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.
Dear UC Davis Community members,
A trial by the UC Davis Campus Court was held on 2/18 regarding the legality of Senate Resolution 9 under the constitution of ASUCD. This student court ruled in favor of nullifying the resolution, which was a call for UC Davis to divest from corporations that are complicit with Israel’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people, on the grounds that the resolution didn’t directly affect “student welfare” on campus and was “primarily a political document.”
Yet SR #9, deemed too “political” for the ASUCD to vote on, is similar to past resolutions including the call to divest from Apartheid South Africa and Sudan. Thus this court ruling was highly selective and politically biased in targeting only divestment from Israel. It also suggests that the welfare of UC Davis students who are Palestinian and their families who are displaced from Israel or targeted by Israeli violence and restrictions on freedom of movement, freedom to education, and freedom to live does not matter. Palestinian Lives Matter!
The verdict attempts to silence not only pro-Palestine activists on campus who are personally affected by UC Davis’s complicity with Israeli occupation and apartheid, but also future student activists who organize grassroots movements and participate in ASUCD’s democratic process. It is a tactic of campus ‘lawfare’ similar to that used by national Zionist groups to undermine the BDS movement. But this procedural maneuver cannot change the clear student consensus in favor of divestment for human rights.
Students for Justice in Palestine considers this court ruling invalid because it would infringe on free speech rights to disallow “political” statements and because the ruling attempts to override the democratic process that operates in ASUCD. This discriminatory and repressive verdict will not be accepted by the SJP community, and there will be an organized response to this injustice. The fact is that the divestment movement has won at UC Davis, and we and the Palestinian rights movement stand by this victory.
STANFORD, Calif. – The Undergraduate Senate of Stanford University just voted on a resolution to divest from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The resolution, entitled A Resolution to Divest from Companies Violating Human Rights in Occupied Palestine, called on the University to divest from multinational corporations facilitating human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian territories. The vote followed a four-hour long Senate hearing and ended with 9 senators voting yes, 5 voting no, and one abstention.
“Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine commends university senators who voted in favor of the divestment resolution and aptly represented their constituents,” said EKela Autry. “As members of Stanford community, we are proud to be in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We resolve to continue our commitment to justice as a vehicle for peace. No rest ‘till we divest!”
“It was a victory that a majority of the Senate supported the text of the resolution,” said Manny Thompson. “This is indicative that the conversation around the occupation of Palestine is shifting, something we’ve witnessed in our monthss of campus work.”
The resolution focused on multinational corporations and identifies multiple actors as being complicit in the violations against Palestinians living under occupation, including the governments of Israel, Egypt, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority. The resolution stated that the Undergraduate Senate is not connected to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The resolution affirmed both Israelis and Palestinians’ rights to life, safety, and self-determination.
“The senators’ internal discussion of the resolution preceding the vote was incredibly calm and reasoned,” said Sid Patel. “We applaud our senators for having such a nuanced conversation, recognizing that this issue is not black and white, and we appreciate that they took into account the perspectives of the entire community.”
On Tuesday evening, over 400 hundred Stanford students and affiliates gathered in the Tresidder Oak Room to witness the Undergraduate Senate vote on the divestment resolution brought forth by the Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) coalition. The diverse coalition consists of 19 student groups including the Black Student Union, MEChA, and Stanford Students for Queer Liberation. The resolution called on the University to evaluate its investments and divest from companies fitting the following criteria:
- Maintaining the illegal infrastructure of the Israeli occupation, in particular settlements and separation wall.
- Facilitating Israel and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians.
- Facilitating state repression against Palestinians by Israeli, Egyptian or Palestinian Authority security forces.
Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine came together in pursuit of selective divestment as an effective response to the call from Palestinian society for university students to exert pressure for an end to the violations of their basic human rights. Over the course of six weeks SOOP’s campaign gathered immense student support; over 1600 students signed SOOP’s petition and about 400 supporters gathered at Tuesday’s hearing.
Student organizers point to the growing number of student associations that have chosen to take a step towards ending their institutions’ complicity in the violation of Palestinian human rights. On Sunday, the University of California Student Association System voted in favor of two divestment resolutions calling for an end to the system’s investments in Palestinian suffering.
“The campus movement for Stanford to divest from companies complicit in the suffering of the Palestinian people will continue,” said Autry. “As long as Palestine is occupied, our work must continue.”
6th UC to officially pass divestment, 7th campus to hold a majority vote. Davis joins UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine as officially supporting divestment.
“At tonight’s (Jan. 29) ASUCD senate meeting, Senate Resolution (SR) #9 passed with an 8-2-2 vote. The text of SR #9 calls for the University of California (UC) Board of Regents to divest from “corporations that aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, violating both international humanitarian law and international human rights.” ASUCD voted down a similar resolution this past May.
With the passing vote, ASUCD formally recommends the UC Regents to divest from American companies Caterpillar Inc., G4S PLC, Veolia Environment and Raytheon.
Over 550 UC Davis students, staff and faculty members attended the senate meeting, which was called to order at 8:57 p.m. in the Sciences Lecture Hall 123.” Read more at The Aggie.
For Immediate Release – December 10th, 2014
HISTORIC: UAW 2865, UC STUDENT-WORKER UNION, BECOMES FIRST MAJOR U.S. LABOR UNION TO SUPPORT DIVESTMENT FROM ISRAEL BY MEMBERSHIP VOTE
IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINIAN WORKERS AND STUDENTS.
65% of VOTING MEMBERS APPROVE CALL FOR DIVESTMENT;
52% pledged to support academic boycott
“This is a decisive victory for justice for Palestinians. After months of campaigning, we are inspired that so many members participated in this vote and made their voices heard. This is a testament to our membership’s engagement with matters of social justice. This vote was a first step in our commitment to solidarity with Palestinians under occupation and facing discriminatory laws, and we will continue to take steps to make that solidarity concrete as part of our involvement in anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles broadly.” –Kumars Salehi, member
“We are committed to linking student and labor movements in the United States to student and labor movements in other parts of the world, including Palestine. As student-workers fighting the attacks on education here in California as well as the decades-long crackdown on labor in the U.S. generally, we know that international labor solidarity makes us stronger and we support Palestinian students, workers and broader society in their decades-long struggle against dispossession, occupation and apartheid.” –Loubna Qutami, member
UAW 2865, a labor union representing over 13,000 teaching assistants, tutors, and other student-workers at the University of California, has become the first major U.S. labor union to hold a membership vote responding to the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli occupation and in solidarity with Palestinian self-determination. The vote passed, with 65% (almost 2/3) of voting members in support. Over 2100 members voted, a testament to union democracy.
The measure calls on
- the University of California to divest from companies involved in Israeli occupation and apartheid;
- the UAW International to divest from these same entities;
- the US government to end military aid to Israel.
- 52 % of voting members also pledged not to “take part in any research, conferences, events, exchange programs, or other activities that are sponsored by Israeli universities complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the settler-colonial policies of the state of Israel” until such time as these universities take steps to end complicity with dispossession, occupation, and apartheid.
1136 members pledged to observe the academic boycott, a reflection of the ways student laborers are taking concrete actions to practice solidarity.
In July, the union’s Joint Council, comprised of 83 elected officers across nine UC campuses, published an open letter outlining support for the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) “against public institutions and corporations that profit from Israeli apartheid and occupation of Palestinians.” This open letter announced it would seek a membership vote on the matter in the coming academic year. The UAW 2865 Joint Council took these steps in response to a call for solidarity from all major Palestinian trade unions, including the Palestinian University Teachers’ Association, The Joint Council’s open letter was followed by four months of internal debate prior to the election and deep engagement by members statewide.
The goal of the non-violent global BDS strategy is that Israel will end land confiscation and human rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, recognize rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel as over 50 Israeli laws currently discriminate against them, and respect the right under international law of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
UAW 2865 joins several labor unions in the United Kingdom and Ireland, UNITE New Zealand, CUPE in Canada, COSATU in South Africa and many dockworker unions around the world. It also joins growing grassroots voices in the U.S. labor movement including rank and file members of the International Longshore Workers’ Union Local 10 that supported community pickets and successfully blocked Israeli ships from unloading goods similar to their historic involvement in the anti-South African apartheid movement, and hundreds of labor organizers who signed onto the Labor for Palestine statement. Within the UAW itself, Local 2865 follows the precedent of Arab-American auto workers in Detroit in 1973 who protested the union’s purchase of Israeli bonds financing the seizure of Palestinian lands. Just as black workers at Polaroid in the U.S. launched a boycott of their company for helping make apartheid passbooks for South Africans, we support workers in other UAW-unionized industries in pressuring their employers to commit to socially responsible business practices so that the illegal occupation of Palestinians comes to an end.
The mostly graduate student worker union joins the undergraduate student governments of UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, and UCLA which have passed resolutions in support of divestment.
We are immensely grateful for the tremendous support from numerous individuals and organizations, including letters of support from over 700 supporters from Jewish communities, feminist and queer workers linking the campaign to repression against Palestinian-American feminist activist Rasmea Odeh, among letters from many other groups which were posted on a Facebook page in support of the measure.
For more information, please visit uaw2865.org.
Dear members of the UCSA Board,
SJP West is writing to voice serious concerns about the recent developments surrounding the student-regent designate, Avi Oved, and the possibility that he accepted a financial contribution from Adam Milstein during his political campaign in 2013. While Students for Justice in Palestine is an organization with views on Israel/Palestine and divestment that are at odds with those of Oved and his party slate, the issue at hand is not divestment, but the potential violation of transparency and ethicality so integral for a student representative to uphold. The evidence presented to date suggests that a student who will potentially be tasked with representing the entire University of California student body willfully undermined the democratic process by seeking outside funding from an individual with a partisan political agenda. This is profoundly troubling because it sends the message that student political favors are for sale and that the general student body’s needs may be of secondary importance to the desires of such off-campus political donors.
Despite political differences, all students should be able to know that our representatives are only answerable to student concerns and not those of outside entities. Student representatives must be solely accountable to their constituents. It is absolutely essential for these charges to be thoroughly ruled out: how can we hold state and federal leaders to account if we cannot even do the same for our own student leaders? We need to be absolutely certain that the student regent designate’s loyalties lie with UC students first and foremost and not with outside organizations.
Furthermore, we find Milstein’s public displays of racist and Islamophobic sentiment repugnant, and Avi Oved’s potential solicitation of funds from such a donor to be a matter of grave concern. Representing the UC’s diverse student body requires a student regent with a demonstrated commitment to openness and tolerance. Avi Oved’s refusal to distance himself publicly from this exchange suggests an incompatibility with these qualities. Even excluding the substantive content of Mr. Milstein’s beliefs, the possibility that the integrity of student government is being undermined by outside forces to further a particular political agenda is unacceptable and must be investigated thoroughly.
Finally, it is very alarming that Oved refused, for no apparent reason, to join the UCSA’s conference call specifically held for him to answer questions and be accountable to his constituents. In addition to this, his lack of explicit denial of accepting those contributions from Milstein and of the email’s authenticity are also disturbingly telling. Both participation in a conversation about these allegations and an assurance that the contributions did not take place would have been crucial to preserving student trust in their student regent-designate. An investigation is hence paramount to ensure that Oved is the right candidate for this position and that students can trust him to represent them fairly and transparently.
We hope that these allegations will be investigated in as scrupulous a manner as possible. The credibility of our student representation may very well depend on it.
Students for Justice in Palestine West
Jewish Voice for Peace at UCLA
By now, every student has heard the critiques before. We’re lazy. We’re entitled. We don’t want to take our eyes off our Facebooks or our butts off our couches. Yeah, we know.
UCR students have shattered that misconception…
We have been engaged in the world around us, making our voices heard by engaging in electoral politics and protesting when the political system didn’t listen. Nowhere was this more evident than during ASUCR’s recent meeting that discussed divestment. The senate chambers could not accommodate the turnout, so the meeting was moved to UNLH, UCR’s largest lecture hall. Over 150 students spent five hours during a week filled with studying and midterms to debate the merits of divestment. Students held posters high. Students made their case to their elected representatives. In short, students did exactly what participatory democracy expects of its citizens: We participated.
…Let’s not let the energy surrounding divestment be a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. The momentum of dialogue and conversation cannot cease with divestment. It must continue forward, with students carrying the banner to advocate for the issues they find important. Students can effect real change. We just have to be tenacious and energetic enough to seek it in the first place.
On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, AMCHA Initiative, StandWithUs, and company took the opportunity to delegitimize the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, as well as defame California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Professor David Klein at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting. AMCHA has claimed that he “has inappropriately used university resources on several occasions, including posting anti-Semitic pictures and text on a webpage hosted by CSUN and by using CSUN email for political campaign activity.” (1) Although a letter written by lawyers, Jim Lafferty and Liz Jackson, in September of 2013 provides ample support and clarification that Klein did not violate any CSU policies and was cleared of complaints by the CSUN administration as well as the California Attorney General (2), AMCHA continues the witch-hunt on BDS supporters, such as Klein.
Thanks to mobilization by Jewish Voice for Peace – Los Angeles (JVP – LA), Palestine activists banded together within a matter of a few days to stand up for academic freedom, the BDS movement, and human rights at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting. Representatives from JVP – LA and Students for Justice in Palestine – West (SJP – West), current and former CSU students, and CSU faculty were present to show solidarity with Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS and to protect Professor David Klein’s right to freedom of speech.
SJP – West’s official statement during public comment at the CSU Board of Trustees meetings is as follows:
Students for Justice in Palestine-West would like to thank you for your time today as we urge you to foster an environment tolerant of all speech, including the advocacy of Palestinian rights as well as the boycott of and divestment from corporations that are complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. Like the students who fought for the boycott of the apartheid regime in South Africa, we are a non-violent movement driven solely by a fundamental belief in universal human rights and their interconnected and unconditional nature.
As an academic institution, the CSU system has a responsibility to recognize and protect the right to education everywhere. In Palestine, access to education is impeded by the brutality of Israeli settlers and soldiers, military checkpoints and the wall, segregated academic institutions, as well as the denial of entry for international academics. As American students, we are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of our Palestinian counterparts. Boycott and Divestment is a means to ensure that all inhabitants of the region, regardless of their religion and ethnicity, live in an equal democratic society.
We applaud American academics who have used their freedom of expression to voice their concerns about the violation of Palestinian human rights, even in the face of coercion and threats.
Along with SJP – West’s statement, 6 others publicly voiced support for academic boycott and freedom, whereas 3 people tried to silence and criminalize that support.
A few days after the CSU Board of Trustees meeting, on Friday, January 31, 2014, CSU Chancellor Tim White issued a statement on behalf of the entire CSU system denouncing Asian American Studies Association, American Studies Association, and Native American Studies Association resolutions endorsing the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society to academically boycott Israel, which is currently being challenged by CSU faculty via petition.
Part of the chancellor’s official statement reads:
“Academic boycotts violate the basic tenets of higher education including academic freedom and scholarly dialog. Boycotts attempt to limit the unfettered creation, discovery and dissemination of knowledge vital to our tripartite mission of research, teaching and service. These characteristics are essential to preparing students with the analytical and critical thinking skills to lead in business, community, educational and civic organizations.”
To paraphrase, according to Chancellor White’s proclamation, academic freedom is important, but what he chooses to ignore are academic restrictions/limitations placed upon Palestinians living under occupation, within and outside of the borders of Israel. Because of these restrictions/limitations, Palestinians are not granted the academic freedom that Chancellor White expresses is part of the “basic tenets of higher education.” Also, contrary to White’s beliefs, an academic boycott of Israel would pressure the state to give equal and just access to education for everyone, which would further academic freedom rather than hinder it.
Despite much effort to stifle critical discussions and actions in relation to Israel by administrators and external organizations, students and faculty continue to push against the current by initiating BDS campaigns and developing Palestine activism on campuses within California (and beyond).
About a month has passed since the CSU Board of Trustees meeting and within that month, a BDS campaign has sprung into action at San Diego State University (SDSU):
Website: SDSU Divest Webpage
Facebook: SJP SDSU
There is no doubt that the BDS movement is growing, is being noticed, and it will not be stopped.
2 National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles & Center for Constitutional Rights. 22 September 2013. http://palestinelegalsupport.org/download/NLG%20&%20CCR%20Letter%20to%20CSU%20trustees%20re%20Prof.%20Klein%20website.pdf