A few days ago, on Sunday, May 4, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) passed Resolution 11.35: Wesleyan Divestment from Companies Profiting from or Contributing to Illegal Occupation of Palestine. This resolution has two operative clauses. The first calls upon Wesleyan University to divest from companies that a) provide weapons, security systems, prisons, or military support for the occupation of Palestinian land; b) build or maintain the wall between Israel and Palestine and the demolition of Palestinian homes; and c) help build, maintain, or develop Israeli settlements, outposts, roads, and transportation systems in occupied Palestinian territory (defined in the resolution as the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem). The goal of the resolution is to remove the financial incentive to participate in the occupation of Palestinian land. The resolution’s second clause recognizes that the University will likely not divest from Israeli companies, and thus calls upon the WSA to divest its own endowment from the University’s endowment to avoid supporting the occupation by the transitive property.
This resolution makes Wesleyan’s student assembly one of the first student governments in the country to divest from companies involved in the occupation of Palestinian land. Notably, the resolution does not target Israel itself, instead focusing on the occupation and the companies involved with it with whom Wesleyan invests money from its endowment. Nevertheless, the resolution is influenced by the BDS (Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, which calls for action against Israel until it ends the occupation of Palestinian land and “complies with international law and Palestinian rights.” However, the resolution does not align the WSA explicitly with the movement, as it does not deny Israel’s right to exist, instead focusing only on companies operating in the occupied land.
The contentious issue (the WSA meetings on this issue alone went on for hours) has been picked up my national news outlets – most specifically, Youngist, the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) and Electronic Intifada. The issue has generated a many people, include a spate of recent Wespeaks both for and against the divestment: this, this, this, this, and this.
Wesleying will post more about this as it is implemented.
EDIT 5/7/14, 11:17 AM: Changed the photo to be non-BDS related. Also, Rebecca Markell ’14 posted a different perspective on this matter titled How Divestment Fosters Hate. I won’t excerpt it here because I don’t want to misrepresent her argument by only posting part of it, but read that if you want to know more about opposition to the resolution.