On October 22nd, the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council voted to defeat a resolution that threatened the ability for students to pursue divestment from companies tied to the Israeli occupation. The resolution, entitled “A Resolution In Support of Positive Steps Towards an Israeli-Palestinian Peace" framed divestment as a source of tension on campus, while also calling for "positive investment" in a basket of companies loosely affiliated with both Israelis and Palestinians. . During the effort to defeat this bill, we received solidarity statements from around the world, explaining the futility of the bill's "positive investment" clauses and the importance of divestment as a non-violent response to the occupation. For more, please see our press release. Here is a statement sent by Sam Bahour that addresses "positive investment."
By Lila Suboh and Dana Saifan
“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state – (it was) part of the Ottoman Empire. I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and who were historically part of the Arab community,” stated Newt Gingrich, a U.S. Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
That’s right, Palestinians are “invented” people. The 4.3 million people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the 5 million Palestinian refugees are “invented” people.
Maybe it is because Palestinians are “invented” that they don’t deserve basic human rights, such as access to water, roads, electricity, food and medical supplies? Or maybe they don’t deserve a homeland of their own because they are “invented” people? Or maybe, just maybe, it is because Palestinians are “invented” that they are subjugated to live under Israel’s occupation, which has been deemed illegal under international law?
The truth is, we are all “invented” people, living in “invented” nations that were birthed at the expense of indigenous peoples, disregarding those human beings’ real identities, histories and experiences prior to the invention of nations.
Despite the superficial invention of labels for strips of land spread across vast oceans, the people on these lands are very real. UCLA students and Los Angeles residents are very real. The Palestinian people are very real.
Likewise, the struggles of students on campus and Palestinians are real and concern us all. Last week, UCLA students rallied against a proposed 20 percent hike to University of California Student Health Insurance Plan fees and caps on student benefits.
In a more severe struggle for access to health care, the Palestinian people face worsening health conditions as the Israeli military’s checkpoints impede pregnant women, the sick, and the elderly from reaching hospitals in the West Bank.
The Israeli blockade prohibits vital medical supplies, such as needles and medicine, from reaching Palestinians in Gaza whose lives depend on them.
While the Palestinian struggle for basic health needs, as a matter of life or death, is more critical and overt than UC struggles to maintain health care, the understanding of access to health care as a basic human right is universal.
As UCLA students, we face budget cuts and fight for access to higher education. Palestinian students persist through roadblocks (both physical and financial) each day to attain their education, despite the chilling reality that only $192 is spent on each non-Jewish Palestinian child per year by the Israeli government, compared to $1,100 on each Jewish Israeli child, according to the Washington Report.
And just as our minority communities around Los Angeles are racially targeted and incarcerated, Palestinians are deemed “security threats” because of their race.
According to Palestinian human rights organization Addameer, 700 Palestinian children under the age of 18 are prosecuted each year through Israeli military courts and more than 4,700 Palestinians are in prison as of Jan. 1, 2013.
We are all “uninvented” human beings that are equally deserving of our human rights, from UCLA students to Palestinians.
This week, Students for Justice in Palestine is hosting its annual Palestine Awareness Week, a program dedicated to educating the UCLA community about Palestine and its people who resist Israel’s oppression within the Palestinian territories, within Israel and around the world. This is an opportunity for UCLA students and faculty to learn why this conflict is not as complicated and controversial as many have portrayed it to be.
As human beings, Palestinians deserve equal rights – it’s as simple as that. With the solidarity of UCLA students and faculty, these rights are possible to attain, just as it was possible for students and faculty to help deconstruct South African apartheid in the 1980s.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu emphasized, by standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people, “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.”
Click here to read this in the Daily Bruin
By Rahim Kurwa
The University of California recently commissioned a report on the campus climate that accuses students and faculty who are critical of Israel of contributing to a negative environment for Jewish students. Under the false assumption that criticism of Israeli state policies constitutes hate speech against Jewish students, the report recommends wide forms of censorship to limit criticism of Israel. These include banning speakers from campus to enforcing “balance” at political events to prohibiting “hate speech” that is allegedly anti-Semitic under a controversial definition of that word.
Some Jewish students excluded from the report have blasted the assumption that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. The report has been widely criticized in themedia and by Palestinian rights advocates, Jewish groups, and free speech supporters. But relatively little attention has been paid to the role of the UC Administration in contributing to a climate of fear, censorship, and intimidation for those speaking out against human rights violations in Israel/Palestine.
The infographic below documents some of the worst examples of the administration intimidating and censoring students and faculty who speak in support of Palestinian rights during the past three years. These incidents give much needed context to the recently released report, which calls for restrictions on speech so severe that even its authors acknowledge may “result in legal challenges.”
(Click on the image below to view it larger)
Published on Mondoweiss:
By Suleiman Hodali
The recent criminal convictions of the UC Irvine and Riverside students most popularly known as the Irvine 11 have roused much concern over the historical role of the university as a space for free speech in American society.
Following the Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip in the beginning of 2009, a civil protest was put together by the Irvine 11 during a staged speech by Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, at UCI. Despite immediate discipline imposed against the students by the university, in which an entire student group’s activities were suspended for a full year, the Orange County District Attorney’s office filed misdemeanor charges against the eleven students for disrupting a meeting and conspiring to disrupt a meeting - almost a year to the day following the protest.
To understand the symbolic agents involved in the tableau of this protest, a focus must be made on the object of protest at hand: a government representative of a country that had just committed what the UN has sanctioned as heinous war crimes – all part of a legacy of war crimes that American tax dollars and tractable politicians have supported unconditionally for decades. In this sense, the Irvine 11 protest is a conventional exemplar of American citizens speaking out, through symbolic free speech, against American complicity in Israel's onslaughts on the most densely populated place on earth. Some of the defendants had lost child-aged relatives in the 22-day long, arbitrary assault on schools, hospitals, factories, and places of religious worship. Over 1400 Palestinians were murdered - many of them children. In a current environment of American public sentiment overwhelmingly hostile to Arab or Muslim visibility, the university has become the last forum for an oft-marginalized experience and silenced voice to be accessed and heard.
Countless events and speakers at this university, with content sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians at the hand of Israel, have been subject to disruptions and derision with no consequences imposed against violators by the university or otherwise. Not only is the criminalization of the Irvine 11 another attempt to silence and intimidate any efforts made to expose Palestinian subjugation to Israeli military occupation, violence, and endless human rights violations, but it is also a clear move by intrusive political forces to employ scare tactics against anyone who wishes to utilize one of the university's traditional functions as a platform for exercising free speech.
It is important that students from all political, cultural, and social affiliations express a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the Irvine 11 - not only for trying to make heard those who would otherwise remain voiceless, but for their courage to preserve the academy as a site for public discourse.
At UCLA, on this National Day of Solidarity with the Eleven, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Student Association, Afrikan Student Union, Vietnamese Student Union, MEChA, Pacific Islander Student Association, Asian Pacific Coalition, and Samahang Pilipino proudly stand in solidarity with the Irvine 11 and refuse to see student activism silenced on our campus.