the blog pulse posted an important message from the students for justice in palestine the other day about the situation at hampshire college. hampshire college is seeking support in the form of writing about their historic work to divest from the terrorist state of israel:
Over the last 24 hours, there has been a huge response from students, parents, journalists, activists, public figures, political organizations, and individuals such as yourselves from across the country and the world congratulating us for our historic achievement this week. We are impressed and heartened by your passion in supporting us in this exciting campaign.
There have been many developments since SJP went public with the divestment, so it might be hard to keep track of the flurry of updates that have been published all over the internet. Please visit our website for the most recent statements (http://www.hsjp.org/). Also, Phillip Weiss’s blog (http://www.philipweiss.org/) is a particularly good resource, as he’s been following the events closely.
Your support so far has been so helpful, especially since we’ve been working non-stop since we broke the news. There’s so much more to be done, so we’ve come up with a few specific ways to demonstrate your solidarity with SJP and the movement. Here they are—
1) E-mail the administration and the President to voice your concern over their refusal to own up to the divestment decision. Express your disappointment that President Hexter has done nothing to condemn Alan Dershowitz’s threatening phone calls to SJP’s spokespeople (see update on website). Forward your letters of congratulations that you sent to us to them too. Make sure they know that divestment is not just a college—it’s a movement!
A script is attached to the end of this e-mail as a guide if you would like to use it.
Ralph Hexter (President): rhexter [at] hampshire.edu
President’s Office: 413-559-5521
2) Hampshire’s endowment is very small which means that most of the college’s year-to-year operating budget comes from tuition fees. For those who have donated, your contributions are greatly appreciated and important as the school is already in a troubled financial state. What we would like you to do for now is e-mail us every time you make a donation with the amount and your name so we can keep track of the funds and the support network.
3) Contribute to our video series, “Voices of Divestment.” We are trying to show the world that this isn’t about a small group of activists, but a wide range of people from all different walks of life. We would like you to make short 30-second to 1-minute clips and send them to us by uploading the video to youtube and emailing us the link.
Keep them informal, but stay passionate! Improvise. We want to hear why you support divestment in your own words.
Check out existing videos here: http://www.hsjp.org/voices-of-divestment/
Or alternatively: http://voicesofdivestment.wordpress.com/
4) Build momentum! This isn’t just about us; we’ve been getting a lot of e-mails about help & advice for starting similar BDS campaigns at other schools, and this is one of the most important ways you can help. If the BDS movement spreads rapidly, it will become clear to the public & the media that this is not just a local administrative dispute, but that we have finally reached a critical threshold in the United States.
Many groups and individuals have contacted us asking about going on speaking tours and giving trainings for campus divestment movements. We are very excited about the prospects of helping to spread divestment to many campuses and are investigating the logistics of how to make this happen. For now if you are interested in hosting us for a speaking tour in some capacity, please email us at HampshireSJP [at] gmail.com with the subject “SPEAKING”.
the first issue they are facing are attacks from the usual suspect–alan dershowitz, which can be read if you follow the link below–but also the appearance that hampshire college is seeming to stray from its initial argument about why they divested:
Hampshire officials acknowledge they initiated a review of the specific State Street fund in question in response to a petition from Students for Justice in Palestine. However, Hampshire maintains that it transferred assets to another fund after finding much broader violations of its policy on socially responsible investing, including unfair labor policies, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing and unsafe workplace settings. In all, Hampshire says it found more than 200 companies in the fund that fell short of its standards. “[T]he decision expressly did not pertain to a political movement or single out businesses active in a specific region or country,” the college’s statement says.
As an analogy, Ralph Hexter, Hampshire’s president, said, “There might be a court case that the higher court sustains the ruling but the principles are entirely different. Not that we thought that way. This is not a policy decision; I can’t say that enough. The investment committee expressly rejected the idea that we were acting in any way [in regards to] a certain country or region or political position, but rather because it came to our attention — it happened to be through this [Students for Justice in Palestine] petition — that this fund contained many, many companies that were problematic, in a whole host of regions.”
Hexter acknowledged the court analogy was likely imperfect, and one imperfection is that when a higher court upholds a lower court’s ruling, but for different reasons, judges usually go out of their way to make the distinctions clear. That’s not quite what happened at Hampshire, at least initially. In the group’s press release, Students for Justice in Palestine quote Hexter as saying, during the February 7 board of trustees meeting when this was decided, “that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue to the attention of the committee.” Hexter said the quote was accurate.
“What I referred to was their good work at doing undergraduate-level research and bringing it to the appropriate subcommittee of the board. It didn’t rely on their work, but it’s the kind of praise that I think you give to students for using the processes of the college,” Hexter said. While he expressed disappointment in the students disseminating “such a partial and biased version” of what happened, he also pointed out, “Remember, they are students.”
“We reject in our actions any singling out of a country, we thought that’s entirely inappropriate and it never occurred to us that this would be taken as divestment from Israel because that wasn’t the question before us,” said Hexter. “We’re in an awkward position that people are claiming falsely what this is and all I can do is deny it…. I can tell you personally as president that I am definitely opposed to divestment from Israel.”
in response to these above statements made by hexter, students for justice in palestine at hampshire college issued the following statement, which reads in part:
On May 8, 2008 SJP presented a proposal to the Committee at Hampshire on Investment Responsibility (CHOIR), a subcommittee of the Board of Trustees’ investment committee. The proposal was to divest from six companies due to their activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. On May 16, 2008 SJP made the same presentation to the full Board of Trustees, urging them to divest from the six corporations. On August 26, 2008 CHOIR voted “to recommend to the investment committee that Hampshire College divest of the following six companies: Caterpillar, Terex, Motorola, ITT, General Electric, United Technologies based on full consideration of the presentation by SJP.” This is a direct quotation from the CHOIR meeting minutes.
After this recommendation, the Investment Committee made the decision to divest from the mutual fund that held these companies. On Feb 7, 2009, the Investment Committee informed the Board of Trustees of its decision to divest. The administration denies that the decision was made in response to any concerns about any particular “region” or “political movement;” however SJP was explicitly asked by the administration what companies to avoid in the future in terms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This fact illustrates that the Israeli occupation and SJP’s work were undoubtedly the primary reasons for the decision to divest.
Furthermore, the violations of the other 200 companies cited by the “statement of clarification” were only researched days before the investment committee’s decision to divest from the mutual fund. For eight and a half months the only specific companies in the State Street fund that were discussed were the six companies SJP targeted. These facts prove that the decision was made on the grounds of the six companies’ involvement in the occupation of Palestine. We can only assume the reason the Board and administration chose to depoliticize this decision is because of the volatile nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
At the time of SJP’s original proposal to the Board, the College’s policy on socially responsible investment had not been revised since 1994 and the Board was considering dissolving the committee on investment responsibility. It is clear that if SJP had not introduced its divestment proposal, the college would still be invested in the State Street mutual fund.
In sum, Hampshire College divested from the mutual fund for many reasons, yet the Palestine-Israel conflict was the most prominent reason behind divestment; the decision to divest was not outside of the context of SJP’s efforts. It does not matter if the Hampshire administration issues a public statement condemning the occupation; the Hampshire community understands how and why we came to divest.
Divestment from Apartheid South Africa did not prove politically popular in 1977 when Hampshire became the first college in the U.S. to take a stand. It is to be expected that the first of any movement faces great pressure and criticism. SJP is disappointed that the college is choosing to shy away from the political implications of its action rather than embrace this moment. Regardless, a week ago Hampshire College was invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today, the college is no longer complicit in the funding of this injustice. This is an irrefutable fact and a historical victory that calls for both celebration and support.
certainly there is overlap. there is a problem with investing in general. with corporations in general. they all have blood on their hands from different places, usually multiple places. the adalah campaign against lev leviev diamonds, as i have written about before, is one of many examples. this is why they make explicit these connections between blood diamonds in africa and the money from these diamonds financing israeli terrorist colonies in the west bank. you can see this in their chants in their recent protest. al jazeera’s josh rushing did an awesome job of showing the new momentum of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (bds) campaign in the united states:
you can also see bill fletcher, one of our advisory board members for the us campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of israel, speaking eloquently about this growing movement in various other contexts, including the labor movement. you will also see rushing reporting about the recent growth of the cultural boycott targeting an israeli dance company currently touring north america:
Palestine solidarity activists issued a call late last year for protest against the Tel-Aviv based Batsheva Dance Company following its announcement that it would tour the US and Canada between January and March of 2009.
The call for protest was launched in accordance with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, which, in turn is modeled on the long campaign against South African Apartheid, the report said.
The Chicago chapter of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) began to organize resistance to a local Batsheva performance just as Israel ended Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. To promote the protest, grassroots communications outfit HammerHard MediaWorks came up with a slogan and graphic that tied the Batsheva to the suffering of Gaza’s residents.
According to the Chicago Progressive Examiner, people excited about the Batsheva performance for its artistic merits arrived at the Auditorium Theater on Sunday, and had to walk past a crowd of about 75 people, many of whom were wearing bandages smeared with fake blood to represent Palestinian casualties.
ISM’s Kevin Clark believes that his organization’s goal of convincing Batsheva patrons that supporting an Israeli entity made them complicit with the actions of the Israeli government was accomplished.
“We were chanting things like ‘this is no time for dancing,’ ‘you’re dancing on Gazans’ graves,'” he said, “and I could see people listening to us as they were standing in line in the theater lobby, and I saw a few – I’d say four or five – walk away without buying tickets.”
He added that others who didn’t leave were nevertheless affected. “I saw some people in tears. Obviously this was a really powerful militant action.”
Clark said the second major goal of the action was also accomplished. “We wanted to send the message to the Zionist community that there’s no safe haven. It doesn’t matter if it’s an artistic event, or athletic, or academic – you will have to deal with us and our call for justice,” he told the Chicago Progressive Examiner.
Batsheva has several more North American performances scheduled, and according to the report, similar protests are planned in Pittsburgh, Houston, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Vancouver, Canada
for those wishing to organize a protest if this dance troupe comes to your city, check out nigel parry’s website where he has information, flyers, and materials you may download.
while many of us are working hard to support the boycott campaign, sari nusseibeh, president of al quds university, works hard to undermine those efforts. ma’an news reported–and i quoted it here a week or two ago–that al quds university (that bastion of normalization) would sever collaboration with israeli terrorist institutions. now nusseibeh is bragging not only about his normalization activities, but also about his collaboration with the most zionist university in the u.s., brandeis:
Mr. Nusseibeh, who has run Al Quds for 14 years, has created academic exchange programs with Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., as well as with George Washington University in Washington and universities in Israel, Sweden and Canada. The Bard program will offer the first joint degree.
“The radius of movement of most of our students does not exceed 40 miles,” Mr. Nusseibeh said as he sat in his East Jerusalem office one recent morning. “We need to help them see the world through different eyes.
“We do a lot of projects with Israel,” he continued. “I get criticism for it because many Palestinians want to boycott Israeli educational institutions. But the West Bank economy is 70 to 90 percent dependent on Israel. At least we should profit from their education. It is the one thing in my view we absolutely should not boycott.”
yes, it is difficult to unravel the ways in which the west bank economy is infested with israeli products. but this is the reason to boycott, not to submit. one of my friends told me the other day–a young friend who is a student at my university–that in the 1980s and 90s, before satellite dishes were widely available and affordable, all people had access to was israeli television and if they were lucky the jordanian station. she said growing up with almost entirely israeli cartoons and commercials left an indelible imprint in her mind about the superiority of all things israeli. she thinks this is why palestinians think israeli products are superior. this is the psychological warfare that they fight. in some ways i think it is worse than the military warfare they unleash on palestinians. and so we have still not succeeded in banning israeli products from an najah university, though we are continuing to work on this. meanwhile the students at edinburgh university have made some headway with boycott and other items in their occupation of their university:
• A complete end to Eden Springs bottled water on campus by the start of the next academic year (2009/10).
• An opportunity to bring our case regarding the university’s unethical investments directly to the University Court.
• Scholarships for 5 Palestinian students in Gaza to study at Edinburgh University, with consideration for fee waivers, reduced accommodation fees, travel allowances and visa support.
• A collaboration between the university management, student body and an NGO to collect various materials for shipping to Gaza and to fundraise for the implementation of this.
• A lecture and debate series, involving university staff and guest speakers, on various subjects relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict. There has already been interest in this from prominent scholars Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky.
and this is why the economic boycott is emerging in australia now:
Palestine solidarity activists in Sydney have launched a campaign targeting Max Brenner Chocolates, a 100% Israeli-owned company belonging to the Strauss Group, as part of the growing international boycott Israel movement.
The Strauss Group is the second-largest Israeli food and beverage company.
On the “corporate responsibility” section of its website, the Strauss Group emphasises the support it gives to the Israeli killing machine. Highlighting that it wants to “sweeten their special moment” the Strauss Group touts that, for more than 30 years, it has supported the Golani reconnaissance platoon, renowned for its murderous assaults on Palestinian civilians.
During Israel’s recent massacre in Gaza, a Ha’aretz article reported that the Golani platoon operated “in the sector in which the [Israel Defence Force] has seen the toughest battles with Hamas, the eastern part of Gaza City”.
According to the website of Adalah-NY, the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East, Golani has also been involved in previous military operations in Gaza, in the massacres in the Jenin and Tul Karm refugee camps and the siege on Yasser Arafat’s Muqata compound in Ramallah.
It was also directly involved in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon.
Moreover, Adalah-NY reports that in November 2008, in a widely disseminated video, “members of the Golani Brigade filmed themselves forcing a captive, blindfolded Palestinian to sing humiliating songs, some of a sexual nature, and some about the Golani Brigade”.
and now it looks like we might have a sports boycott underway:
Israel’s leading female tennis player, Shahar Peer, was refused a visa for entry into the United Arab Emirates yesterday, as politics threatened the future of one of the world’s richest tennis tournaments.
The UAE does not have diplomatic relations with Israel and tournament organisers believe the decision to refuse entry to Peer was a reaction to the recent conflict in Gaza.
Last year, Peer became the first Israeli tennis player to take part in a tournament in an Arab country at an event in Doha, Qatar. “I really got a warm welcome from the tournament,” she said at the time. “When you go on the court you don’t think about politics. You just want to play your tennis.”
we need to see more of this sort of action, however, uae, if they really want to help, can also close down its lev leviev diamond store. and it would be nice to get qatar on board while we’re at it.
for those who need reminding on why bds is so necessary here is a rundown of what israeli terrorists did today in palestine:
At least 30 Palestinian civilians were kidnapped by Israeli troops during morning invasions, targeting towns and villages near the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday, Palestinian sources reported.
Thirteen of those kidnapped were taken from al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah city. Witnesses reported that Israeli troops invaded the camp, searched homes and took 13 men away.
Meanwhile, nine civilians, among them two brothers, were kidnapped during similar home invasions the Israeli military carried out in al-Jalazon refugee camp, also located in Ramallah city. Local sources said there are 130 civilians from al-Jalazon refugee camp that are still locked up in Israeli detention.
Seven civilians were kidnapped during pre-dawn house to house searches the Israeli military carried out in the village of Abu Shikhadem, to the north of Ramallah city, local sources reported.
Another man was also kidnapped during Israeli invasions, targeting the town of Silwad, north east of Ramallah city.
Palestinian sources said that Israeli troops invaded the city of Jenin and searched a number of homes before taking two men to unknown locations.
Meanwhile in Nablus, Israeli troops searched two homes during a dawn invasion, kidnapped two young men and took them to a nearby military camp, local sources reported.
and on the mountain behind deheishe refugee camp in beit lahem, on the occupied land of the village of khader, israeli terrorists stole morel and today:
Mayor Oded Revivi said on Monday that the Israeli military designated 425 acres near Efrat, a settlement of about 1,600 families south of Jerusalem, as so-called
state land two weeks ago.
Revivi said Efrat plans to build 2,500 homes on that land, but government approval would still be needed before construction begins, a process that could take years.
Eventually, Efrat is to grow to a city of 30,000 people, he said.
The settlement is situated in one of three settlement blocs Israel expects to hold on to in any final peace deal.
Revivi said nine appeals, eight of which were rejected and one was upheld, had been filed by Palestinian landowners.
and in gaza palestinians are still suffering from the wounds of white phosphorous as hoda abdel hamid reports on al jazeera:
but palestinians are moving forward with their plans to pursue war crimes in an international court as well, though there are a number of obstacles they still have to confront:
THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The Palestinian foreign minister urged the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) prosecutor on Friday to start an investigation into whether Israel committed war crimes during its offensive in Gaza.
Riyad al-Maliki told reporters after meeting Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo that he was confident the court would act after evaluating the Palestinian Authority’s petition.
“Today we have come to deliver to the prosecutor a set of documents that show that Palestine as a state has the validity to represent its case to the court,” Maliki said.
“We’ve come to ask for justice and to ask for an investigation into the crimes committed by the Israelis and Israeli army in Gaza recently,” he said. “We expect the prosecution to take actions.”
The Israeli army waged a three-week war in Gaza against Hamas militants at the turn of the year, but Israeli officials deny accusations of war crimes arising from the fighting.
Last week Moreno-Ocampo’s office said it had started a “preliminary analysis” to establish whether Israel committed war crimes, after receiving 210 communications from individuals and non-governmental organizations regarding events in Gaza.
The prosecutor has said that the preliminary analysis does not necessarily mean an investigation will be opened.
The ICC can investigate alleged war crimes in the territory of a state party, if the U.N. Security Council — where the United States has veto power — refers a situation to the court or if a non-state party voluntarily accepts the jurisdiction of the court.
Israel and the United States are not among the 108 countries that have signed the Rome Statute creating the court, but that would not prevent the ICC from launching an investigation.
The Palestinian Authority has recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC, in a move designed to allow investigations of alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories.