campus uncomfortable,” according to a letter to Pitzer’s administration sent by Palestine Solidarity Legal Support this week.
Noah Latkin, a member of SJP at Pitzer, told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday that “it wasn’t necessarily surprising” that the group has been singled out for scrutiny by the university.
“There was opposition to us even becoming a club,” he said. “People in the student senate labeled us as inherently anti-Semitic. We had to meet with the president of the student senate who asked us ‘how can we make sure you don’t offend people on campus?’”
Smears and attacks against Palestinian students and members of SJP are not new to students of the Claremont College consortium, which includes Pitzer.
In 2013, a professor at Pitzer’s sister campus Claremont McKenna College called a Palestinian student “a cockroach” during a mock checkpoint action on campus as part of Israeli Apartheid Week. The student, Najib Hamideh, attended Pitzer College and was a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. The professor, Yaron Raviv, is an Israeli citizen.”
Read more at The Electronic Intifada
Below is a letter drafted by several SJPs around the State of California in support of Claremont SJP’s right to display their wall:
To the University Administration:
SJP West, a coalition of Students for Justice in Palestine chapters across the West Coast, wishes to express its deep concern regarding the recent decision of Pitzer College’s Campus Aesthetics Committee to prohibit the display of a pro-Palestinian exhibit on campus. As part of its annual Israeli Apartheid Week activities, Pitzer College’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine planned to display a mock apartheid wall, similar to the one illegally constructed by the Israeli occupation on Palestinian land. The display of the mock wall is intended to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians who suffer a brutal occupation, which is partially funded by our American tax dollars. The students were not provided with any official justification for the college’s decision but there is ample evidence that the college prefers to suppress SJP’s message because it would make some students uncomfortable.
Banning the display is nothing short of censorship and constitutes a clear infringement on the First Amendment rights of Pitzer students, protected by California law and Pitzer’s own policies. In fact, the presence of a Campus Aesthetics Committee with an authority to disapprove certain forms of free speech on campus in itself raises serious questions about the openness of the campus to harboring a marketplace for the free exchange of ideas. Moreover, students have voiced concern that the display was possibly banned due to its content and after external political pressure. Such concerns are very alarming, providing further evidence for the presence of a chilling effect consequential to such actions, which can suppress the students’ legitimate, constitutionally protected exercise of free speech.
Similar mock walls are routinely displayed on campuses in California and across the nation without incident. We urge you to promptly resolve this matter and affirm the students’ right to display the mock wall. We will continue to work with Students for Justice in Palestine at Pitzer College to ensure that the rights of consciousness students advocating for human rights and social justice are not infringed upon on campus. We look forward to working with you to reach a remedy.
Sincerely the undersigned,
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Riverside
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley
Students for Justice in Palestine at LAVC
Students for Justice in Palestine at Occidental College
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Santa Cruz
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC San Diego
Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford University
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine