WSA Passes Resolution 11.35: Wesleyan Divestment from Companies Profiting from or Contributing to Illegal Occupation of Palestine

West-Bank-barrier-007

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.

  • Rebecca Markell ’14

    I wrote another Op-Ed on the issue. It tells a much different side of the story than is described here, so you may want to include a link to it.

    http://www.hasbarafellowships.org/cgblog/498/45/How-Divestment-Fosters-Hate

    • BZOD

      Added a link at the bottom. Thanks for sharing it!

    • stillwanttotraveltopalestine

      The causal links you make in your Op-Ed are a joke:

      -“This was rejected by the supporters of the resolution, demonstrating its inherent ties to BDS.”
      -“Another amendment, urging the university to divest from companies that contribute to terrorist organizations, passed at first, but ultimately failed once sponsors of the resolution threatened to pull out if it was added.”
      -“This blatant refusal to target internationally recognized terrorist organizations demonstrates the real purpose of this resolution: not to help Palestinians or promote human rights, but to unfairly single out Israel.”

      In none of these cases does the effect follow from the cause you claim. Ever heard of correlation not implying causation? Indeed, it is just as plausible that the language targeting a movement (which, I might add, you blatantly misrepresented at the meeting) unmentioned in the body of the resolution as well as the language that invoked terrorist organizations in a manner befitting the Red Scare was simply found to be irrelevant. Regarding the latter proposal (mentioning international terrorist organizations): doesn’t it seem just as, if not more, likely that–given the number of abstentions on an open vote and the resounding defeat on a secret ballot–assembly members felt uncomfortable making the implicit endorsement of terrorism you confronted them with?

      Furthermore, this bit seems somewhat incongruous: “It did not allow student assembly members to make an educated vote based on the facts, but instead fostered an environment of intimidation that eventually led to the necessity of a vote by secret ballot.” If, in a secret vote, they sided overwhelmingly with the sponsors of the resolution, maybe they actually felt intimated by the McCarthyist associations of the Zionists in the room. But again, that’d be a pretty spurious claim to make (correlation still not implying causation).

      Your last paragraph comes out of nowhere, a rhetorical flourish that, again, finds no basis in the piece that precedes it.

      One final note: Israel deserves to be condemned! How many innocent lives has the BDS movement (which you continue to malign) caused to be taken?

      There, we finally have a certainty: zero.

    • letsbereasonable

      Your opinions are racist and your tactics are McCarthyesque, both deserve opposition. sorry.

  • Ugh

    As somebody who only supported the resolution once it no longer included any references to BDS and focused only on the matter of divestment, I really think Wesleying should re-think the stock photo used here…

    • BZOD

      Oops, good call. Changed it.

    • Kelly Lee ’14

      First- the resolution never included any mention of BDS, until an amendment was proposed to condemn it.

      Second- BDS is composed of small-scale, concrete actions by individual bodies such as the WSA or the American Studies Association. If you truly agree with what is stated in this resolution, I’d urge you to reconsider your stance on BDS… the only difference between them is the scale in which they operate.

  • anti-colonialist

    good stuff, wsa. its always restores some faith in humanity when students take an explicit stand against colonialism and racism. KEEP IT UPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!

    • ThisIsPalestine

      These students have no problem with colonialism and racism when its done by Arabs.