‘Do not stand silent. Do not retreat. Do not back down’: Desmond Tutu and Roger Waters call on UC Riverside to stand behind divestment vote

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
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Tonight the University of California Riverside Associated Students will vote on whether to rescind a March 6th vote in favor of divestment from Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard for their involvement in the Israeli occupation. If the vote to rescind passes the divestment resolution to a new vote. This move comes after a month of intense pressure from pro-Israel activists and organizations. Nora Barrows-Friedman reports for Electronic Intifada:

Members of the UC Riverside student senate have been inundated with calls and emails by Israel-aligned individuals and members of on-campus Zionist student groups following the passage of the resolution, who are claiming that the senators “misrepresented” the student body and that the resolution has made the campus atmosphere “more divisive,” according to a student senator who spoke to The Electronic Intifada by phone on Tuesday evening.

In turn, several notable supporters of Palestinian human rights are calling on UC Riverside student leaders to reaffirm their earlier vote.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu issued the following statement today:

Dear Associated Students of the University of California Riverside,

Your vote in support of “Divestment from companies that profit from apartheid” was an important statement of principle. The fact that companies are profiting from Israeli apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories and comfortable with dozens of discriminatory laws within Israel is appalling. I have seen the deeply troublesome apartheid conditions that Israel has created inside the West Bank with the dual standard of law that discriminates against Palestinians. It is unacceptable.

I urge you to stand firm for equality and human rights — as well as against racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism — and not to backtrack on your courageous vote. Just as we defeated apartheid in South Africa so can we defeat Israel’s brand of apartheid and help Palestinians and Israelis alike secure a future of peace and equality. Your vote is not insignificant. It is votes such as yours that created the wave of momentum toward freedom in South Africa and sped up that glorious day of justice and equality in my homeland. The same thing can happen again today in securing freedom for Palestinians.

Do not stand silent. Do not retreat. Do not back down. Stand firm in your principles and reject apartheid wherever it is practiced. Your courage is admirable as you put your university on the right side of history.

And Roger Waters released the following:

Dear Senators of University of California, Riverside
 
Many congratulations on passing a bill calling for divestment from corporations that abuse human rights in occupied Palestine. You are part of the growing, non violent, resistance, in global civil society to Israel’s many violations of international law. I just heard on the grapevine that there will be an attempt to hijack and reverse the bill by the pro Israel lobby at a meeting tonight. 
 
Be strong, you are on the right side of the argument. It is always right to support the oppressed. The founding fathers, the authors of the constitution of these United States of America were right to avow that “All men have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
That sentiment includes The Palestinian and Israeli peoples, it includes Rachel Corrie, killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer, and all the other victims of the occupation on both sides. You are part of the first stirrings of protest, not against Israel, not against the Israeli people, not against Jews, but against the illegal, unjust, immoral,and inhumane policies of the Israeli government. I am proud of you and stand with you in solidarity.
 
With great respect

Roger Waters

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