Brown University SJP sent out the following press release today:
(Providence, RI – November 14, 2012) — The Brown Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies (ACCRIP) has asked the Brown Corporation to consider divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. On Monday, ACCRIP sent a letter to Brown University President Christina Paxson. The letter stated that:
For the past two years we have had an ongoing dialogue with Brown Students for Justice in Palestine (BSJP). The group raises serious allegations that major US corporations in which Brown may be an investor, such as Caterpillar, Boeing, and others, are ‘profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.’ The BSJP calls for Brown to divest from companies that are involved in maintaining said abuse.
The documented abuses of Palestinian citizens by the Israeli Defense Force in the Occupied Territories are deeply troubling. Israel is indisputably engaged in ongoing systemic abuses of human rights and violations of international law, as documented by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice.
This has led to ongoing discussions within our committee about the best way forward. We recognize that the conflict between Palestine and Israel is many faceted and deeply divisive from both personal and institutional perspectives, but the relevant evidence suggests that Brown may be invested in firms whose products and services are being used to commit human rights violations in Palestine.
ACCRIP is an advisory committee comprised of Brown University faculty, staff, alumni, and students that considers issues of ethical and moral responsibility in the investment policies of Brown University. The committee was formed in recognition of the role that institutional divestment played in pressuring South Africa to end its official policy of apartheid in 1994. In recent years, the Brown corporation has accepted ACCRIP recommendations that Brown refrain from reinvesting in HEI Hotels and Resorts due to worker’s rights violations (2010); divest from companies supporting the Sudanese government and the Darfur genocide (2006); and divest from companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco products.
The letter to Paxson comes three years after BSJP officially launched its divestment campaign, in November of 2009. The group formed in February of 2009, in response to the bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009 that killed over 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
If Brown divests, it will be the first Ivy League University to do so on grounds of companies’ involvement in the Israeli occupation. In 2009, Hampshire College became the first U.S. university to divest from such companies. BSJP is among roughly one hundred U.S. campus groups urging institutional divestment from companies involved in human rights abuses by Israel. Most recently, on November 13th, 2012 the student government at the University of California, Irvine resolved unanimously (16-0) to divest from Israel’s apartheid and occupation. This is the second divestment vote to pass successfully this year. The first was at Arizona State University.