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.
There are new developments from the ongoing controversy around President Roth’s denunciation of the American Studies Association’s recent resolution supporting the academic boycott of Israeli universities. Alums began circulating a still-growing petition earlier this month expressing support for the ASA decision and criticizing Roth for poor argument and hypocrisy.
Current Wes students, it seems, have followed suit. A separate petition has been making the rounds on email and social media in recent days and has already garnered over fifty signatures. Echoing the alumni declarations of support for the ASA’s boycott, the document also calls on the WSA to divest its own holdings from “companies that directly profit from or materially contribute to the illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories”.
If such a resolution is adopted, Wesleyan will be following a long and growing line of universities who have endorsed the BDS movement. Read the full text of the petition after the jump or sign here:
From Jacob Seltzer ’17:
Curious about the meaning of Israel Apartheid Week? Want to be a part of a productive open discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Come to the second coffee talk hosted by J Street U. Coffee and Doughnuts will be served.
Date: Wednesday, February 26
Time: 8:30 – 9:30 PM
Place: PAC 104
In case you missed it, Wesleyan’s own Great Helmsman, Michael Roth, was all over the headlines during winter break for his crushing denunciation of the American Studies Association (ASA) and their decision to join the global academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions. The controversial op-ed ran in several major papers, including the Hartford Courant and the LA Times, drawing mixed reactions. Alums have responded with a petition, calling Roth out on his participation in anti-apartheid organizing at Wes in the 1970’s and critiquing his position. Roth has called the ASA resolution (it’s short, I encourage folks to read it for themselves) a “repugnant attack on academic freedom.” The ASA says their resolution is an act of scholarly solidarity with longstanding calls from Palestinian civil society for a boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against the Israeli state and the apparatus of occupation.
Roth’s basic argument is that the resolution restricts the “academic freedom” of scholars inside Israel and unfairly singles out the country. His critics have said that such restrictions are exactly what the resolution seeks to address, pointing out that the resolution in fact stresses greater dialogue with Israeli academics, albeit free of their official institutional affiliations.
Over the past few weeks, it has been difficult to see a newspaper, blog or journal without reading an opinion about the recent vote by the American Studies Association (ASA) to boycott Israeli universities. The ASA boycott incorporates “formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions” and “scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions.”I think the boycott is misguided and wrong. Boycotting all Israeli universities is a grave assault on academic freedom and does little to achieve peace.
I am glad to see that President Roth condemned the boycott. Roth argued that the boycott lacked consistency. That is, why boycott Israel while ignoring North Korea, Russia or China? This argument has merit and proves a double standard on the part of the ASA. However, many opinions have used this argument to show that the boycott has its foundations in anti-Semitism. The President of the ASA did not help his case when stating that, “One has to start somewhere” when explaining the decision to boycott Israel. However, there is no reason to believe that the ASA had its motives rooted in anti-Jewish sentiment.
To understand the morality of the boycott, I think it is important to explore the purpose of a university. Universities, like many institutions, are concerned with professional, not political, performance. While the ASA will not be boycotting specific Israeli professors based on their citizenship, they will not allow them to participate in academic forums if they are sponsored by an Israeli institution. However, if an Israeli institution condemns the occupation, they are exempt from the boycott. I personally do think that Israeli universities should take a stance in opposition to the occupation, but I think it is wrong to boycott universities based on their views. To explain this reasoning I would like to propose a thought experiment. University X is a progressive, liberal institution. However, Professor Y, who is eligible for tenure, is an outspoken critic of many of the university’s policies. It would be wrong of the board of trustees to deny this professor tenure because he does not conform to the university’s beliefs. Non-conforming ideas lead to progress. A university has the right to define its own beliefs, however misguided they may be.
Justine ‘Juniper’ Mitchell ’15 invites you to confront settler colonialism and get down tomorrow afternoon:
Eran and Maya, two Jewish Israeli citizens from Anarchists Against the Wall and Boycott from Within will be at Wesleyan this Tuesday to discuss their direct action tactics and activism in in the West Bank as well as their efforts to educate the Israeli public about the occupation.
Growing up in Jerusalem, both Eran and Maya became critical of the occupation and injustices against Palestinian people. After serving in the IDF Eran joined Breaking the Silence and published testimonies from IDF soldiers. His investigative reports have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian.
Maya on the other hand refused to serve in the IDF and was thus sentenced to military prison and detention. After her release she co-led the feminist alternative education program New Profile, guided political tours in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and worked with Rabbis for Human Rights.
Check out their website here.
- Date: TOMORROW, Tuesday, November 5
- Time: 5:00pm
- Place: PAC 002
- Facebook: event
Post submitted by Emily Greenspan ’16:
Come join J Street U at Wesleyan for a talk with Avner Gvaryahu, a
representative from Breaking the Silence, for a presentation about
what the organization does and the reality of life under Israeli
occupation. Discussion will follow.
Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have
served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada
and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the
reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They endeavor to
stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which
young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are
engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life.
Read more about Breaking the Silence on the interwebz:
Date: Sunday, October 13
Time: 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Location: PAC 001
Cost: Free, but if you’d like to support Breaking the Silence, small contributions will be welcome
Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like? Yes, someone has. It’s Samantha Sikder ’14, actually!
Come join your peers and alum Dan Fischer ’11 in discussing their experiences in Palestine this past year. Learn more about the conflict from students’ personal stories.
Featuring Dan Fischer ’11, Natasha Phillips ’14, Carina Kurban ’14, Danny Blinderman ’14 and Samantha Sikder ’14.
Monday, May 6
Click through the jump for more information on the panelists.
From Samantha Sikder ’14:
Have thoughts, opinons and writings on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Hummus is a new literary e-zine which attempts to explore the conflict from a human perspective. Be a part of a new and creative approach to fostering dialogue on campus. Send your poems, thoughts, inquiries, reflections, essays about the conflict to hummus(at)wesleyan(dot)edu by Friday, March 22nd.
Deadline: Friday, March 22
“You SJB? WeSJP!” chants Greg Shaheen ’13, from the front lines of a march through Bil’in:
Wesleyan Students for Justice in Palestine (WeSJP) is a group of students and faculty committed to giving a voice to the Palestinian narrative.
Join us for the first WeSJP meeting of the semester.
This Thursday at 5pm Usdan couches—look for the kids in keffiyehs.
Date: Today, February 21st
Place: Usdan black couches
Not to be confused with: This