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NYU student government passes resolution to divest from corporations that violate Palestinian human rights


The New York University (NYU) Student Government Assembly passed a divestment resolution inspired by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) on December 6th by a vote of 35 in favor, 14 against, and 14 abstaining, meeting the ⅔ threshold that was 33 votes. This is the first resolution of this nature ever to be presented at NYU. The “Resolution on the Human Rights of Palestinians” calls for divesting from corporations that violate Palestinian human rights and calls on NYU to adopt a socially responsible investment policy that upholds human rights for all. The resolution was presented by Senators-at-Large Bayan Abubakr and Rose Asaf along with Alternate Senator-at-Large Leen Dweik. Asaf, Abubakr, and Dweik are all seniors at NYU and members of Students for Justice in Palestine. Additionally, Asaf is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

NYU SJP logo

“I co-authored this resolution because I have a role and stake in the Palestinian struggle for liberation and justice. To quote Lilla Watson, all of our liberations are bound together. As a first-generation Sudanese-American Muslim, I cannot idly stand by as the institution that I attend perpetuates imperial violence in Palestine and beyond. I want NYU to reckon with the fact that it profits off of the destruction of Palestinian livelihoods, communities, and homes.” – Bayan Abubakr, Senator-at-Large and Students for Justice in Palestine NYU member.

Targeting three corporations – Caterpillar Inc., Lockheed Martin, and General Electric – the resolution brings attention to the ways in which these corporations violate Palestinian human rights. The resolution calls on the university to divest from these companies as well as others complicit in human rights abuses of Palestinians and globally. The resolution ultimately calls on the university to implement a socially responsible investment model, which would put in a place a screen to ensure the university’s investments that uphold human rights for all.

“As a Palestinian, this resolution is deeply personal to me. As an NYU student, it hurts and shocks me that the university would continue to invest in companies that directly contribute to the human rights violations of my family and my people.” – Leen Dweik, Alternate Senator-at-Large and Students for Justice in Palestine member.

The resolution is supported by 61 student groups listed in Appendix A. These include the undergraduate student government of the NYU Silver School of Social Work, the Black Student Union, the Interfaith Students of Color Coalition at NYU and the NYU College Libertarians, amongst others. In addition to these clubs, there are 34 faculty endorsements who are listed in Appendix B. The presentation of the resolution comes a month after more than thirty student groups at NYU pledged non-cooperation with the NYU Tel Aviv campus. This also comes weeks after student activists organized to get a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos cancelled. NYU’s study body now joins Barnard College’s, which passed a referendum in support of divestment last year.

“As an American-Israeli Jewish person, I am co-authoring this resolution because of my identity — not in spite of it. I believe that I, as a Jewish person, have a responsibility to support Palestinians in their struggle for justice and liberation. NYU likes to give the illusion that it is a progressive institution, but how progressive can it actually be when it is actively funding human rights violations?” – Rose Asaf, Senator at-Large and Jewish Voice for Peace-NYU member.

The resolution will next need to be heard by the University Senate, consisting of students, faculty, deans, and staff. If the resolution passes University Senate, it will be sent to the Board of Trustees for consideration.

Appendix A: Supporting Groups

  1. Advocate Coalition (Against) Trafficking at NYU (Re-ACT)
  2. African Heritage Month
  3. African Student Union
  4. NYU Aftab Literary Magazine
  5. NYU Against Fascism
  6. Arab Students United
  7. Asian American Women’s Alliance at NYU
  8. Asian Heritage Month
  9. NYU Asian Pacific American Coalition
  10. Bella Quisqueya (BQ)
  11. Black and Brown Coalition at NYU
  12. NYU Black Muslim Initiative
  13. Black Students Union (BSU)
  14. Brownstone Publication
  15. Campgrrl
  16. NYU Coalition on Law & Representation (CoLR)
  17. NYU College Libertarians
  18. NYU Disorient
  19. NYU Divest for Climate Justice
  20. NYU Dream Team
  21. Gentlemen of Quality (GQ)
  22. GSOC-UAW Local 2110 — The Union for Graduate Employees at New York University
  23. Haitian American Students Association (HASA)
  24. Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc.
  25. Incarceration to Education Coalition
  26. NYU International Socialist Organization
  27. NYU Jewish Voice for Peace
  28. La Herencia Latina
  29. Latinos Unidos Con Honor y Amistad at NYU (LUCHA)
  30. NYU Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP)
  31. Malaysian Students Association
  32. NYU Mexican Student Association (MexSA)
  33. Mosaic: The Interfaith Students of Color Coalition at NYU
  34. MuCh — Muslim Christian Dialogue at NYU
  35. Muslim Graduate Student Group
  36. NYU Muslim Students Association
  37. National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at NYU
  38. Native American and Indigenous Student Group at NYU
  39. The Omicron Chapter of Phi Iota Alpha
  40. Pakistani Students Association at NYU
  41. NYU PorColombia
  42. NYU Sanctuary Student Taskforce
  43. SHADES: For LGBTQ Students of Color and Allies at NYU
  44. Shuruq: Islamic Heritage Month
  45. NYU Slam! Poetry Club
  46. NYU Students Against Gentrification and Expansion
  47. NYU Students for Justice in Palestine
  48. Student Labor Action Movement at NYU
  49. NYU Tandon Muslim Students Association
  50. Turkish Student Association at NYU
  51. T-Party at NYU
  52. NYU ¡Viva Perú!
  53. NYU Young Democratic Socialists of America
  54. Biracial and Multicultural Student Association
  55. NYU-Wagner’s Black Student Association
  56. Justice Initiative at Global Public Health NYU
  57. Map Club at NYU
  58. Nutrition Without Borders at Global Public Health NYU
  59. NYU Silver Undergraduate Student Government Association
  60. Bioethics @ NYU
  61. Anthropology Undergraduate Student Association

Appendix B: Faculty Support

  1. Andrew Ross, Professor
  2. Arang Keshavarzian, Associate Professor
  3. Arun Kundani, Visiting Assistant Professor
  4. Barbara Weinstein, Silver Professor
  5. Bertell Ollman, Professor
  6. Diana Taylor, Professor
  7. Elaine Freedgood, Professor
  8. Fred Moten, Professor
  9. Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Professor
  10. Greg Grandin, Professor
  11. Harty Field, Professor
  12. James S. Uleman, Professor and T-FSC Senator
  13. Jeff Goodwin, Professor
  14. Jini Watson, Associate Professor
  15. John Michael Archer, Professor
  16. Kathy Engel, Associate Professor
  17. Lenora Hanson, Assistant Professor
  18. Lisa Duggan, Professor
  19. Maria Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, Professor
  20. Marie Cruz Soto, Clinical Assistant Professor
  21. Marie Monaco, Associate Professor
  22. Mark Crispin Miller, Professor
  23. Monica Kim, Assistant Professor
  24. Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor
  25. Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor
  26. Rebecca E. Karl, Professor
  27. Renee Blake, Associate Professor
  28. Sonya Posmentier, Associate Professor
  29. Thuy Linh Tu, Associate Professor
  30. Timothy J. Reiss, Emeritus Professor
  31. Valerie Forman, Associate Professor
  32. Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor of Practice
  33. Vivek Chibber, Professor
  34. Zachary Lockman, Professor
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3 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont on December 7, 2018, 5:21 pm


  2. Misterioso
    Misterioso on December 8, 2018, 1:28 pm

    Victory in South Africa:


    SOUTH AFRICA: BDS STATEMENT: Defeat for Israeli lobby, Victory for Freedom of Expression & Palestine Solidarity, 07 December 2018

    “The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation, BDS South Africa, joins other progressive organisations and trade unions in welcoming South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling that has cleared the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and its International Relations Secretary from false accusations of anti-Semitism and hate speech. This is a victory for freedom of expression and Palestine solidarity as well as a blow to the Israeli lobby.

    “The ruling, handed down earlier this week (04 December 2018), was supported by all five judges who heard the matter (Justices Lewis, Wallis, Zondi, Matojane and Dambuza). According to the press release by COSATU:

    “’The Israeli lobby (SA Jewish Board of Deputies) took both COSATU and its International Secretary to the Equality Court, falsely accusing the federation and its official of anti-Semitism and hate speech. This was an attempt to silence and isolate the federation and all supporters of freedom for the Palestinian people. This was not just a trial against COSATU and its International Secretary, Bongani Masuku, but effectively a trial against workers’ rights to offer solidarity, freedom of expression and the struggle for justice and dignity for all.’”

    “The Israeli lobby, particularly, the SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) should end their endless false accusations of anti-Semitism against those who are critical of the State of Israel. It is becoming clearer by the day that the charge of anti-Semitism is a smoke-screen behind which they hope to hide Israel’s crimes. Our courts have made it clear, criticizing the Israeli Apartheid regime is protected speech in South Africa!

    “In 2011 the Israeli lobby attempted to remove a Palestine solidarity BDS advert from our state broadcaster, the SABC, which they deemed anti-Semitic; however, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against them and in favor of the Palestine solidarity movement. The Israeli lobby also pressured a billboard company to remove an advert by BDS South Africa and on this matter, too, South Africa’s High Court, in 2014, ruled against the removal and in favor of the Palestine solidarity movement. All these shenanigans are part of a global campaign by the Israeli lobby of vilifying & de-platforming those who speak up for Palestinian rights and human dignity. While anti-Semitism is real in some parts of the world, it is also shamelessly abused by the Israeli lobby groups to shield Israeli Apartheid and its atrocities against the Palestinians from criticism and accountability.

    “The Supreme Court of Appeal, in its ruling, notes that COSATU’s International Relations Secretary was subjected to SAJBD and Israeli supporters shouting “Heil Hitler” at him and that the federation received abusive mails, emails, phone calls and other threats from Israeli supporters, two such messages directed at COSATU from that time are reproduced here:

    “’Even when all the monkeys in Cosatu have died of Aids (even those who were cured by raping babies), I still won’t return [to SA]. Jews should be in Israel supporting Israel – Friends – make Aliya! Do it!’

    “’Let us bombard the COSATU offices with phone calls to let them know our anger. It is harder to ignore phone calls than emails. Maybe we should start a policy that Israel-loyal Jews refuse to employ COSATU members in retaliation for COSATU’s evil actions.’

    “Africans have historically been dehumanised through calling them monkeys. By not publicly condemning this blatant racism by their supporters, the Israeli lobby, notably the SAJBD and SAZF, have associated themselves with these statements. Unsurprisingly, this mirrors their silence on the expulsion of over 40 000 African refugees from Israel.

    “Finally we commend those members of the Jewish community who distance themselves from the narrow-minded and racist SAJBD. These members of the Jewish community are proof that there is more to Jewishness and Judaism than a racist and tribal chauvinism that is blind to suffering, injustice and occupation. The Supreme Court of Appeal in its judgement noted that the ‘SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation published an open letter in which they expressed support for the Israeli actions’ against the Palestinians in 2009 which left over 1000 Palestinians dead.’

    “The judgement also noted, importantly, that, also in 2009, while the SAJBD supported the Israeli actions and violence, an open letter was also signed by over 300 members of the South African Jewish community, distancing themselves from the SAJBD’s support of Israel’s violent actions.”


  3. zerkin
    zerkin on December 8, 2018, 5:54 pm

    I support this resolution, and I hope the Faculty Senate and the university adopt it. But I don’t support cancelling Yiannopoulos’ speech, no matter how vile I may find him.

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