We posted last week about a Students for Justice in Palestine petition that called on the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) to divest from companies that profit from or contribute to the occupation of Palestinian territories. Since then, there’s been a petition circulating by J Street U urging the WSA not to divest in order to facilitate the current round of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. You can read this petition below and sign here if interested:
Recently, a petition has circulated among students and alumni calling on the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) to divest its endowment from Israel as a response to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While the undersigned agree with the urgent need to resolve the conflict and end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, we believe that a boycott of Israel is at best ineffective, and likely a counter-productive response to this conflict.
In addition to advocating for a boycott of Israeli goods and services, the petition endorses the recent American Studies Association (ASA) boycott of Israeli universities. We believe that impeding the free exchange of ideas harms the ability of all sides to learn from, understand, and ultimately reconcile with the other. Conflict resolution requires the humanization of the other, and a blanket ban of Israeli goods, speech, and ideas—to the extent that it makes it more difficult for Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans to form relationships and build trust—impedes this process. We oppose all restrictions on the right of both Israeli and Palestinian scholars to travel, research, and speak freely.
We too are deeply concerned with the gross violations of human rights and democratic principles perpetuated by the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. We do not, however, see the boycott petition as addressing the conflict in a productive way. Our point of divergence is not the need to end the occupation, but rather that we believe engagement and negotiations represent a faster, more just means to resolve the conflict.
In July 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The stated goal of these negotiations is the resolution of the conflict between the two sides via a two-state solution that ensures a peaceful, secure state of Israel and a viable, prosperous state of Palestine. Sensing the urgency of a conflict that has gone on far too long, Secretary Kerry outlined a nine-month timeline for the negotiations, which have now reached a critical stage. Now is the moment when both sides will be called upon to make the difficult decisions necessary to end the conflict. At a time when diplomacy is potentially on the precipice of delivering real relief to the victims of this conflict, we believe that supporting initiatives that call for the severing of cooperation and the suppression of discourse detract from efforts to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
In order to ensure a stable and just future, mutual agreement will have to be reached by the governing institutions of both sides.The government of Israel, the leadership of the Palestinian Authority including President Mahmoud Abbas, and the American government have all endorsed the two-state solution and spoken out against various aspects of the BDS movement. According to a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research, 63% of Israelis and 53% of Palestinians support a two-state agreement. We believe that support for Secretary Kerry’s negotiations honors both the democratic wishes of Israelis and Palestinians and represents crucial support for the most viable policy solution currently available.
Therefore We, the undersigned, firmly support the current round of negotiations as a vehicle to reach a two-state solution ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and call upon the WSA to reject efforts to boycott the internationally recognized state of Israel to facilitate that end. We support a two-state solution that:
· Bases borders on pre-1967 lines with agreed-upon land swaps and provides robust security guarantees.
· Evacuates settlements outside Israel’s future borders while compensating the estimated one in five settlers who relocate to make peace possible.
· Establishes the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestinian neighborhoods as the capital of the future state of Palestine. Holy sites would be internationally protected and accessible to all.
· Resolves the Palestinian refugee issue through resettlement in the future Palestine or third countries, compensation and a limited level of family reunification in Israel itself.
Students, Faculty and Community members of Wesleyan
Wesleying note: Expect a featured post giving more context to these two petitions and the groups on campus that are involved with justice in the Israel-Palestine conflict.