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Tel Aviv University
Anat Biletzki and Anat Matar from Tel Aviv University support Hampshire College divestment from Israel

 

 

Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli Occupation!

 

Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

 

This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured Hampshire College's Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and alumni have signed SJP's "institutional statement" calling for the divestment.

 

The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb 2009 by the Board. By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel.

 

About SJP

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a Hampshire College student group, was created in the fall

semester of 2006. Before the group existed in its current form, Hampshire students have engaged

in solidarity activism with the Palestinian people. The student group, with faculty, alumni, and

international support, has hosted extensive educational events on campus such as: a “Palestine

101” faculty panel, film screenings and lectures with prominent activists and intellectuals, two

“mock walls” simulating the experience of life in the West Bank, interactive forums and open

dialogues. While actively educating the Hampshire community about Israel’s illegal occupation

of Palestine, the group has carried out an intensive two-year divestment campaign. The goal has

been for Hampshire to divest from companies that contribute to and support Israel’s military

occupation. SJP succeeded in securing over 800 signatures of support for divestment from the

Hampshire community.

Affirmative Statement

Traditionally, Hampshire College has advocated for the oppressed, taking unpopular stands when

others have preferred to turn away. In 1976 Hampshire College was the first college in the US to

divest from Apartheid South Africa. In 2001 Hampshire was the first college to object to the war

in Afghanistan.

In this spirit and in light of the fact that the Israeli occupation is the longest ongoing occupation

since World War II, we state our objection to the oppression of the Palestinian people. The

Hampshire community hereby declares its commitment to work towards the end of this

occupation. Furthermore we call upon Israel to end its policies of discrimination and to respect

international law and Palestinian rights, including the right to self-determination. We support the

Palestinian right to resist the occupation in accordance with international law. Our commitment

includes the following policies ratified by Hampshire College:

• As an institution Hampshire College will not support, invest, or finance any individual, group or

institution that directly profits from the occupation of Palestine. We call on other colleges and

universities to enact similar policies.

• Hampshire College calls on the United States Government to stop financing Israel’s occupation

of Palestine.

In addition to economic measures, Hampshire College as an institution and a community hereby

expresses its commitment to support the autonomy and self-determination of the Palestinian

people, including but not limited to the following:

• We support dialogue on our campus about the conflict as long as it is sincere and serious about

its intentions to end the oppression of the Palestinian people.

• Due to our mandate as an institution of higher education, we are committed to support the

Palestinian right to education, through exchange programs and academic support

• In solidarity with the Palestinian people, our educational program will provide a stage for

unheard Palestinian voices.

Hampshire College, in accordance with its moral imperatives, will persist in this course of action

until the end of the occupation as defined by UN resolutions.

Divestment Addendum

Due to numerous questions over the nature of divestment in the first section of the affirmative

statement, SJP has added the following addendum to clarify what is meant by divestment.

Investments should not be made in any company that provides products or services, including

financial services, to Israeli governmental or military bodies that are used to facilitate or

undertake violent acts against civilians or violations of international law, or to Israeli or

Palestinian organizations or groups that are used to facilitate or undertake violent acts against

civilians or violations of international law.

For the purposes of this investment screen this would include companies that:

1. Provide products or services that contribute to the maintenance of the Israeli military

occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;

2. Provide products or services that contribute to the maintenance and expansion of Israeli

settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories;

3. Establish facilities or operations in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories;

4. Provide products or services that contribute to the maintenance and construction of the

Separation Wall;

5. Provide products or services that contribute to violent acts that target either Israeli or

Palestinian civilians

Why We Divested:

Companies Recommended For Divestment from New England

Conference of the United Methodist Church (Updated Nov. 27, 2007)1

CATERPILLAR (NYSE:CAT) supplies bulldozers to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

The IDF uses these to destroy Palestinian homes, orchards and olive groves in the Occupied

Territories. They are also used to clear Palestinian land for illegal Israeli settlements, segregated

roads and the “Separation Barrier.” Despite years of corporate engagement by investors,

Caterpillar is expanding its role in the occupation, recently announcing a joint venture with

InRobTech to develop unmanned remote-controlled bulldozers for Israel.

ITT CORPORATION (NYSE:ITT) provides the Israeli Defense Forces with

intensifier tubes for night vision goggles and has previously provided battlefield communication

radios. Night vision goggles are used by pilots, co-pilots and crews of fixed wing and rotary

wing aircraft, especially helicopter crews. They enable Israel to attack refugee camps and

villages in the middle of the night, the time when many of these raids and assaults take place.

Battlefield communication radios allow the military to communicate with troops over a secure

channel.

MOTOROLA (NYSE:MOT) is engaged in a 400 million NIS ($93 million) project to

provide radar systems for enhancing security at illegal West Bank settlements deep inside

Palestinian territory. Motorola also has a $90-million contract to provide the Israeli army with an

advanced "Mountain Rose" cell phone communications system. Its wholly owned subsidiary in

Israel has a contract to develop encrypted wireless communications featuring vehicle mounted

antenna that will enable military use in the occupied territories and other remote areas.

TEREX (NYSE:TEX) subsidiary American Truck Company (ATC) signed a $54 million

agreement to supply 302 medium tactical trucks and associated logistical support to the Israeli

army. Terex also supplied TATRA trucks used by the Israeli army to mount artillery systems

during the time it owned a controlling interest in that company. Terex owns Amida Industries,

which manufactures mobile floodlight towers used by the Israeli Army in the Occupied

Territories. It also owns Terex Demag Cranes that are leased in Israel through Riwal, the major

crane supplier for Israel’s separation wall. Terex’s ATC still has a contract with the Israeli army

for training, service and spare parts.

UNITED TECHNOLOGIES (NYSE:UTX) produces Blackhawk helicopters that

are used by the Israeli military to attack Palestinian cities, refugee camps and villages. Many

civilians have been killed in these attacks. On February 1, 2001, United Technologies Sikorsky

Division announced a $211.8 million contract with the Israeli Air Force. United Technologies

Pratt and Whitney Division produces engines for Israel’s F-15 and F-16 aircraft, which are used

against Palestinians. In 2005, Israel awarded Pratt and Whitney a contract worth up to $600

million for fleet management of these engines over the next 10 years.

GENERAL ELECTRIC (NYSE:GE) supplies the propulsion system for Israel's

AH-64 Apache Assault Helicopter, which is used in Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns. It also

possesses contracts with Israel to sell engines for a variety of military aircraft. In addition, GE

possesses several Israeli service contracts for engineering support and testing.

Endorsements and Support

“The Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, salutes Hampshire College for its historic

decision to divest from companies implicated in Israel’s occupation and violation of international

law. Your principled and courageous decision is the clearest indicator yet in the United States

that a critical threshold has been crossed in undertaking effective, morally sound solidarity

measures to further the cause of justice and peace in Palestine and the region.”

--Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC)

Support From-

--Noam Chomsky, MIT

“I wholeheartedly support the call of the students of Hampshire College for an economic boycott

of Israel following the massacre perpetrated in Gaza.”

--John Berger

“As in the case of the Apartheid system of South Africa, the Israeli Apartheid system imposed in

Palestine leaves no option but to exercise pressure on Israel through BDS programs to break the

Apartheid system for the sake of the future of both peoples."

--Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Legislative Council

“To my knowledge It has never occurred in history before, that the Aggressor (Israel) been

rewarded and the Victim (Palestinians) demonized and punished by the International

Community. Why has this been allowed to happen? The actions of the Students of Hampshire

College by campaigning for divestment from financial ties with Israel is the first USA College to

try to bring the truth to light and redress this injustice. I hope your Divestment Campaign will

be taken up by other USA (and world) colleges, Universities and People, so that our voices

United will break the siege of Gaza, end the occupation of Palestine, and give hope to

Palestinians and Israelis who believe in human dignity, equality, and human rights for all. Well

done to you all!”

--Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

"I entirely endorse the actions of Hampshire College students in their campaign for divestment

from financial ties with Israel. Israel's current violence against Gaza, its long occupation of

Palestinian lands and its policies of apartheid are all unacceptable by any standards."

--Roger Waters, Musician, Pink Floyd

“I want to express my admiration and support for the actions of Hampshire College students in

their successful campaign for divestment from financial ties with Israel. It is extremely

important for Israel to know that its violence against Gaza and its long occupation of Palestinian

lands is not acceptable to people in the United States. I hope your campaign will set an example

for students all over the country, and lead to justice in the Middle East, as the divestment

campaign helped end apartheid in South Africa.”

--Dr. Howard Zinn

"I welcome the action of the Trustees of Hampshire College in divesting from companies that

directly profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This is a first step

towards bringing real moral and material pressure to bear against an occupation that has gone

on for over 41 years, and that must be ended if Palestinians and Israelis are to have peace."

--Rashid Khalidi Columbia University

“Your student group is to be commended for taking such an important and brave action. I am

pleased to sign your statement and I thank you for including me.”

-- Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney

“As a South African freedom fighter and recently retired minister in our democratic government

I salute your stand against apartheid Israel!”

--Ronnie Kasrils, ANC leader & Minister of South Africa

“I fully endorse the reasonable and courageous decision of Hampshire College's Board of

Trustees to divest all investments that support the Israeli occupation and oppression of the

Palestinian people.”

--David Theo Goldberg, Professor, University of California

“You are doing such great work! I have been wanting a chance to tell you how proud I am of

your activism and leadership in this struggle.”

--Leslie Feinberg, Co-founder Rainbow Flags for Mumia & co-founder Rainbow

Solidarity for the Cuban Five

“I strongly support this statement. Israel's settlement policy in the Occupied Territories is a war

crime. The wall Israel has been building in the Occupied Territories is designed to incorporate

these illegal settlements. The final five-point itemization of your statement makes

unambiguously clear that anyone who opposes such divestment supports war crimes.”

--Norman Finklestein

“I extend my enthusiastic congratulations to Hampshire College and to Students for Justice in

Palestine for your courageous stand in support of human rights. As we have all learned from

President Nelson Mandela, no one's freedom is complete until all are free. As Hampshire

College and all of us learned during the long and often difficult years of the South African antiapartheid

struggle, international support through non-violent economic pressure such as

divestment campaigns, plays an enormously important role. This is true in ending the Israeli

occupation as much as it was for ending South African apartheid. At this moment when our own

country is looking with hope towards a new era of change, we know that real change, based on

justice, is something we must not only believe in but also fight for. Your decision to divest from

Israeli occupation is part of that fight, and I applaud you for it.”

-- Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

“Please find our endorsement of Hampshire College SJP's recent divestment efforts. […] The

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and our 280 member groups around the country,

applauds Hampshire College for again being among the leaders of the movement to divest their

holdings in the service of human rights. As was the case with apartheid South Africa, the global

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to nonviolently pressure Israel to end

its systemic human rights abuses and violations of international law against Palestinians.

Economic isolation and international pressure are crucial components to ending the Israeli

confiscation of Palestinian land, expansion of Israel's illegal settlements, and Israel's targeting

of Palestinian civilian lives and infrastructure. Combined with boycott campaigns, divestment

both presses Israel to change its policies on human rights, and sends an important message to

corporations that investors and consumers refuse to be complicit in human rights abuses.

Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine's hard won campaign for divestment is truly

a beacon for students and faculty seeking to nonviolently bring justice to Palestinians and peace

and security to all. Peace & Power

-- Katherine M. Fuchs, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

"Every tiny act of disagreement with repression and injustice is critical. Gandhi rocked the

imperialist British Empire by the simple act of making salt. Hampshire College deserves to be

saluted for lending its small shoulder to a big cause."

--Luisa Morgantini, Vice President, EU parliament

"Given the central role that Americans have played in the prevention of justice for the

Palestinian people, the struggle for peace must be waged here as well. The brave decision taken

by Hampshire College to divest itself from further complicity in the illegal and immoral actions

undertaken by Israel may be seen in years to come as the first and decisive act in the move

towards a just and permanent peace in the region. We are all global citizens and Hampshire

College has just shown what that responsibility means. I applaud and whole-heartedly support

them in their efforts."

--Sut Jhally, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Support From:

--Tarun J. Tejpal, Internationally Acclaimed Author, Editor of the Magazine

Tehelka

--Adam Keller

--Beate Zilversmidt

--Hava Kelleradam, Members of Gush Shalom, (‘Peace Block’)

--Anat Biletski, Tel Aviv University

--Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University

 

 
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