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.
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
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 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
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.
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
5. Provide products or services that contribute to violent acts that target either Israeli or
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
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)
--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.”
“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
--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.”
“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
--Tarun J. Tejpal, Internationally Acclaimed Author, Editor of the Magazine
--Hava Kelleradam, Members of Gush Shalom, (‘Peace Block’)
--Anat Biletski, Tel Aviv University
--Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University