For Immediate Release: Students for Justice in Palestine Hails Divestment Victory, Thanks all Supporters
November 19, 2014
Divestment organizers at UCLA, representing a wide coalition of students from all backgrounds and sectors of campus, celebrated a milestone victory for social justice with the passage of "A Resolution to Divest from Companies Engaged in Violence against Palestinians." The resolution, sponsored by Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, Conrad Contreras, and Manjot Singh, passed by an 8-2-2 margin. It was sponsored by 15 student organizations and endorsed by an additional 17, making for 32 total student groups in support of divestment. UCLA's vote marks the 6th of 9 undergraduate University of California campuses to have taken a majority vote in support of divestment from corporations that violate Palestinian human rights.
Council members from a variety of political affiliations voted in favor of the resolution, including independents, progressives, and a member of the campus' moderate party. Before the vote, council members expressed their admiration and respect for the coalition building, education, and outreach by SJP-UCLA during our campaign. Also notable was the positive tone of the hearing and discussion, wherein most council members affirmed their support for one another regardless of their votes.
The resolution could not have been successful without the support of the students from many communities who came out to speak in its favor and who stayed at the hearing until it passed. Alaa Abuadas, the programming director for SJP-UCLA said, "as a Palestinian, I want to thank every single person who helped us pass this bill, for getting us one step closer to a free Palestine."
This resolution's victory does not mark the end of SJP's efforts. SJP sees the passage of divestment as a chance to help other communities use this tool as an avenue to attain more political agency. On that note, the organization sees this vote as laying a principled foundation from which students from myriad backgrounds can continue to educate and organize in support of not just Palestinian rights but all causes of social justice.
The Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine, and the Irvine Divest community, proudly support the Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, and the fellow endorsers of the UCLA Divest Campaign.
November 16, 2014: The Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine, and the Irvine Divest community, proudly support the Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, and the fellow endorsers of the UCLA Divest Campaign. We strongly urge USAC members to be cognizant and just when voting upon this resolution, as it has the potential to reduce our investment in companies that are profiting off of the slaughter of innocent civilians in occupied Palestine.
When UCI students and organizers were given the opportunity to pass the Divestment resolution through ASUCI’s Legislative Council, we were given the chance to recognize our privilege. The privilege to not have our homes demolished illegally by Caterpillar bulldozers. The privilege to not be harassed by HP security systems every time we go to class. The privilege to not have our families massacred by Raytheon missiles. These are all companies our university invests in, and we knew that as UC students, we could not be involved in these human rights violations.
Respected USAC members: You will be voting on something very concise and pertinent. You will not be voting upon the future of the region, nor will you be taking any sides. You will simply be voting to divest from specific companies that are complacently participating in human rights violations. You will be voting to hold the UC system morally responsible for its financial investments, and choosing to be on the right side of history. Do not be fooled by those who try to over-complicate the situation. It is simple: we, as a university community, should not be investing in companies that are participating in human rights violations that have been legally recognized by the United Nations and International Law. We have received innumerable statements of support from all over the world; hundreds of letters from leaders, organizations, and student councils from other countries have all commended our bravery in this fight for justice. The movement to end the Palestinian occupation is strong, and we urge you to stand for justice and human dignity.
We recognize that no issue will ever be agreed upon by every individual. Social movements of resistance in the past were never unanimously agreed upon. We have a tendency to romanticize the past and forget that these issues were “controversial,” and that there were many people who were both for and against it. It was the strong resistance of dedicated individuals and students such as ourselves, that brought forth social justice. The passing of our divestment resolution did not cause our campus to deteriorate in any way. Instead, it has promoted an increasingly positive dialogue that is free of intimidation. Do not let fear of the aftermath with the passing of this resolution be a major concern. UC Irvine has passed it and we did not break into chaos. We are still as strong as ever in our position to divest from companies that are profiting from the occupation in Palestine.
We commend the community members and organizers involved in the UCLA Divest campaign for their unfaltering bravery and sincere dedication. These students and organizers recognize their entanglement in this bloody occupation, and chose not to be complacent with that oppression. Their valiant efforts in the face of violent opposition and hegemonic hindrances shows their compassion to stand for justice for issues that expand beyond the UCLA campus.
The movement towards ending the occupation in Palestine is ongoing and strong, and even if this resolution does not pass through you, it will pass one day. You either get to choose to be the council member that took the brave stance on the right side of history, or be forgotten. UC Irvine made history by becoming the first campus in California to call for divestment from companies profiting from human rights violations. Will you join us?
Respected USAC members, we urge you to vote in favor of this divestment resolution. We offer our utmost support, solidarity, and love to the organizers of UCLA Divest.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Irvine
The Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project is proudly co-sponsoring the Resolution that calls on the University of California to divest and remove its shares from companies that are committing human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories against the indigenous Palestinian communities. We are an organization that aims to end the exploitation of youth of color by ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline which is ultimately incapacitates historically marginalized communities of color. Last year, we co-sponsored the resolution that called on the University of California to divest from companies that profit off of the Prison Industrial Complex. The resolution passed 10-0-2, because the rationale was simple; as a university we did not want to have any involvement in corporations that rely on prison and slave labor, and we did not want to facilitate mass incarceration or prison privatization. Through this resolution, our student government chose to take an open stance with the people (all the communities that are targeted by the Prison Industrial Complex) and against the corporations that are involved in immoral, and unethical business practices that focus on profit generation and not humanity. As an organization, IYTP is ethnically and morally consistent, and we ask USAC to be the same and not exceptionalize Palestinian students and communities.
This resolution is calling for the University of California to not be complicit in human rights violations committed by Cemex, CRH, HP, GE, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamic, Northrop Grumman, and United Technologies. These companies are complicit in war crimes and uphold an apartheid against the Palestinian people. This summer we saw a lot of these companies directly involved in war and bloodshed through Operation Protective Edge that resulted in the deaths of close to 2500 Palestinian civilians. Boeing provided the Apache helicopters and fighter jets that carried out indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas like UN shelters, schools, public gathering locations, houses, hospitals, disabled homes, and many more. The United Nations called the massacres, crimes against humanity and proceeded to condemn the entire operation. General Dynamics provides the ammunition and artillery to the Israeli Defense Forces that results in the death of civilians, many of them children. Northrop Grumman provides the IDF with precision missiles that targeted crowded, civilian areas in Gaza. The list of atrocious war crimes committed by these companies can go on. We need to ask ourselves, how can an educational institution like the University of California that we uphold to high standards of ethics and morality possibly invest in companies that profit from death and bloodshed? How can we as students have our tuition going to the systematic extermination of a people? How can we as taxpayers accept funding this war?
Beyond the war in Gaza, we recognize that Palestinians face discrimination and dehumanization on a daily basis. Palestinian minority communities living within Israel are second-class citizens, not granted basic human rights. Palestinians living within the occupied territories of Gaza and West Bank live under a siege where their movements, their education, their access to necessities like food, water, and medicine is at the mercy of the Israeli Defense Forces. We also recognize that there is an increasing effort by Israel to expand their Jewish-Only settlements which has resulted in the expulsion of thousands of Palestinian families (now refugees). Caterpillar provides the bulldozers that inhumanely demolish Palestinian homes, gardens, and olive trees to make way for Jewish settlements. Cemex illegally deprives the West Bank of their natural resources in order to supply the apartheid wall that isolates the West Bank territory. CRH also provides cement and materials to aid the construction of the apartheid wall in the West Bank. It is important to recognize that the wall has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice as it restricts Palestinian movements, and prevents access to land and necessary resources. HP provides technology for the checkpoints that racially profile Palestinians to control their movements. This is an issue we can find parallels with in the United States because youth of color are subject to excessive racial profiling and police brutality. HP profits from global mass incarceration. It is vital to recognize that these companies are committing human rights violations against many communities and not solely the indigenous Palestinian peoples.
IYTP recognizes that as a university we have ALREADY taken a very polarized stance against Palestinian communities. We have chosen to be involved and fund the oppression of Palestinian people through acts of violence, war and discrimination. We believe that divesting from these companies will ensure neutrality in the situation and ensure that we are ethically responsible through our investments. We know that companies focused on profits can dehumanize marginalized communities, as the youth we seek to fight for are often victims of this system of oppression. The youth we fight for are caught in a vicious cycle of institutional racism that prioritizes profits and corporations over people and communities. The systematic oppression of the Palestinian people is happening through vicious acts of war, through institutional apartheid practiced by the Israeli government, through a deprivation of basic human rights, through a dehumanization by the Israeli Defense Forces; and we must recognize that indigenous Palestinian communities are being subject to this every day since the inception of the state of Israel. A country created on the basis of ethnic expulsion (The Nakba) and on institutional racism (a state only for Jews despite indigenous Palestinians already living there) cannot preach equality unless those acts of racism end. These companies facilitate these acts of racism.
We want the University of California to prioritize people. We want the UC to prioritize communities. We want the UC to not force Palestinian Bruins to fund the oppression of their families back home. We want the UC to be morally consistent because we have taken stances against unethical corporations before. We want the UC to realize that we have done this before when we divested to end the apartheid in South Africa. We want the UC to realize that the apartheid ended as a result of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions. We want the UC to recognize that peace and respect is possible on this campus only after we have taken a neutral stance. We want the UC to be neutral on the issue of Israel-Palestine, and this is how. We, as students, do not want to fund violence. We, as IYTP, cannot fight the oppression of youth of color and still be complicit in the issue of Palestinian human rights. We want the UC to realize that we can be on the right side of history again. We want the UC to DIVEST.
In Solidarity with all oppressed peoples,
Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project,
Proud Co-Sponsor of the Fall 2014 Divestment Resolution.