We are writing this letter as students from various backgrounds who support divestment at UCLA. We want to make sure that our positions are articulated clearly and to explain why we support this issue. We’re not writing this letter to change your minds, though we’d love for that to happen; we are doing this because we hope that our clarity and openness will ease some of the tensions surrounding this issue.
First, why do we support divestment? We come from a plethora of backgrounds and political views and we support divestment for a variety of reasons. Some of us come from a position of solidarity which says “I see Palestinians experiencing occupation and wish to respect their request that I not financially contribute to their immiseration.” Some come from a position that says, “I don’t see myself as someone in solidarity with Palestine but, as a student, I feel responsible for where my money is going and that investing in corporations that profit from violence is simply unacceptable.” Finally, others come from a position of human rights and ethical investments, seeing relationships between this campaign and other efforts to make the university more accountable to student demands, basic human rights, and socially responsible practices. We want to make it clear that, while we are not perfect, we are not acting out of hatred or malice.
Second, what do we believe in? We have a range of political views on the future of Israel-Palestine, but we have tried to focus on the issue of corporations involved in human rights abuses. We are, therefore, not asking USAC to rule on a broader political question. USAC is responsible, however, for holding the Regents accountable when the Regents take actions that run contrary to student demands. It is hard to imagine any political solution which involves the corporations we are talking about to continue to enable, commit, or profit from human suffering in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. So we hope that people with a wide variety of political views on Israel-Palestine can support divestment.
Finally, what is our relationship to you? While we may disagree on a lot of political questions, we don’t disagree from a place of animosity or resentment. We respect your rights to hold your positions, even if we find support for continued investments in companies that hurt Palestinians to be deeply offensive. We hope and are aware that our continued activism is changing minds as we have seen many students evolve from opposition to support, or opposition to understanding. We hope that many of you can find a way to empathize with us and see that while you may disagree with divestment, there is a large, diverse community of people who, for all the right reasons, want it to pass. We have gone to great lengths to be open and accommodating and hope that in light of this you consider not opposing our divestment efforts.
UCLA Student Divestment Organizers