Will our own WSA follow suit?
Last week, the student government of UC Irvine (the equivalent of Weslayan’s WSA) unanimously passed a resolution supporting divestment from all companies that support the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. The move came amidst the ongoing U.S.-backed bombardment of civilians in the Gaza Strip. According to news reports, the attacks have claimed the lives 95 Palestinians in the past week, including at least twelve children and a pregnant mother.
The UC Irvine resolution (which is fairly short; I encourage folks to read in full) is part of a growing international solidarity movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS for short) which seeks to withdraw support and legitimacy from the Israeli occupation, much like the divestment campaign that eventually led to the downfall of the apartheid government in South Africa in the 1990s, of which college campuses and the student movement were an integral part.
Similar resolutions have been passed or proposed on campuses across the U.S., and the campaign was even discussed at Wes during Thursday’s panel with leading independent Israeli journalists. Progressive blogger Noam Sheizaf threw in his support:
I have long committed myself to supporting non-violent resistance by Palestinians against the occupation, and there is no denying that BDS falls under that category.
Campaigns for divestment from oppressive, far-off, apartheid states are nothing new to this campus. Wesleyan students played an especially large role in apartheid protests in the late ’80s and early ’90s, pressuring the University to divest from companies that dealt with South Africa’s apartheid regime,
culminating in the 1990 firebombing of South College. The Chace administration complied with complete divestiture in 1990. (Edit by Zach: Though loosely tied to a number of radical political causes, including racial tension at Wesleyan in the spring of 1990, the firebombing was never directly linked to divestment movements; it should not be grouped in with peaceful anti-apartheid protests on campus like this one.)
More recently, the now defunct group Awareness, Dialogue and Action for Palestine/Israel Today (ADAPT) initiated a divestment campaign in 2009. Their investigation uncovered five companies in which the University invests which directly profit from Israeli occupation—including weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, which supply the IDF with weapons that have been used in attacks on civilians. The University has consistently resisted ongoing student campaigns for endowment transparency, keeping the public in the dark about where it invests its money; the true number of companies could be much higher.
Our own illustrious WSA has an endowment of its own, similar to the student government at UC Irvine; unlike the University’s investments, these are public. Will they, too, adopt a resolution supporting divestment? Should the University follow suit? Some members of Wesleyan’s chapter of Students in Justice for Palestine have already expressed support for such a move.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments section.