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.
After hard-fought battle, students celebrate divestment vote victory at UC San Diego
By Ali Abunimah
After a hard fought battle, Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) claimed a major victory last night when the Associated Student Council passed a resolution calling for divestment from companies profiting from Israeli occupation.
The result – 20 in favor, 12 against and 1 abstention – was announced to loud cheers, the video above shows.
The resolution, proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine, is similar to recent resolutions passed at UC Irvine and UC Riverside and names Boeing, General Dynamics Corporation, Hewlett Packard, Ingersoll-Rand and Raytheon among other companies that “profit from Israel’s military occupation and violence against Palestinians in violation of international law and human rights.”
The vote is not binding on the university, but is 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.
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.
Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid
WHEREAS, it is UC Riverside’s duty to maintain the values of “respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, and empathy” which includes the promotion of human rights, equality, and dignity for all people without distinction;
WHEREAS, it is the mission of the UCR Foundation to “ensure the appropriate use of all funds” in order to uphold the values of respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment appreciation, and empathy;
WHEREAS, students have a legacy of standing against oppression and injustice at UC Riverside and across the United States.;
WHEREAS, the role of student activists in exposing South Africa’s apartheid system and supporting equality, freedom, and dignity sets an example for us to follow as students of global conscience;
WHEREAS, as the example of South Africa shows, it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, patriarchy, and Israel’s system of apartheid;
WHEREAS, South African apartheid was ended by a large movement of student governments across the United States and college systems world wide.
WHEREAS, let it be known that the University of California Riverside is a state funded school that is part of the state of California and thus a part of the United States who support the state of Israel.
WHEREAS, since the University of California Riverside is a public university, an environment of neutrality must be maintained in issues of high conflict.
WHEREAS, let it be known that resolutions regarding divestment of student funds only apply to funds/fees given to the UC system and disbursed to the University of California Riverside.
WHEREAS, the occupied Palestinian Territory is controlled militarily by the Israeli government;
WHEREAS, certain companies have promoted and been complicit in these ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government, which have been documented by human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International, Addameer, B’tselem, Adalah, Badil, and the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions;
WHEREAS, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated régime are contrary to international law”;
WHEREAS, according to the same ICJ decision, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem is also illegal by international law;
WHEREAS, according to the UN General Assembly’s application of the Fourth Geneva Convention to occupied Palestinian territory, the establishment and expansion of settlements “…in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially settlement activities…remain contrary to international law and cannot be recognized, irrespective of the passage of time”;
WHEREAS, a US Department of State official said that the US policy “on Israeli settlements has not changed and will not change. Like every American administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity.”;
WHEREAS, according to the UN General Assembly’s application of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the exploitation of natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territory is also illegal by international law;
WHEREAS, these violations of human rights and international law have been recognized and have resulted in the condemnation of the state of Israel by the international community in the UN Security Council, Human Rights Council Fact-Finding mission in Gaza, and the above mentioned governmental bodies and organizations, which consequently resulted in dozens of resolutions concerning the state of Israel (i.e. 106, 111, 127, 162, 171, 228, 237, 248, 250-252, 256, 259, 262, 265, 267, 270, 271, 279, 280, 285, 298, 313, 316, 317, 332, 337, 347, 425, 427, 444, 446, etc.);
WHEREAS, our university invests in, and thereby profits from companies, which have an active role in the human rights abuse and institutionalized structural violence against the Palestinian people, thereby making it a complicit third-party;
WHEREAS, these companies have been previously engaged by various solidarity campaigns and concerned investors about their complicit involvement in the previously mentioned human rights violations of the Palestinian people to no avail;
WHEREAS, the following illustrative and non-exhaustive list of companies, which the university invests in, plays a role in these human rights violations;
WHEREAS, Caterpillar has helped sustain the occupation by providing engineering tools and bulldozers to destroy Palestinian houses, neighborhoods (in refugee camps), agriculture, and water cisterns;
WHEREAS, Caterpillar has also provided engineering tools and bulldozers to expand illegal settlements and construct the Wall and checkpoints;
WHEREAS, Cement Roadstones Holding (CRH) has also contributed to the construction of military checkpoints, the Wall, and the settlement enterprise by providing cement and other building material;
WHEREAS, CRH and Cemex have supplied building materials used to build illegal settlements, the Wall, and checkpoints;
WHEREAS, Cemex also illegally owns and operates manufacturing plants in West Bank settlements, exploiting Palestinian natural resources in violation of international law;
WHEREAS, General Electric Company (GE) manufactures and supplies engines for A64 Apache Helicopters, systematically used by the Israeli military; in attacks on Palestinian civilians which constitute severe human rights violations and war crimes;
WHEREAS, Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) has supported restricting the freedom of movement of the Palestinian peoples within the West Bank by providing biometric identification systems used in the Israeli military checkpoints;
WHEREAS, Raytheon’s guided missiles were used to ruthlessly level civilian dense regions during Operation Cast Lead;
WHEREAS, Sodastream operates its main manufacturing plant in an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank;
WHEREAS, L-3 Communications has provided the Israeli occupation with equipment used in military checkpoints throughout the occupied West Bank, used to promote the dehumanization and humiliation of the Palestinians; to take away Palestinian freedom of movement between Palestinian towns and cities; to fragmentize and strangle the Palestinian economy;
LET IT BE RESOLVED, that ASUCR will further examine its assets and UC assets for investments in companies that a) provide military support for, or weaponry to, support the occupation of the Palestinian territory or b) facilitate the building or maintenance of the illegal wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes, or c) facilitate the building, maintenance, or economic development of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory;
LET IT FURTHER BE RESOLVED, that we call upon, our university, the University of California Treasury, and the UCR Foundation to divest their holdings from these aforementioned companies;
LET IT FURTHER BE RESOLVED, that if its found that UCR funds or UC funds are being invested in any of the above mentioned companies, UCR will divest, and will advocate that the UC system divests, all stocks and securities of such companies with the goal of maintaining the divestment, in the case of said companies, until they cease these specific practices. Moreover, UCR will not make further investments, and will advocate that the UC system not make further investments, in any companies materially supporting or profiting from Israel’s occupation in the above-mentioned ways;
LET IT FINALLY BE RESOLVED, that we, the students, call upon our university to dissociate itself from groups or companies that promote systematic prejudiced oppression, whether this system targets people based on their religion, gender, race or orientation, by divesting from companies that participate in or profit from human rights violations.
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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UC Irvine student government officially signs resolution urging divestment from human rights abuses in Palestine
(IRVINE, CALIF., 11/27/2012) – Two weeks after the unanimous approval in a 16-0-0 vote by the Legislative Council of the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine (ASUCI), executive members of ASUCI have officially signed Resolution 48-15, calling for the divestment of university funds from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies.
In the past two weeks many opponents and proponents of the resolution voiced their opinions to the student government in a series of transparent public forums. Despite pressure from the UCI administration and special interest groups to retract their position, the student government leaders remained resolute in their decision to pass the legislation. Demonstrating courage and persistence, UCI students and student leaders have sent a strong statement in support of the oppressed indigenous population in Palestine by rejecting the university’s investments in companies that profit from occupation and apartheid.
“We are looking forward to working with the University of California, UCI administration and the UCI Foundation on addressing the students’ demands for stronger ethical standards in regards to university investments,” stated Sabreen Shalabi, coauthor of the resolution. “We refuse to be complicit in horrendous violations of human rights and international law and we urge the University to join the students in upholding the University’s values and principles.”
The recent series of attacks against the Palestinian population in Gaza is a timely reminder of the important role that UCI students play as socially conscious citizens. In light of this human tragedy, it is important to expose the complicity of universities, companies, and governments in violating human rights and international law. For example, one of the subjects of the bill, Raytheon, was the provider of missiles used in bombardments of residential areas during the Israeli military’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. This resolution calls upon UCI students and staff to critically reflect upon their role as individual consumers, taxpayers, and citizens in further perpetuating the violent and inhumane policies of an apartheid regime.
UC Irvine students pass historic legislation urging divestment from human rights abuses in Palestine
(IRVINE, CALIF., 11/13/2012) – In an historic move that could initiate a domino effect across America’s campuses, the Associated Students of UC Irvine voted unanimously to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including from companies that contribute to illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.With 16 votes in favor, 0 abstentions, and 0 opposed, the elected undergraduate student representatives of the University of California Irvine unanimously passed a resolution urging the University to withdraw its investment funds from Caterpillar, General Electric Company, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, and other companies profiting from human rights violations in the occupied territories. The students also pledged to further examine UC assets for investments in companies that profit from human rights abuses anywhere in the world. The resolution was drafted in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a means to force it to comply with international law and end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; allow Palestinian refugees their internationally guaranteed right to return to their homes and villages; and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Other divestment successes have occurred at Hampshire College and Evergreen State College, as well as the WeDivest campaign which focuses on pension fund giant TIAA CREF and has resulted in, among other things, the removal of Caterpillar from its Social Choice Funds. Sabreen Shalabi, the student representative on the legislative council for the school of social science and co-author of the legislation said, “I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our University. Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our Universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid.” Traci Ishigo, President of the Associated Student of UCI and a member of the UC Irvine Foundation, said “The decision made by ASUCI’s legislative Council tonight clearly shows the strength and integrity of students utilizing their collective power to protect human rights on a global scale and I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity.”