On February 15th, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Minnesota (SJPUMN) launched their UMN Divest campaign #UMNDivest. They created an attractive graphic for their campaign, note the olive branch (above). I then found the following graphic on the Academic Engagement Network(AEN) Facebook page crudely mimicking the UMNDivest graphic with the inclusion of a swastika in place of the olive branch. The text underneath reads:
THE PREMIER JEW HATING GROUP
ON YOUR CAMPUS
(we make hating jews cool)
AEN was established by Mark Yudof, former president of both the University of California and the University of Minnesota, to enlist pro-Israel faculty to ‘catalyze campuses’ against BDS on U.S. colleges and universities. AEN is not responsible for creating the swastika graphic, but points to Students Supporting Israel at the University of Minnesota (SSI) in a Facebook statement. AEN says SSI, “has decided to introduce their own resolution about anti-semitism” and asks “Is this the best way to combat divestment? We don’t think so”. AEN did not directly reference the swastika graphic in their comment and it is unclear who created the graphic.
One wonders how University of Minnesota administrators reacted to student groups being demonized with the use of swastikas?
UMN students and community members explain UMNDivest and why they are engaged in the divestment initiative in the following video. These are some of the people being demonized in the graphic which includes the swastika:
The University of Minnesota divestment vote is on March 8th. SJPUMN is working in conjunction with over 30 UMN student groups to divest from companies profiting off the occupation.
SJPUMN Press Release:
Call to the Minnesota Student Association, UMN to Support the Divestment from Companies that Profit from Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel
We, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University in Minnesota, in conjunction with over 30 UMN student organizations and faculty, call on our administration and Minnesota Student Association to pass a resolution requesting the University of Minnesota to financially divest from corporations that directly profit from human rights violations. Divestment is the removing of investment from corporations that profit from human rights abuses and violations of international law.
We call for the Divestment of four specific companies: Elbit Systems, G4S, Caterpillar, and Raytheon. The University of Minnesota’s investments in these companies shows implicit support for the decisions and actions of these companies, as well as their consequences, which include the killing of civilians, and violations of their basic human rights. By divesting from these corporations, our University would be refusing to be complicit in human rights violations. Our University should uphold its policy of Social Responsibility (Subd 5 of Board of Regents Policy) which “seeks out investments that support sustainability and refuses to invest in weapons, tobacco or engage in unethical business practices”.
The divestment of these companies would neutralize the University of Minnesota in this conflict as well as serve to continue our legacy of being socially responsible.
The call to divest is a response to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement- a global campaign to pressure Israel into complying with international law and to recognize Palestinians’ rights. BDS was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and is endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties and organizations that represent Palestinian refugees and Palestinians living under occupation in Israel and the West Bank.
We, the students, call upon our university to dissociate itself from companies that engage or aid in systematic prejudiced oppression, whether this system targets people based on their religion, nationality, gender, race or orientation, by divesting from companies that participate in or profit from human rights violations. The inalienable rights of the Palestinian people should not be infringed upon or disregarded.
Read the status of UMN’s investments in the companies outlined by the divestment campaign here.