UCSD Needs to Divest to Uphold Basic Human Rights and Help End Apartheid in Israel and Palestine

    People with intimate knowledge of that oppressive system have deemed Israel an apartheid state. South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is a man who can credibly make the comparison. And he does: “Israel becoming an apartheid state or like South Africa in its denial of equal rights is not a future danger, as three former Israeli prime ministers — Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and David Ben-Gurion — have warned, but a present-day reality.”

    Just as divestment was a tool that played a part in pressuring the apartheid government there, divestment can play a role in ending apartheid in Israel/Palestine. Divestment is a well-known nonviolent tool of resistance to destructive corporate practices that has historically been widely utilized by students such as with the current campaigns on university campuses to divest from fossil fuels.

    There are those who say this bill is divisive. All political issues are divisive. But already, UCSD is taking a side on this issue by having money invested in companies that are integral to maintaining the Israeli occupation. That is divisive. Our university, through its investment portfolio, has taken a position that is diametrically opposed to the human rights of Palestinians. Divesting would put UCSD on the side of human rights — and in solidarity with Palestinians and their allies, who have called for boycotting, divesting and sanctioning a country that has maintained a decades-old military occupation with no end in sight. Those allies also include a growing number of American and Israeli Jews who recognize the injustice of the status quo.

    Opponents claim that targeting companies with financial and research ties to UCSD will harm job projects for engineering students. Similar arguments were made to do nothing against apartheid South Africa and even in regard to ending Jim Crow discrimination in the American South. But human rights matter. The message we send with divestment is far more powerful than the miniscule possibility an engineering student will lose a job because of our conscientious efforts here.

    The tide is turning for the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. People are becoming more conscious, and it is clear that Israel’s policies are not sustainable. History has proven that walls fall, dictatorships end and oppressive regimes come crumbling down by the power of ordinary activists worldwide. It is time to take a stand for human rights. It is time to make history.

    — Students for Justice in Palestine Officers 2012-2013

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