Saturday, April 24, 2010
"Divestment movements are also gaining steam at the University of Arizona, Brown University...and Georgetown University"
Friday, April 23, 2010
From Wayne State, the divestment movement spread to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, to Wisconsin, and to Berkeley.
Now divestment is spreading across U.S. campuses, even to this morning's Pomona College newspaper --
THE STUDENT LIFE
April 23, 2010
The UC Berkeley student senate voted 16-4 last month to pass Bill 118: A Bill in Support of ASUC Divestment from War Crimes. The vote followed intense campaigning and hours of deliberation which included testimonies from many on both sides of the issue. It underwent some back-and-forth, which included being vetoed by Senate President Will Smelko. Then an attempt to override the veto (requiring a two-thirds majority) fell short with a 12-7-1 vote. A motion to reconsider the vote was ultimately tabled.
The bill has garnered support from such notable figures as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, and activist author Naomi Klein. However, it has also come under fire for singling out Israel by supporting divestment from General Electric and United Technologies, companies that provide it with military aid and weaponry. It is true that the bill focuses on Israel, but the discrepancy here is simply in the overly broad wording of the title, not in the actual content of the bill.
The bill cites reports from Amnesty International (A.I.) and the U.N. that demonstrate how weapons supplied from the companies in question have been used by Israel in crimes such as the killing of medical aid workers and the bombing of a school. Included in the sources was an A.I. report about Israel’s illegal use of white phosphorous in civilian areas. It is an innately indiscriminate weapon which burns the skin through to bone and doesn’t stop as long as oxygen is present. Israel initially denied using the weapon, only to admit to it later. A U.N. report describes events such as the following: “The Israeli air force killed two Palestinian children and seriously injured two others when one of its aircraft fired a missile at a group of Palestinian children who were sitting in a street near Rafah. An Israeli military spokesman admitted responsibility for the attack and claimed that it was targeting members of Palestinian armed groups.”
It is difficult not to question the humanity of a nation that would commit such acts. What’s mind-blowing is that the United States and so many companies think it’s a good idea to reward such behavior with military aid. Now one might wonder: Doesn’t Hamas also use illegal and often devastating methods? Yes, but that’s why we call them a terrorist group, and we certainly don’t provide them with weapons like we have with Israel.
A primary criticism of the bill, and a major reason Smelko chose to veto it, is that it is one-sided in its singling-out of Israel. Opponents highlight cases of other countries or groups that commit war crimes that ought to spur divestment. However, the fact that other countries also engage in criminal behavior is no reason to excuse Israel’s actions. This is akin to the childish excuse that because everyone’s doing it, it must be acceptable. Yes, other violators should also be targeted—and they are. The UC Berkeley senate has indeed focused on other countries; for example, a past bill encouraged divestment from Sudan, and Bill 118 includes a call for divestment policies from companies that aid war crimes throughout the world, including specific locations such as the Congo. The excuse utilized by the bill’s opponents is convenient and timeless because there will always be numerous problems in the world, and those who use this rationale will say we should fix all the other problems first. However, such an argument is simply dishonest in this case; referencing the Sudan bill alone shows that others have been targeted and that Israel is not some poor scapegoat just because this is the most recent or most controversial bill.
Of course, A.I. and the U.N. are not held in high esteem by many in the pro-Zionism camp, and no criticism of Israel goes unquestioned (though, curiously, support often does). Many of the crimes cited in the bill are explained in detail in the Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (more commonly known as the Goldstone Report after Richard Goldstone, who headed the mission). As is routine for works critical of Israel, this report has come under fire for virulent anti-Semitism. (To be fair, Arabs are Semites too, but that’s a matter for another discussion.) This knee-jerk tendency to label any and all opposition to Israeli policies or actions with the stain of prejudice has been overused; the labels are thrown around so wantonly that we’re at a point where it’s difficult to take them seriously.
There is nothing in Goldstone’s history to suggest that he is a self-hating Jew (another popular catchphrase that has been applied to groups including New Profile, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Shministim). The man is a Jewish South African judge who has worked on tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and has “very deep ties to Israel” according to former Israeli Supreme Court president Aharon Barak (Haaretz). He has never shown any signs of anti-Semitism in his past, and there is no compelling reason to think he is starting now. Goldstone is only being ostracized because of what he dared to investigate and write about, and the campaign to detract from the credibility of his report is frightening in its implications for critical evaluation. Relating this case to the Berkeley vote, a Jewish student senator who voted for the bill reported being accused of having a “cultural pathology” and feeling unsafe due to threats made against her after its passage.
This fear of the smothering of criticism is what makes Bill 118 all the more notable, and the fact that it came so far speaks volumes. It made it to this point with the help of a wide network of support. It was not supported only by Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine members, Arabs, Muslims, or whatever stereotypical group one might assume to be critical of Zionist policies. Rather, it united students from a plethora of ethnic and religious backgrounds and various political leanings. An 80 percent majority on the initial senate vote is quite an impressive feat, and the fact that deliberations lasted upward of nine hours and featured speakers from both sides is a promising example of inclusive decision-making. The bill is good for discourse because it challenges us to think critically about policies we might otherwise accept without question. A departure from blind, unquestioning support in favor of honest and critical evaluation can only be a good thing. Opposing injustice and military brutality is vital, regardless of whether it comes from our enemies, our allies, or ourselves.
More support for divestment at Brown University:
by Jonathan Ben-Artzi
April 22, 2010
BROWN DAILY HERALD
by Jewish Voice for Peace
April 22, 2010
On the Web at:
The following is an action call from Jewish Voice for Peace in support of the historic BDS vote at the University of California’s Berkeley campus, which will take place on April 28.
Every so often, we get a moment when a remarkable future starts to unfold before our eyes. And when it happens, it’s our responsibility to do everything within our power to help it along.
One of those moments is happening right now, unbeknownst to most of the world, on the University of California’s Berkeley campus.
Berkeley professors and students of every race, religion, and nationality are standing courageously side by side and calling on the university to divest from companies that profit from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. In March, the student Senate voted 16 to 4 to divest. Then, the Senate president vetoed their vote and last week, after 10 life-changing hours of testimony that lasted through the night, the vote to overturn the veto was tabled.
In six days, on April 28, the students will again try to overturn the veto. That’s how many days we have to demonstrate our support and solidarity with these amazing people who are standing for justice for all people in Palestine and Israel. I urge you to stand with them – to let them know that they are not alone.
What happens over the next week in Berkeley is critical, not just for the movement there but for the burgeoning movement around the country. Once again, Berkeley is a birthplace of a movement that could change the course of history. Students all over the United States are watching closely, learning, and preparing a massive divestment campaign the likes of which hasn’t been seen in decades. Important? World-changing? Without a doubt.
Last week, I was there during the first attempt to overturn the veto when nearly 900 people packed the room. We were Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Israelis, Christians; grandmothers and students and everyone in between – the majority in support of divestment. This next vote is even more critical. Most of us can’t be in the room when UC students hold their vote, but we can and must be represented. Our diversity, our staunch support, and our commitment must be represented.
Last week, hundreds in the room wore bright green stickers that said “Another (fill in the blank) for human rights. Divest from the Israeli occupation.” We want your name on those stickers next week.
The truth is that the students at UC Berkeley have already won, building on the efforts of students at Hampshire College and the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus. They have secured support from an unprecedented range of people including Nobel prize winners, rabbis, world renown scholars, Israeli and Palestinian peace groups and more. There has never been a debate on an American campus like the debate these students have made happen.
But with your voice, they can make it to the finish line.
Thank you in advance for you help today. These students are making history – and I’m grateful we can count on you to help.
Board President, Jewish Voice for Peace
P.S. We know that those who oppose progress are working to maintain the veto – we need to demonstrate just how widespread support for divestment is. Please spread the word and send everyone to www.StandWithStudents.org. Thank you.
P.P.S: After you sign, please watch this remarkable UC Berkeley testimony from last week by visiting student Ibrahim Shikaki from the West Bank. You can also read JVP’s position on the bill, download some of the statements of Jewish support, and read our report of last week’s hearing.
Bill Would Pave the Way to Peace:
Divestment Is the Right Way to Go, and the ASUC Should Not Be Distracted From Overriding Veto
by Rick Sterling
DAILY CALIFORNIAN (University of California at Berkeley)
April 23, 2010
As a 21-year veteran UC Berkeley staff member, I was pleased to see the ASUC resolution calling for divestment from companies profiting from war crimes in general and Israeli war crimes in particular.
As they debate overturning the veto and restoring the resolution, I hope ASUC senators will not be confused by those who attempt to divert or change the issue.
1. Should ASUC speak out on international issues? Yes. UC students, faculty, staff and regents have all done this in the past. Just four years ago, the UC Regents called for divestment from corporations invested in Sudan.
2. Will divestment have negative financial consequences? No. Divesting from a few corporations has little to no effect on the portfolio.
3. Should ASUC speak out against Israeli war crimes in particular? Yes, because Israel receives enormous diplomatic, financial and military aid from the US, more than any other country. If there are crimes being committed, in some ways we are responsible.
4. Will we be the first to divest? No. Hampshire College divested last year and huge organizations such as the Danske Bank of Denmark and Norwegian Pension Fund have divested. This is truly a world wide movement.
5. What is the evidence of war crimes? It is compelling and comes from groups ranging from Amnesty International to the UN's Goldstone Report to the personal testimonies of Israeli soldiers.
6. Is this issue "too controversial" and "divisive?" Challenging the status quo is always controversial. In the 1980's calling for divestment from Bank of America because of their loans to apartheid South Africa was controversial. Even during the Free Speech Movement there were many students who did not agree with Mario Savio. In the short term it was divisive but in the long run it was progress.
7. Is the resolution "biased" or an "attack" on Jewish members of the community? On the contrary, progressive Jews are leaders in the struggle against Israeli war crimes. One example internationally is Sir Gerald Kaufman, who has been a British member of Parliament for 27 years. In reaction to last years Israeli assault on Gaza he said, "My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza."
8. Does the resolution help or hurt the cause of peace? Here again, the South African model is relevant. While divestment and boycott campaigns are contentious, they are fundamentally non-violent. They help to bring change and progress by stopping the injustice with minimal bloodshed. The ASUC resolution is very much in this tradition.
9. In the 1980s, the university divested from companies doing business with South Africa. But is Israel really comparable? Every country and situation is different, but President Jimmy Carter wrote a book about apartheid in the Occupied Territories and the Nobel Peace Prize winning Bishop Desmond Tutu recently said "I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa."
10. Finally, is the resolution "anti-Israel?" This assertion is similar to those who say you are "anti-American" if you criticize US foreign invasion and occupation. No, the resolution is against investing in companies that aid and abet war crimes.
The ASUC resolution is good because divestment from war crimes now will help prepare the ground for peaceful change in the future.The question should not be why does ASUC want to do this. The question should be: Why would objective people oppose it?
Thank you, ASUC, for helping to revive the awareness and reality that UC Berkeley is not just a leader in the sciences and humanities, it is still a leader in youth's quest for a better and more just world.
Divestment spreads to University of Wisconsin, Georgetown, Brown, and Irish trade union confederation--
"UC-Berkeley’s new divestment approach"
By Steve Horn
Univerisity of Wisconsin Badger Herald
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
...When divestment is called for, it is often shunned immediately, yet this time around in Berkeley, in the aftermath of the brutal Operation Cast Lead, the political tide has shifted. The debate, at least among liberals, has moved from “If you’re for divestment, you’re anti-Israel or anti-Semitic” to “There may be other, more effective ways as a liberal peace activist to oppose Israel’s human rights violations than divestment.” This is a huge — let me repeat, huge — step in the right direction.
...Divestment isn’t anti-Semitic because it has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with calling on Israel as a state to respect international law and human rights. The occupation does exist because both UN Resolution 242 and the Fourth Geneva Convention, among scores of other legal dictates, say that the occupation is illegal. And it makes sense to single out Israel, if for no other reason than our own government does, in the tune of over $3 billion per year in tax-payer funded military aid, which is more aid than we give any other country in the world — other than Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than we give to the entire continent of Africa.
In reality, divestment is one of the few ways student human rights supporters can make a difference in the Israel-Palestine conflict on a micro-level. The more specific and targeted the call for divestment, the better....
Financial support of repetitive human rights violations will no longer be tolerated. Not in our name.
"ICTU [Irish Confederation of Trade Unions] to seek ways to support sanctions against Israel"
The Irish Times - Saturday, April 17, 2010
by MARY FITZGERALD Foreign Affairs Correspondent
THE EXECUTIVE council of Ictu is to consider ways in which it can translate into action its support for Palestinian calls for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Attendees at an Ictu conference on the Middle East held in Dublin yesterday discussed possible ways of implementing such a campaign in Ireland.
Since 2007, Ictu has passed several conference motions in support of calls from Palestinian civil society groups urging an international BDS campaign against Israel.
Addressing yesterday’s gathering at Dublin Castle, Ictu president Jack O’Connor said he would be very concerned if Ictu’s stance was interpreted as being motivated by “hostility to the people of Israel”.
Instead, he argued, it was motivated by “a sense of obligation given our history and our experience . . . an obligation to try to do something when the prospects of justice seem so remote given the imbalance of forces” in the conflict.
Mr O’Connor rejected calls from some attendees for Ictu to sever links with Histadrut, the Israeli labour federation, which is opposed to the BDS campaign. Avital Shapira-Shabirow, director of Histadrut’s international department, prompted a lively exchange of views when she explained her organisation’s position during a panel discussion.
She argued that it was easy to outline “simplistic solutions” to complex situations from afar.
Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the global BDS campaign established in 2005, told the gathering that the boycott as a “moral obligation and political imperative”.
He noted that the campaign was gaining momentum internationally and he praised Ictu’s efforts.
“By holding onto its position and spreading the BDS message, and starting now to think how to apply it practically, Ictu is now applying a lot of pressure on the [Irish] Government and we hope that in time this will bring results.”
Mr Barghouti was one of several speakers to call for Ireland to exercise its veto to block Israel from joining the OECD.
...During one panel discussion at the conference, John Douglas, general secretary of the Mandate trade union, recalled the involvement of Irish retail workers in the boycott against apartheid-era South Africa and said his union would support a consumer-led boycott campaign against Israel followed by a worker-led effort.
“The time for silence is gone, action is required,” he told the gathering.
Down on divestment, shoutouts for Voice
April 19, 2010
GEORGETOWN VOICE (at Georgetown University)
"The majority of this week’s meeting of the Georgetown University Student Association Senate was spent considering the arguments of Georgetown, Divest!, which is pushing the University to divest from companies that profit from human rights violations in Israel and Palestine..."
The Georgetown, Divest! forum on University investment in Palestine and Israel
April 14, 2010
GEORGETOWN VOICE (at Georgetown University)
...Nonetheless, the campaign launch event, attended by roughly 40 people, pressed for the University to pursue selective divestment from several multinational corporations. Perry outlined the four categories from which the select companies could profit: “Operation on illegally occupied land, the construction and maintenance of the separation barrier, the facilitation of collective punishment including home demolition and land confiscation, and institutionalized discrimination.”
Georgetown, Divest! also called for the University to divest from the following corporations whose work they say falls within those four categories—Ahava, which is a cosmetics company, Motorola Israel, Roadstone Holdings and Riwal, both construction companies, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Veolia Transportation, and Mekorot, a water company.
“Georgetown University has a tradition of social responsibility. Its investment policies must reflect its foundational values … It is not acceptable for a university dedicated to justice and social responsibility to ignore these ideals in its investments,” Perry said.
Dr. Mark Lance, Professor of Justice and Peace, spoke after the presentation and compared the situation to apartheid-era South Africa.
“Every citizen of Israel has the legal nationality of Jewish or Arab. Imagine that the U.S. passed a law that there are white people and black people and that’ll be your nationality. Or Christians and Muslims. I take it that we would call it as it is—racist and evil,” Lance said. “We pay for it, and it’s extremely important to remember. Every person in this room pays for what you saw on this screen. Every person who pays taxes in this country supports this whether you like it or not.”
Father Raymond Kemp also lent his moral support to the campaign, citing the power of non-violent resistance within Catholic social teaching.
“I’m here to applaud you and stand with you. You’re in a great tradition,” Kemp said.
“It is no more anti-Semitic to boycott Israel than it is to say anti-white to boycott South Africa. We all know Israel has a tendency to call anything anti-Semitic,” said Shelley Fudge, a representative from Jewish Voices for Peace.
The group also held an open discussion forum, taking questions from the roughly forty-person audience.
Both Father Kemp and Dr. Lance said that officials from the Investment Office were misrepresenting the University’s long-standing commitment to social justice by claiming that they have no way of ensuring socially responsible investments.
“I’m stunned by it,” said Father Kemp...
Simon Liebling '12:
The right side of history
Published: Friday, April 16, 2010
BROWN DAILY HERALD
...As we think about ongoing grassroots movements, then, we must remember that the student activists who supported movements like South African divestment were not simply volunteers doing the legwork for a foregone conclusion — they were courageous supporters of an unpopular position. Thus, for all of the controversy that today surrounds calls to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, this divestment movement could, in retrospect, become the moral imperative of our time.
The moral equivalence is well established by those who were heavily involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement. Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes, “Yesterday’s South African township dwellers can tell you about today’s life in the Occupied Territories.” Elsewhere, he has written that the situation in the Occupied Territories “reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” Nelson Mandela has made similar comparisons. So did pro-apartheid officials in the old South African government, though they had slightly different intentions.
Divesting from companies profiting from the occupation, then, is as urgent now as it was to divest from companies profiting from South African apartheid in the 1980s. And as Tutu would remind us, we should not for a moment be put off by the controversy surrounding the issue.
Divestment is so imperative because it is a rare way of compelling governments to reform their ways when they otherwise operate with impunity, accountable to no one — as was the case with apartheid South Africa. The simple force of law has proved inadequate in the case of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Israel’s government has disregarded binding legal decisions from both the International Court of Justice and its own Supreme Court that declare the Separation Wall and other aspects of the occupation illegal — the Israeli Supreme Court has no recourse but to hold its own government in contempt time after time.
The Israeli government exhibits such wanton disregard for the rule of domestic and international law because there is no mechanism to force it to obey; it can count on the support of the United States government and the private companies that facilitate the occupation. Divestment, though, grants the international community the enforcement power it sorely needs; it is a way to compel Israel to respect both the law and basic human rights in the Occupied Territories...
"Wave of Divestment Resolutions Destroys Israel's legitimacy on campus!"
Published in Palestine Think Tank
March 19, 2010
University of California at Berkeley–
Student Senate votes for divestment against Israeli war crimes
UC Berkeley student senate passes divestment resolution
Download the text of the UC Berkeley Divestment Bill here.
"University of Sussex students vote to boycott Israeli goods"
November 27, 2009
"WHEREAS, that Israeli Army bulldozer ran her over twice,
"WHEREAS, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged us all to divest from Israel due to its violent and humiliating apartheid policies,
"WHEREAS, Israel was a long-time, close ally of White Apartheid South Africa,
"WHEREAS, the Wayne State University Board of Governors ("the Board") has knowledge of University investments, including what governments our University is paying taxes to by means of investment, and has the authority to seek such information from its fund managers,
"THEREFORE IT IS RESOLVED, that we ask the Board to immediately divest (dis-invest) our university from Israel,
"THEREFORE IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED, that we ask the Board for a report this semester, on its progress in divesting the University from its investments in Israel, including divestment from all companies doing business in Israel, and divestment from all stocks and pension funds which include those companies."
--The Wayne State divestment resolution is on the Web at:
Resolution for Ending Support to Israel:
The Human Rights Commission urged Ann Arbor City Council to also approve this Resolution.
Click on the Resolution to enlarge it._______________________________________________
"Arms Divestment and Cessation of US Military Aid to Israel"
A resolution of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and its MiddleEast Task Force
As persons of faith who believe in the equal worth and dignity of all people, we are distressed that Israelis and Palestinians have become locked in an escalating cycle of violence. We categorically condemn the taking of any life, Israeli or Palestinian. We are convinced that only the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a geographically and economically viable independent Palestinian state can bring peace to the Middle East and achieve the goal of two nation-states — Israel andPalestine — living peaceably side-by-side, with equality and security, possibly in a confederation.
We have long been dismayed by threats to the existence of Israel. We are equally dismayed by the continual military occupation and virtual colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers,the human rights abuses against Palestinians, and the destruction of the Palestinian economy. Devastation of the physical and social infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza — including the forcible eviction from anddemolition of homes — does not quell terrorism. It engenders more.
Such actions fuel deeper hatred of Israel in surrounding countries, while causing a major humanitarian disaster among Palestinians. And they leave Palestinians continually vulnerable to expulsion from the land in which they have been deeply rooted for generations. U.S. weapons and military funding are being used in these violations of human rights andinternational agreements. Americans of conscience must protest.
We do not have faith that governments alone will take the necessary actions to bring about a change in the Israeli government policies described above. We therefore believe that nonviolent civilian action is needed, aiming tolimit the present intense funding of Israeli military activities.
Accordingly, we will work with those groups who are calling on the governing bodies of our religious institutions, the City of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan, and our fellow citizens
* to use their influence to encourage the United States government to end its complicity in these violations of human rights by suspending it smilitary aid and arms sales to Israel, and
* to divest themselves from all companies that manufacture or sell arms and other military hardware to Israel, in order to bring about:
* Israel's compliance with United Nations Resolution 242, which calls for "the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in therecent (1967) conflict";
* Israel's compliance with the United Nations Committee Against TortureNov. 2001 Report (paragraph 53), which recommends that Israel's use of "thecrime of torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment orpunishment" must be prevented;
* Israel's cessation of settlement building and expansion, and itsvacating of existing settlements in the Occupied Territories in compliancewith the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states "The Occupying Power shallnot deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." (Article 49, paragraph 6, 1949);
* Israel's acknowledgment of the applicability of United NationsResolution 194 (1948) with respect to the rights of refugees, andacceptance that refugees should either be permitted to return to theirhomes and property or be justly compensated for their losses.
This statement is derived from multiple sources, including several university divestment petitions; and from members of the Middle East Task Force of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and thePalestine-Israel Action Group of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting.
"Call for Peace in the Middle East" by Ann Arbor Committee for Peace which later changed its name to Michigan Peaceworks.
[This Resolution calls for an End To US Military Aid to Israel until the Occupation Ends and ALL the settlements are dismantled]
Preamble: The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace recognizes that theconflict in Palestine/Israel is an issue of great concern in our community,around which emotions often outweigh objectivity.
We do not wish to contribute to the discord, but rather to unify people around common goalsof nonviolence and fairness. Our organization formed shortly after 9-11-01 to address issues of peace, civil liberties, and civil rights-particularly how these issues would be affected by the U.S. government military response to the 9-11 attacks. We consider a peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to be an important element in curtailing the cycle of violence worldwide.
Statement: Over the past two years, we have witnessed in grief and anguishthe appalling destruction resulting from the spiral of violence in theMiddle East. Violence will only beget further violence. We condemn in the strongest terms the practices that bring about the deaths of innocent people and the destruction of communities.
Fortunately, there are many who work for peaceful resolution of theconflict. These people and organizations give hope that future generationsof Israelis and Palestinians can live normal, secure lives, in peace witheach other. We support the Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, including the Bereaved Families for Peace, who call on their fellow citizens torenounce violence. We support the Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve inthe occupied territories. We support those from Israel and other countrieswho work with Palestinians to rebuild destroyed homes. We support the efforts of those states and organizations that have made proposals for a just peace, including the member states of the Arab League, which hascalled for normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for creationof a Palestinian state and a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
In solidarity with all those working for peace in the Middle East, we call for the following:
* An immediate end to the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza,and East Jerusalem;
* An immediate end to the violence on both sides, recognizing violence as including Occupation, military incursions, and suicide bombings;
* A full evacuation of all settlements with the exception of minornegotiated border adjustments;
* A just settlement for the refugees who have been forced by war toleave homes in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza;
* Establishment of the state of Palestine side by side with the stateof Israel with the boundaries established by UN Resolution 242;
* Social and economic justice and full legal rights for all citizens of both states;
* A major international effort to assist the reconstruction of Palestine;
* An end to U.S. military aid to Israel until the Occupation ends and the settlements are dismantled;
* Negotiations towards arms control and disarmament of weapons of massdestruction for the entire region;
* Recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel by all thecountries of the Middle East.
Adopted by the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace on November 11, 2002
Resolution to Divest in Principle and Practice, From Israel by the National Lawyers Guild
(Adopted by NLG National Convention 10/24/04)
WHEREAS the Israeli government with its illegal occupation and expansionist program in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip is engaged, and has been engaged in grave human rights violations including but not limited to:
the use of live ammunition on unarmed civilians (including men, women, and children);
massive and disproportionate use of force including the firing of missiles from Apache helicopter gunships against defenseless civilian populations;
illegal mass arrests and institutionalized torture (including men, women, and children); the willful destruction of agricultural land;
the deprivation of water;
forced malnutrition with concomitant health consequences including stillborn deaths and irreversible developmental damage to children;
the mass demolition of homes and confiscation of land;
hostage taking and extra-judicial assassinations;
denial of medical services to the sick and wounded;
the use of human shields (including children);
the targeting of schools, and hospitals;
the building of illegal fortified "Jewish-only" Israeli colonies/settlements on confiscated land connected by "Jewish-only" bypass roads, and the heavily subsidized transfer of hundreds of thousands of its own civilian population into these colonies/settlements;
WHEREAS the International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's Apartheid Wall violates international humanitarian law which governs Israel's administration of the Palestinian territories it has occupied since 1967 as well as the fundamental human rights of the Palestinians;
WHEREAS by virtue of, but not limited to, the Principles of the Nuremberg Charter and Judgment;
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights;
International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights;
The Geneva Conventions, in particular, but not limited to the 4th Geneva Convention, the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Protocol 1, Additional to the Geneva Conventions, as well as other international covenants and the general humanitarian principles of international law,
these acts constitute war crimes, and in some cases crimes against humanity.
WHEREAS, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 USC sec. 2304, provides that "no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights;"
WHEREAS, the UN General Assembly on October 22, 2003, reaffirming the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and …. reiterating its opposition to settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories almost unanimously, with the exception of the US, Israel,…
BE IT RESOLVED that the NLG seeks, in principal and practice, to support national and international campaigns to divest from Israel…and (a) support divestment campaigns to make full public disclosure of any and all investments it or other institutions have in Israel and of any and all profits earned from companies invested in Israel, and (b) either immediately divest from those companies, or cause such companies to disinvest from Israel until all of the following conditions are met:
1. Withdraw armed forces;
2. Permit interested refugees to return to their homes and compensate the rest;
4.Vacate all Jewish-only settlement/colonies;
5.Compensate all Palestinian victims.
"Faculty Senate in Wisconson passes divestment bill"
"Dearborn student government pushes 'U' to divest funds from Israel"
"The student government at the University's Dearborn campus last week unanimously passed a resolution calling for the University's Board of Regents to vote to divest from Israel."
Reported in the Michigan Daily, at:
Call to divest from Israeli Occupation, by Howard University's faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences
"Prominent call for divestment at Howard"
by: Will Youmans – The Arab American News
17th March 2007
Activists calling for ending financial support for Israel welcomed a victory at a university in Washington, DC. The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University voted overwhelmingly to call on the university's board of trustees to divest from Israel.
The faculty at this historically Black institution came down with a 25 to 2 vote in favor of divestment, beginning with the identification of university "funds that are being invested in 'offending' companies that are offering material support to Israeli Occupation."
The March 8th call was introduced by David Schwartzman, a biology professor of Jewish origin. He told "The Arab American News," there was not much opposition, except by the college's Dean, who refused to put divestment on the agenda. He plans on introducing a similar resolution to the faculty Senate this spring.
He sponsored the measure in the hope that "these resolutions start spreading around the country and generate action comparable to the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s."
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The bill names two companies-United Technologies and General Electric-as supplying Israel with the technology necessary to attack civilian populations in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The bill originally passed the senate March 17 by a 16-4 vote following about six hours of discussion. A two-thirds majority, or 14 votes, is needed in order to override the veto.
Senators have received more than 13,000 e-mails, roughly split between both sides of the controversy.
Prominent figures including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, activist Naomi Klein and leftist MIT professor Noam Chomsky have spoken in support of overriding ASUC President Will Smelko's March 24 veto of the bill. Local and national pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-an influential Washington, D.C. lobby organization-Berkeley Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League have each stated the bill is divisive and unfairly targets Israel.
Supporters of the bill say divesting from the two companies would make a powerful statement against Israeli actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which supporters have compared to apartheid-era South Africa.
In a recent letter to the UC Berkeley community, Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts opposing apartheid in South Africa-said he endorsed the bill and urged senators to uphold the original vote, which he compared to similar efforts at UC Berkeley to divest from South Africa in the 1980s.
He said in an e-mail Tuesday that he had a message for ASUC senators.
"I salute you for wanting to take a moral stand," he said in the e-mail. "(Your predecessors) changed the moral climate in the U.S. and the consequence was the Anti-Apartheid legislation, which helped to dismantle apartheid non-violently. Today is your turn. Will you look back on this day with pride or with shame?"
Wayne Firestone, national president of Hillel-a Jewish campus organization-released a statement last month condemning the bill. The statement stated that the bill is "one-sided, divisive and undermines the pursuit of peace" and ignores human rights violations of other countries.
"The ASUC bill will not contribute a whit to the advancement of peace in the Middle East and will only serve to divide the Berkeley community," Firestone said in the statement.
Pro-Israel activist organization J Street U, joined 18 other organizations-including Berkeley Hillel, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, the Jewish National Fund and StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel-in crafting an April 5 letter to UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer stating that they felt the bill was dishonest and misleading.
Among concerns listed in the letter was that the bill "unfairly targets" Israel while marginalizing Jewish students on campus who support Israel.
"Though it states that the 'ASUC resolution should not be considered taking sides in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict,' the exclusive focus on Israel suggests otherwise," the letter states.
Critics of the bill have said senators cannot make a proper judgement of an issue as complicated as the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Student Action Senator Parth Bhatt, who voted against the bill, said he felt the ASUC should not take a stance on such an issue because it marginalizes one community on campus.
"I don't think the ASUC should put any student in that position," Bhatt said. "The conflict is very complex and something I don't think our senators know enough about to vote on."
But CalSERVE Senator Ariel Boone said she supported the bill because she felt compelled to defend human rights.
"I went to Israel and had a really interesting time with Berkeley Hillel in January, and I have Holocaust survivors among my family," Boone said in an e-mail. "I have never felt so uniquely qualified to speak on an issue."
AIPAC has recently stated the need for a strategy to combat anti-Israel sentiments on U.S. university campuses.
"How are we going to beat back the anti-Israel divestment resolution at Berkeley?" said Jonathan Kessler, leadership development director for AIPAC, at a recent conference of the lobbying group. "We're going to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote. This is how AIPAC operates in our nation's capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation's campuses."
But according to spokesperson Josh Block, the group did not take a position in the recent ASUC election.
"We don't rate or endorse candidates," Block said in an e-mail. "Of course we would always, publicly and consistently encourage pro-Israel students to be active in civic and political life."
Read statements in opposition and in support of the divestment bill:
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Dear Student Leaders at the University of California – Berkeley
It was with great joy that I learned of your recent 16-4 vote in support of divesting your university’s money from companies that enable and profit from the injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and violation of Palestinian human rights. Principled stands like this, supported by a fast growing number of US civil society organizations and people of conscience, including prominent Jewish groups, are essential for a better world in the making, and it is always an inspiration when young people lead the way and speak truth to power.
I am writing to tell you that, despite what detractors may allege, you are doing the right thing. You are doing the moral thing. You are doing that which is incumbent on you as humans who believe that all people have dignity and rights, and that all those being denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings.
I have been to the Ocupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.
In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime.
Students played a leading role in that struggle, and I write this letter with a special indebtedness to your school, Berkeley, for its pioneering role in advocating equality in South Africa and promoting corporate ethical and social responsibility to end complicity in Apartheid. I visited your campus in the 1980’s and was touched to find students sitting out in the baking sunshine to demonstrate for the University’s disvestment in companies supporting the South African regime.
The same issue of equality is what motivates the divestment movement of today, which tries to end Israel’s 43 year long occupation and the unequal treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them. The abuses they face are real, and no person should be offended by principled, morally consistent, non-violent acts to oppose them. It is no more wrong to call out Israel in particular for its abuses than it was to call out the Apartheid regime in particular for its abuses.
To those who wrongly accuse you of unfairness or harm done to them by this call for divestment, I suggest, with humility, that the harm suffered from being confronted with opinions that challenge one’s own pales in comparison to the harm done by living a life under occupation and daily denial of basic rights and dignity. It is not with rancor that we criticize the Israeli government, but with hope, a hope that a better future can be made for both Israelis and Palestinians, a future in which both the violence of the occupier and the resulting violent resistance of the occupied come to an end, and where one people need not rule over another, engendering suffering, humiliation, and retaliation. True peace must be anchored in justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin or any other identity attribute. You, students, are helping to pave that path to a just peace.
I heartily endorse your divestment vote and encourage you to stand firm on the side of what is right,
God bless you richly,
Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town.