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‘Road to South Africa has never been shorter’ — as U of Chicago launches divestment campaign

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Yesterday two signal events took place in the movement to boycott Israel over the occupation. First, Bar Heffetz, an Israeli farmer, kibbutznik and peace activist, writes that BDS is working, and how. (Original Hebrew post here; translation from Sol Salbe’s Facebook page)

Contrary to what you get told, the boycott and BDS are working, and how. At you can feel it everywhere, at least in my field of agricultural exports to Europe. And that’s apart from the fact that you must sign a document that your produce does not come from the settlements, with aerial photographs attached. Even plain Israeli products [from inside the Green Line] encounter a lot of problems because the buyers cannot think of a reason why they need all that hassle. Buy from Spain and it’s all simple and quiet. And what is really nice about it, is that government departments such as the Ministry of Agriculture headed by that top Rightist Uri Ariel cooperate with all this. They provide official documents that indicate separate production lines do exist which are free of settlements’ produce, for those who wish to export to Europe The conclusion? The road to South Africa has never been shorter.

Thousands of miles away yesterday, a group at the University of Chicago announced a new divestment campaign yesterday with the statement below. The target of the campaign is quite focused: ten international companies (eight of them American) that “perpetuate apartheid and human rights abuses by providing technology and resources used by the Israeli military and government to attack and kill Palestinian civilians, maintain and build the Apartheid Wall and checkpoints, and destroy Palestinian property for the purpose of building illegal settlements.”


University of Chicago divestment campaign

University of Chicago divestment campaign


Palestinian flag unfurled at University of Chicago divestment campaign launch

Palestinian flag unfurled at University of Chicago divestment campaign launch

We, a diverse coalition of students at the University of Chicago, come together as UofC Divest to call upon the College Council of the University of Chicago to pass a resolution urging the university to financially divest from companies presently complicit in, or profiting off of, the State of Israel’s ongoing system of military occupation, apartheid, and other human rights violations in Palestine/Israel. We act in direct response to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and is endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties and organizations. The BDS movement calls on Israel to comply with international law by (1) Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall, (2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The specific corporations our resolution targets for divestment are Boeing, Caterpillar, Cemex, Elbit Systems, General Electric, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lockheed Martin, Motorola Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. Collectively, these companies perpetuate apartheid and human rights abuses by providing technology and resources used by the Israeli military and government to attack and kill Palestinian civilians, maintain and build the Apartheid Wall and checkpoints, and destroy Palestinian property for the purpose of building illegal settlements. For example, Boeing supplies aircraft, missiles, and weapons used to attack Palestinians in the occupied territories including during the 2014 summer assault on Gaza, which, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, damaged or destroyed over 144 kindergartens, killed 2,205 Palestinians, displaced over 500,000, and left 108,000 homeless. Cemex operates four factories on occupied land and produces concrete elements used in the construction of illegal settlements, the Apartheid Wall, and checkpoints; and Elbit Systems Ltd. provides the electronic detection fence and surveillance cameras for the Apartheid Wall and supplies unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used to kill and maim Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Unfortunately, the University of Chicago has a long history of both failing to take socially responsible stances and actively perpetuating systems of oppression. Our university failed to divest from South Africa and Darfur even though many of our peer institutions did. The school also failed to divest from fossil fuels or to form a socially responsible investment committee, even though both initiatives were supported by an overwhelming majority (70-80%) of the student body. It has played a major role both locally and nationally in perpetuating segregation and gentrification. Other anti-Black components of the school’s history include maintaining a huge, unaccountable private police force and flatly refusing to provide trauma care to the South Side, until relentless activism from a coalition led by young Black organizers forced the university to change course. The University of Chicago is currently under investigation for multiple Title IX violations, has perpetuated unfair labor practices, and consistently fails to adequately address racist, homophobic, transphobic, islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Palestinian incidents on campus. On a global scale, the Chicago School of Economics was a major producer and proponent of economic theories and policies that lead to the dismantling of the welfare state, decimation of poor and middle class communities, and rise of mass incarceration. Additionally, it aided and abetted multiple murderous, racist, and anti-Semitic Latin American regimes.

As students and alumni of the University of Chicago, we know such history and such (in)actions are not neutral, or a mere byproduct of open discourse. We feel compelled to work to change this shameful legacy and put the university, at last, on the right side of history. As the recent victory of the trauma center coalition’s 5-year campaign has demonstrated, sustained organizing and activism works, and can enact supposedly impossible change at our seemingly immovable institution.

Because of our powerful belief in justice and equity for all people, we are proud to bring our resolution calling for divestment from companies complicit in Israeli apartheid before College Council this spring quarter. We urge other members of the university community, including students, former students, faculty, and alumni, to support us as well by signing our petition ( and checking out other ways to get involved!

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21 Responses

  1. chocopie
    March 29, 2016, 10:38 am

    It’s great to see the Palestinian solidarity groups so active at all the large Chicago universities–DePaul, Loyola, UIC, UofC. Lots of bright young Palestinians in Chicago, love it!

  2. amigo
    March 29, 2016, 11:02 am

    Don,t tell Steve Grover .It might knock the wind out of his beloved Chicago.

    • chocopie
      March 29, 2016, 2:05 pm

      Never heard of him. He’s probably from the burbs.

    • Steve Grover
      Steve Grover
      March 29, 2016, 5:50 pm

      Grover replied to amigo but the reply was deleted. The reply didn’t violate this:
      But there is the trolling catch-all possibility.

      • Boo
        March 30, 2016, 12:04 pm

        I guess that’s the “commenting” equivalent of being too close to a demonstration and catching a rubber bullet, eh?

  3. Kay24
    March 29, 2016, 12:51 pm

    Yep, despite that bravado shown by has brats, BDS has really hit where it hurts most. Nice.

    It must be doing some damage, because Nutty has deployed his minions to combat it, and even made the US Congress pass anti BDS resolutions, and losing billions of dollars must be leaving them quite irritated. Heh. This is the result of apartheid policies and a decades long occupation.
    The zionists deserve what is coming.

  4. Citizen
    March 29, 2016, 4:01 pm

    Meanwhile the list of US states sporting anti-BDS legislation grows–with total silence from the main media although the legislation seems unconstitutional on its face.

  5. pabelmont
    March 29, 2016, 5:34 pm

    U of Chicago! Hah! right in Rahm Emanuel’s backyard. Delicious.

  6. Spring Renouncer
    Spring Renouncer
    March 29, 2016, 6:14 pm

    Very good news; best of luck to these students.

    By the way Philip, when will you write about Rula Jebreal’s new presence on CNN? She was pitted against Dershowitz on islamophobia, and Israel-Palestine was the elephant in the room. Sparks flew, and FINALLY there was some real opposition to the Zionist, islamophobic point of view! Generally pro-Israel commentators are pitted against tepid, apathetic centrists on CNN and other networks, not anymore it seems. Change is happening fast: very interesting.

  7. arbtrader
    March 30, 2016, 7:14 am

    do exist which are free of settlements’ produce, for those who wish to export to Europe The conclusion? The road to South Africa has never been shorter. – See more at:

  8. JustJessetr
    March 30, 2016, 9:08 am

    Phil, the truth must not be as bad as you think if you have to lie to convince people, and in a headline no less.

    The University of Chicago is considering nothing of the sort. Yes, as you finally say, some students are. But when you lie straight off the bat, i simply don’t trust anything you say.

    You’re a liar, Phil. Caught red-handed.

    • amigo
      March 30, 2016, 1:28 pm

      “You’re a liar, Phil. Caught red-handed.” justjester

      You go jester.You have been deceived.Demand all your contributions back.

      BTW , I don,t think it is a good idea to call the owner of the site on which you are a guest , a liar .Especially coming from a zionist apologist troll who lives to lie and lies to live.Not smart at all.

      • Mooser
        March 30, 2016, 4:22 pm

        .“Especially coming from a zionist apologist troll who lives to lie and lies to live”

        You mean the prices at the Park Slope Co-op aren’t as good as I thought? Can’t get a bargain these days.

    • Mooser
      March 30, 2016, 4:20 pm

      “You’re a liar, Phil.”

      Uh-oh, a NUPV! And a bad hit, several. This one’s gonna hurt.

  9. Ellenross
    March 30, 2016, 1:53 pm

    Good news for a somewhat disaffected alumna.

  10. JustJessetr
    March 31, 2016, 10:22 am

    Phil? Please explain why you lied to your readership. I don’t consider the fools who have answered in your name to be acceptable.

    • michelle
      March 31, 2016, 1:32 pm

      i don’t see a lie
      people are being inspired to take action
      it’s working …. and how
      members of the student body aka the heart of the school has launched a BDS campaign
      though it seems like BDS is moving slow
      slower than the river of blood it is trying to stop
      one wonders why BDS doesn’t include those who are putting up walls against the peaceful BDS effort to end conflict …. why do these peace rejecting people want bloodshed
      G-d Bless

    • Mooser
      March 31, 2016, 6:55 pm

      “Please explain why you lied to your readership.”

      Oh, probably just to see you click a few more times, write a few more comments. Just to listen to you kvetch.
      Why, did you think there was some other reason?

  11. Kathleen
    March 31, 2016, 12:54 pm

    Good news…thanks Phil. Interesting that Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow play softball with Hillary having to do with her proven war record. Well Matthews did ask her a few questions in her his latest interview with her. But barely scratched.

    Maddow’s interview with her last night was totally a softball game. Never even got close to challenging Clinton on her war record.

    Dr. Jeffrey Sachs was on Morning Joe this morning (Thursday) going after Clinton’s war jugular. They did not allow Sachs on very long. Sachs “Hillary the warmonger in this campaign. Sanders the candidate of peace” Worth watching.

    Chris Matthews willing to dig into Trump on his nuclear weapon statements but of course never touched Clinton’s inflammatory “totally obliterate” claims about Iran not so long ago.

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