Two important developments in the campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel over human rights violations. Last night the City University of New York (CUNY) Doctoral Students Council overwhelmingly endorsed academic boycott of Israel as a blow against “settler colonialism and structural racism.” And two days ago the University of Chicago student government voted, also overwhelmingly, that the university should divest itself from ten companies that profit from “apartheid” in military-occupied Palestine.
First Chicago. The divest group at the University of Chicago issued a joyous statement on the “apartheid” resolution, saying divestment would “finally put [the university] on the right side of history,” but that the struggle is not over. Excerpt with the news:
For the past two weeks, UofC Divest organizers and our allies have worked tirelessly to mobilize and educate members of the UChicago community, in order to pass our resolution calling upon the University of Chicago to finally put itself on the right side of history, and divest from companies currently complicit in the illegal occupation and apartheid system in Palestine/Israel. We are proud to announce that last night, our work paid off: College Council voted to pass UofC Divest’s Resolution to Divest University Funds from Apartheid with a vote of 8-4-3.
In addition to our substantial excitement about this victory, we’re also incredibly moved and humbled by the level of support UofC Divest has received in a few short weeks.
The university of Chicago administration promptly stated that it will not divest from companies doing business in Israel.
BTW, the divestment resolution was opposed by “UChicago Coalition for Peace” — a pro-Israel group in mufti.
On to CUNY, whose doctoral students council passed its academic boycott measure last night, with 42 votes in favor, 19 opposed and 9 abstentions. Full resolution is below. It includes two bold statements; first, the boycott of Israeli academic institutions:
the DSC will endorse the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions for as long as the Israeli state continues to violate Palestinian rights under international law
The resolution also affirms the doctoral students’ solidarity with the embattled Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at CUNY:
the DSC supports the efforts of Students for Justice in Palestine at CUNY and all others engaged in the struggle to end the occupation and colonization of Palestine
Remember that the SJPs at CUNY are under attack by the NY City Council. The Forward’s story on the CUNY vote is here.
CUNY chancellor James B. Milliken denounced the vote today:
CUNY has a long history of actively pursuing mutually beneficial relationships to further the interests of our faculty and students in education and research with leading institutions around the world, including those in Israel, and we intend to continue to do so. We are disappointed by this vote from one student group, but it will not change CUNY’s position.
The CUNY Grad Center president Chase Robinson also promptly denounced the vote today. He described the vote as a direct violation of academic freedom and said the relationship with Israel is a fruitful one for the university:
As I have noted before, and continue to assert: across the length of its history, the GC has fostered research collaborations and educational associations with scholars and universities from around the globe, including many fruitful connections with Israeli universities and scholarly organizations. We consider these partnerships as a vital part of our educational mission.
Resolution Endorsing the Boycott of Israeli
WHEREAS settler colonialism and structural racism work across the world, including in the United States, to disenfranchise, dispossess, and inflict violence upon specific groups of people for the benefit of others;
WHEREAS the unceasing military occupation and colonization of Palestine by the Israeli state is a manifestation of both settler colonialism and structural racism, supported politically, financially, and militarily by the U.S.;
WHEREAS the Israeli state systematically violates Palestinians’ rights under international law, including the right to education;
WHEREAS the Israeli state specifically violates Palestinians’ right to education by damaging Palestinian universities, colleges, and schools in military offensives; raiding students at those institutions and forcing the institutions to temporarily close for military or other reasons; restricting Palestinians’ movement to such an extent that it impedes their ability to attend and teach classes; and preventing students from traveling abroad to study or present research;
WHEREAS Israeli academic institutions, like U.S. academic institutions, are deeply embedded in state practices and receive extensive state funding;
WHEREAS Israeli academic institutions are complicit in the occupation and colonization of Palestine and the state’s violence against Palestinians by developing military hardware, weapons, drones, and surveillance technologies; offering military training courses and posts for high-ranking military officers; declaring, via their leaders and other surrogates, their support for Israeli military offensives; discriminating against Palestinian students; and repressing voices in support of Palestinians and their struggle for self-determination;
WHEREAS Palestinian civil society, including the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors, the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, has issued a global call for the academic and cultural boycott of the Israeli state, as part of the larger boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, as long as it violates Palestinian human and environmental rights anchored in international law;
WHEREAS dozens of academic bodies around the world, including the Association for Asian American Studies, the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, the African Literature Association, the American Studies Association, the graduate student worker union of the University of California, and, most recently, the American Anthropological Association and the National Women’s Studies Association, have endorsed or recommended the boycott of Israeli academic institutions, and more, including the Modern Language Association and the Middle Eastern Studies Association, are considering doing so, altogether making the issue of academic boycott a central one of the academic profession;
WHEREAS the Israeli state commands extraordinarily more power both on the ground and internationally than do the Palestinians, as shown, in just one example, by the effort of New York State legislators to suspend Students for Justice in Palestine at the City University of New York (CUNY);
WHEREAS the Doctoral Students’ Council (DSC) has passed resolutions in support of justice and social change throughout its existence, from condemning the Vietnam War to, this academic year alone, supporting students repressed by the state at both CUNY and Jawaharlal Nehru University in India; and
WHEREAS the DSC understands that the boycott of Israeli academic institutions is expressly not the boycott of individual Israeli students or scholars, nor does it prohibit collaboration between DSC representatives and Israeli students and scholars, but that it is constitutionally protected free speech in support of the Palestinian call for solidarity to end the occupation and colonization of Palestine;
Be it RESOLVED that the DSC will endorse the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions for as long as the Israeli state continues to violate Palestinian rights under international law; and
Be it further RESOLVED that the DSC supports the efforts of Students for Justice in Palestine at CUNY and all others engaged in the struggle to end the occupation and colonization of Palestine.