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PORTSIDE  September 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE September 2011, Week 1

Subject:

Divesting from Israel’s Occupation

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

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Date:

Tue, 6 Sep 2011 21:45:33 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (133 lines)

Divesting from Israel’s Occupation

By Ida Audeh
CommonDreams.org
September 6, 2011

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/06-5

Next week, student and local community activists will present
a petition to the University of Colorado Board of Regents,
urging it to remove from the university’s stock portfolio all
companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West
Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Launched
by CU-Divest and signed by more than 2,000 students and human
rights activists, the petition states that the university’s
$1.7 billion investments "may violate the University’s
commitment to human rights and social justice."

Similar divestment and boycott campaigns are underway in
dozens of campuses across the country, following the
successful efforts of Hampshire College students in 2009.
(The retirement plan giant TIAA-CREF is the focus of a
separate national divestment campaign.)

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call to the
international community to apply boycott, divestment and
sanctions against Israel until it upholds international law
and Palestinian rights. The appeal resonated with human
rights activists who have been frustrated by their
government’s failure to pressure Israel to stop its human
rights violations of Palestinians.

The US divestment campaign has been modeled very deliberately
on campaigns that targeted investment in South Africa
apartheid during the 1980s. The two countries, Israel and the
former South Africa, are remarkably similar in their
treatment of populations they define as undesirable
(Palestinians and black South Africans, respectively).

The similarity has been observed by South Africans who visit
the occupied Palestinian territories. Anglican Archbishop
Desmond Tutu, a 1984 Nobel Prize recipient, published an open
letter to the University of Berkeley student government in
2010: "I have been to the Occupied 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."

Archbishop Tutu called for the international community to
withdraw support from Israel until it ends its occupation.
Withdrawing financial support from companies that profit from
the occupation is one avenue available to all of us.

So which companies profit from the occupation? A Web site
(whoprofits.org) helps identify companies with Israeli
military and illegal settlement connections. Motorola has a
contract with the Israeli military to provide communications
technology, including voice and data services to military
commanders. (Israel’s indiscriminate shelling of the Gaza
Strip in 2008-2009 prompted UN officials to accuse Israel of
war crimes.)

Another collaborator in Israel’s crimes is Caterpillar, the
largest producer of earth-moving construction vehicles. The
Israeli military has used Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy
more than 12,000 Palestinian homes since 1967. This company
contributes to the homelessness of an occupied people and
should not be part of any university’s (or individual’s)
stock portfolio.

A successful divestment campaign at CU affirms the power of
communities to make investment decisions that are consistent
with their values. Most Americans do not approve of the
killing of civilians, yet Israel kills unarmed Palestinians
without consequence. Americans contribute generously to
assist famine and earthquake victims, but many of us seem
unaware of Israel’s siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip,
which one UN official described in 2008 as the intentional
reduction of a region to "abject destitution." We affirm the
sanctity of the home, yet a US client state has used US
equipment to make tens of thousands of Palestinians homeless.
We should not invest in the industries that are complicit in
Israel’s human rights violations.

Successive US administrations have provided unconditional
support for a highly militarized and aggressive Israel, and
this has fueled Israeli lawlessness and prolonged the
conflict. (According to the Web site If Americans Knew, in
2011 the US provides $8.2 million each day in military aid to
Israel. The administration and Congress are discussing ways
to cut entitlement programs that are relied on by millions of
Americans during these difficult economic times, yet aid to
Israel is shielded from cuts.)

Because US government support enables Israeli intransigence,
we are complicit in crimes committed with our tax dollars.
One way (by no means the only way) to redress that is to
identify companies that are complicit in Israel’s control of
the occupied Palestinian territories and to refrain from
boosting their profits.

Ida Audeh, an editor who lives in Boulder, is a Palestinian
who grew up in the occupied West Bank. The CU Divest petition
is available here:
https://sites.google.com/site/cudivest/home/petition

more Ida Audeh

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