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‘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

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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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8 Responses

  1. kalithea
    April 3, 2013, 5:39 pm

    Where are all the comments of support?

    UC Riverside:


    Please do not take a backward step.

  2. tokyobk
    April 3, 2013, 8:08 pm

    “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.”

    These are the kinds of words that make it into the hearts of good minded people and create similarity to Civil Rights and anti-Apartheid. They are also the basis of any real One State solution, since One State acknowledges all of the people living there and does not deny Jewish desire or legitimacy (within a moral structure) in that region.

  3. seafoid
    April 4, 2013, 5:18 am

    “Stand firm in your principles and reject apartheid wherever it is practiced. ”

    Stand with the Baal Shem Tov and eternal Jewish values of decency and justice and throw out the charlatans!

  4. pabelmont
    April 4, 2013, 11:37 am

    The resolution does indeed make the campus “divisive”. As it should. It divides those who support the occupation (and detest BDS) from those who want to roll back the occupation.

    And when people stand up to the pro-Israel camp, I hope they will be issuing a very important message, particularly if they state their position clearly: they are not anti-Jewish, not even anti-Israeli, merely anti-occupation, anti-settlement and anti-wall and anti-siege. They are anti-apartheid and Israel’s occupation — not of necessity but by deliberate Israeli choice — participates in the very worst apartheid.

    They should invite all the friends of Israel on campus to come and stand with them! Just to show that the “divisiveness” is all on the part of the pro-apartheid crowd.

    All my hopes are with them.

  5. April 4, 2013, 8:16 pm

    On the subject of BDS, this from “Campaign to End The Isreali Occupation”

    Victories, Opposition, & Days of Action Show Our Strength & Your Support Is Needed!

    Times are changing. Something that once felt far out of reach for U.S. academic institutions is now getting frequent enough that sometimes it’s hard to keep up! BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) victories are unfolding on campuses across the nation in response to extraordinary efforts by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and similar campus groups.

    In the past five months alone, the student senates at three University of California (UC) campuses, including UC Irvine and UC San Diego, passed resolutions for divestment from companies involved in the Israeli occupation! All resolutions passed by wide margins or unanimously. If you’re inspired by the University of California, check out this brand new Introduction to Palestine and BDS booklet that the UCLA SJP put together!

    The third UC BDS resolution passed was at UC Riverside. Unfortunately, the Electronic Intifada reported today that the senate overturned the resolution following pressure from anti-BDS groups, but plans to reconsider the vote again next Wednesday.

    Two days after UC Irvine’s victory announcement, Brown University’s Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies, after years of engagement with the campus SJP, called on the Brown Corporation to consider divestment from companies involved in human rights violations in Palestine.

    Are you a student interested in working towards a BDS victory on your campus? Apply to join the 2013 Summer BDS Institute for Student Leaders!

    The five-day intensive program for BDS student organizers, facilitated by member groups American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace, is an amazing opportunity not to be missed! The application deadline is April 15th. [Facebook event page]

    Each of these BDS breakthroughs comes on the shoulders of other campus divestment victories, including Evergreen State College, University of Massachusetts, Arizona State University, DePaul University, and of course Hampshire College. As students on each successful campus group will tell you, these wins are usually achieved only after many years of research, networking, skills-building, actions, and campaigning. Many groups are paving the way today for future BDS victories with such events and activities now.

    IAW logoJust last month, groups around the world observed both Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) and Palestinian Land Day with international coordinated actions. Dallas, TX; Seattle, WA; and San Francisco, CA were among those U.S. cities that commemorated Palestinian Land Day. More than two dozen U.S. cities participated in this year’s IAW, representing more than 20% of all IAW participating cities worldwide! Congratulations to the dozens of member groups and others who took part, in cities including Birmingham, AL; Chapel Hill and Durham, NC; Denton, Austin, and Houston, TX; Kent, OH; Milwaukee, WI; Ithaca and New York City, NY; Tallahassee, FL; Boston, MA; and more than a dozen others!

    Activities on campuses and beyond included building mock walls and mock checkpoints, bus stop rallies in solidarity with the Palestinian Freedom Riders, cultural events, political prisoner solidarity hunger strikes, teach-ins, poetry readings, concerts, BDS trainings, op-eds, film screenings, educational events countering pinkwashing, panel discussions connecting the struggle for justice in Palestine with other indigenous struggles, and much, much more!

    You can see photos on the USA-IAW Tumblr, and visit USA-IAW on Facebook and on Twitter as report backs come in!

    All in all, member groups and other allies organized well over 100 activities, building onto the energy of recent victories and illustrating the extraordinary growth of the movement to end U.S. institutional support for Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies, and to promote freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians. Our movement is making incredible strides — check out this list of 2012 BDS victories worldwide compiled by Electronic Intifada — thanks to the terrific work of member groups and others.

    The stronger the movement gets the more opposition it will face and the more we must support one another. Now is one of those times.

    Petitions can be signed at their website: http://WWW.ENDTHEOCCUPATION.ORG

    • JustJessetr
      April 10, 2013, 12:45 pm

      Uh, I know for certain that Hampshire College didn’t divest. Please get ALL your facts straight before you post. This was quite easy to find. How much of your post is still incorrect?

      BDS claims victory on Feb 2009.

      Hampshire College clarifies their position, unambiguously on Feb 24th.

      “Hampshire College recently voted to divest from the State Street SSgA Fund after an internal review board concluded that companies in the fund violated the school’s socially responsible investment standards. In an open letter to Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, Hampshire College President Ralph J. Hexter and Chair of the Board of Trustees Sigmund Roos wrote: “this review did not include Israel, its interaction with the Palestinians, nor its presence on the West Bank as tests for the stocks in this fund. Moreover, Hampshire currently holds investments in funds that include many hundreds of companies that do business in Israel and in at least three actual Israeli companies: Amdocs, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Check Point Software. No other college or university should use Hampshire as a precedent for divesting from Israel, since Hampshire has refused to divest from Israel. Anyone who claims otherwise is deliberately misrepresenting Hampshire’s decision and has no right to speak for the college.”

      • annie
        April 11, 2013, 12:11 am

        justj, i am not sure the links contradict eachother. one says

        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.

        Meeting minutes from a committee of Hampshire’s Board of Trustees confirm that “President Hexter acknowledged that it was the good work of SJP that brought this issue to the attention of the committee.”

        the other says:

        Hampshire College recently voted to divest from the State Street SSgA Fund after an internal review board concluded that companies in the fund violated the school’s socially responsible investment standards.

        hillel’s letter doesn’t claim hampshire is still investing in those six specific companies.

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