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BREAKING: Columbia University Apartheid Divest Launches University BDS Campaign

Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, student organizations that rally around Palestine activism, are calling for Columbia’s divestment campaign from companies that benefit from or provide funds for the continued presence of Israeli homes, business, and infrastructure in the West Bank. The two organizations are operating as Columbia University Apartheid Divest when working in conjunction on the campaign.

This morning, Bwog received a tip from Columbia University Apartheid Divest with information about its campaign, which is “embedded in the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement directed toward the State of Israel until it complies with international law” by “ending its occupation of Arab lands” and “recognizing the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.”

CU Apartheid Divest also sent us a link to their petition and information about their first event, this Thursday 2/4 at 6pm in Math 417: BDS 101.

CU Apartheid Divest’s press release:

It is against the backdrop of Columbia and Barnard students’ history of moral commitment to social, political, and economic justice that we, as members of Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, come together as Columbia University Apartheid Divest to call for the University to divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from the State of Israel’s ongoing system of settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid law. This campaign is embedded in the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement directed toward the State of Israel until it complies with international law by:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

On June 22nd 2015, the Columbia University Board of Trustees voted to sell its stocks in Corrections Corporation of America and G4S, making Columbia the first academic institution in the United States to divest from the private prison industry. This victory, achieved through the tireless work of Columbia Prison Divest, inspired in student organizers a renewed dedication to hold the Columbia administration accountable for maintaining global systems of oppression.

This was not, however, the first of such movements. On October 7th 1985, under the pressure of student activists, the Board of Trustees voted to sell $41 million of its endowment investments in American companies with ties to South Africa. In doing so, Columbia became the first Ivy League university to divest from Apartheid South Africa.

Thanks to the efforts of our allies at Columbia Prison Divest, Columbia has already divested from G4S, a private prison corporation that profits from the incarceration of Palestinian political prisoners, 470 of whom are child prisoners, equips military checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall with security technologies, and enables the expansion of illegal settlements by providing security technology. We must continue the hard work of divesting from corporations that fuel and maintain the State of Israel’s continued human rights abuses. As Columbia University Apartheid Divest, we call upon the University to divest its endowment from the following corporations that profit from Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights: Caterpillar, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Elbit Systems, Mekorot, Hapoalim, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.

By investing in such companies, Columbia actively supports Israel’s continued occupation of and assaults against the Palestinian people, including the most recent military operation on the Gaza Strip which claimed over 2,104 Palestinian lives, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 women, according to the UN. The Israeli Defense Forces use technologies such as F-16 fighter jets, GBU-9 small diameter bombs, and Apache helicopters produced by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. These companies directly profit from the ceaseless military violence faced by Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights.

Columbia students are implicated through the University’s investments in these same companies. The movements to divest from the prison industrial complex and Apartheid South Africa have shown us that divestment at Columbia is an effective way of ending our institutional complicity in global systems of oppression. In both movements, it was a coalition of activists on campus that courageously spoke truth to power and challenged our institution to maintain its principles of human dignity. Columbia University Apartheid Divest is inspired by this legacy.

We demand that Columbia University end its investments in Israeli Apartheid.

We call upon the Columbia community to support Palestinian human rights.

We stand united for justice.

Sign our petition today and come to the first ever Apartheid Divest event this Thursday 2/4 at 6pm in Math 417: BDS 101. Check our website for more information.

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  • Thank god for this says:

    @Thank god for this or we wouldnt have any bwog comments to read

  • Pepito says:

    @Pepito You wrote:
    “And a continuation of the status quo of militarism, occupation, and institutionalized discrimination since 1948 has led to persistent violence that harms Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike (though, if you look at the numbers, Palestinians have suffered far more)”.

    Please read the history of the region. Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank were under Arab sovereignty from 1948 until 1967. So, Israel had nothing to do with it and no plans of creating a Palestinian State were in their minds. Same as today, they do not want a Palestinian State but the destruction of Israel. Furthermore, the Arab country don’t even care about the Palestinians, since they do not have rights while living in the Arab world.

  • Edward Devotion says:

    @Edward Devotion CUAD is a front for hate mongering.

    Just because a group uses “justice” or “peace” in its name does not make them for either ideal.

    When will people who say they care about human rights see through the charade?

    Or at least be honest about intentions.

  • History says:

    @History This happened before:

    To quote the relevant section:
    On November 7, Columbia President Lee Bollinger and Barnard President Judith Shapiro publicly denounced the divestment movement.
    “I want to state clearly that I will not lend any support to this proposal. The petition alleges human rights abuses and compares Israel to South Africa at the time of apartheid, an analogy I believe is both grotesque and offensive”

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous It is interesting to note that the posters for their campaign have a picture of Israel + Gaza+ West bank without any borders. If they only want to help “the West Bank and Gaza”, then why put on the poster Israel proper too? Ahhh, unless you consider that the creation of Israel in 1948 is the problem (which we all know you do, SJP, just take responsibility for it instead of hypocritically putting out a picture on a poster that doesn’t match your speech).

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous If you want to make a real difference, #UnSubTheFineBros #UnsubFineBros

  • nonpolitical first gen srry dont hate me says:

    @nonpolitical first gen srry dont hate me lol tbh i didnt know Palestine existed until college, im kind of looking forward to this campaign creating a dialogue about global events. especially since the climate justice and prison divest campaigns were just like, obviously agreed with by most of campus

    1. Columbian says:

      @Columbian This is Columbia, where any form of rational political discourse is “respectability politics.”

      1. discourse says:

        @discourse and any viewpoints that are not liberal are not tolerated

  • April Tide says:

    @April Tide Of course Israel should support an independent state, the people there have free elections, their leadership are just the kind of people you want living next door, and the world needs another Syria, or Lebanon, or Hamas / IS State.

    Maybe focus on Nigeria, 86 kids were burned alive today. Oh wait, there are no Jews there.

  • matriarchy says:

    @matriarchy Boycott?! More like girlcott!!! Amirite ladies?!

  • CC'86 says:

    @CC'86 Ignoring the moral corruption behind this effort, the “boycott list” has many curious absences, most notably Intel – a company which designs many/most of their microprocessors in Israel. Given that most computers/servers use Intel chipsets, shouldn’t the purported boycotters immediately lift their fingers from their keyboards? If they were true to their principles they would indeed, and it’d be a win-win for the rest of us, as we’d then be free of exposure to their veiled hatred & inconsistent/misdirected morals.

  • CU '17 says:

    @CU '17 But can they divest from the ’95-’96 Bulls?

  • Whenever this topic comes up says:

    @Whenever this topic comes up I am reminded of our student body’s deep commitment to open dialogue and nuanced analysis.

  • Concerned says:

    @Concerned I move to boycott Cutco.
    Cutco continues to profit from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supplying knives to Palestinians stabbing mothers to death in front of their children.

  • just wondering... says:

    @just wondering... …how is discriminating against Jews an example of Columbia’s “moral commitment to social, political, and economic justice”?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous yeah. when are we going to boycott, divest, and sanction Morocco for occupying Western Sahara? Or Turkey for limiting Kurdish self-determination? Or China for all the shit they do to Tibet?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Israel must stop building on Arab territory and allow Arabs to own land and vote.

    1. Anon says:

      @Anon Says a person who has a degree in Conflict Resolution? Cuz if not, you’re really not qualified to judge.

      1. HOLD UP says:

        @HOLD UP Is there a team of Zionists sitting somewhere rn who’s job it is to downvote everything that is even slightly critical of Israel and upvote everything that is reactionary? Because the comment ur repsonding to is saying “stop settling on other people’s land” and you’re response is “woah woah what are you saying.” The votes that ensue from those statements do not follow logic.

    2. oh boy says:

      @oh boy define “arab territory”. last i checked, israel won the lands in a defensive war fair and square.

      1. Columbian says:

        @Columbian How do you win land in a defensive war?

        1. ta shma says:

          @ta shma according to the rules of war it’s considered to be a defensive war because the country was attacked first (closing of the straights of tiran by egypt). whether you end up winning the war or not does not determine this (especially since if israel lost then it would have been destroyed).

    3. just to clarify says:

      @just to clarify israeli arabs DO own land and vote. and palestinians vote too, for the government of the palestinian authority, not for israel, in much the same way that i vote for the government of the united states and not, say, canada, even though the two countries are adjacent.

      and once the palestinians finally accept a peace deal (like the one ehud olmert offered in which he offered 100% of the west bank–accounting for land swaps–plus gaza, plus east jerusalem, plus relinquished israeli control over the old city of jerusalem), palestinians will own all that land.

    4. confused says:

      @confused How is ‘allow people to own land and vote’ being down voted? Disappointed in my peers…

      1. ta shma says:

        @ta shma it’s not wise to paint your peers as against people owning land. the issue is that the palestinian leadership was offered the ability to have their own state and land and refused it out of the maximalist view that they would be able to conquer the entire land.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous BDS is the only effective way to stop the steady stream of money from the pockets of the middle class to the cabals of the Jewish elite

    1. henry ford says:

      @henry ford why the down votes? he has a point!

      1. Lol says:

        @Lol “Henry Ford”

  • Jules says:

    @Jules Oh hey, Israel Apartheid week has come earlier than expected this year ! Bring out the hummus and narguilah to celebrate.

    Really though, gotta love when undergrads think they can actually solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • cat says:

    @cat Caterpillar is one of the most generous corporations in America. They are well known for their donations through the Caterpillar Foundation and their volunteering efforts. They support important causes including environmental and educational groups. But I guess they crossed a line by helping out the Jews.

  • Heisenberg says:

    @Heisenberg Does this mean the comment section on bwog might get decent again?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous no certainty yet.

  • Wow says:

    @Wow “Syrian Golan heights”? Campus Arabs now are caring about the Syrian regime’s welfare? How interesting!

    1. Columbian says:

      @Columbian Since when is the territorial integrity of one nation simply a matter of its state? We protected Kuwait from Iraq in 92 even though it had a misogonistic monarch.

      1. ta shma says:

        @ta shma because arab middle eastern states are artificial creations by western powers and their borders largely don’t exist anymore? not to mention syria technically has no claim to the land since they attacked israel in 1967 and lost their land in this war.

  • Ugh says:

    @Ugh Let’s just burn all of the money and be done with this stuff. I don’t think I can take another one of these campaigns

  • Lol says:

    @Lol i love casual anti Semitism cloaked as liberal causes

    1. anonymous says:

      @anonymous fears of antisemitism and global jewish persecution are nothing if not justified in the wake of, well, pretty much all of jewish history. and there is definitely a need on the Left to talk about this more, weed out the antisemitic strains of Palestinian solidarity movements, and acknowledge explicitly in their activism that antisemitism is still a problem on a global scale.

      however, I have to ask if you 1. read the demands and 2. read the list of companies that JVP and SJP are specifically asking for divestment from. All the demands are for is equal rights (which should be a given in any democracy), ending military occupation, and allowing the displaced Palestinian diaspora to return to their homeland (a policy which, if anybody’s about to attack its feasibility, is literally what Israel has had in place for the global Jewish diaspora since its inception).

      The companies that they’re asking for divestment from are literally defense companies, the people who manufacture the weapons, bulldozers, and defense systems that allow the Israeli occupation to continue and who actually directly profit from the occupation because of it (meaning that they stand as a barrier to peace and decolonization even if the political tide among Israelis changes)– and honestly is it controversial to say that nobody should be making a profit from war and child imprisonment?

      Israel/Palestine is a socially and historically complicated issue– the fact that Israel is a country of holocaust survivors and refugees of global antisemitism doesn’t change the fact that the state of Israel and its military (and military-industrial complex) have brought incredible suffering to the Palestinian people. And a continuation of the status quo of militarism, occupation, and institutionalized discrimination since 1948 has led to persistent violence that harms Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike (though, if you look at the numbers, Palestinians have suffered far more).

      This outlines a non-violent way of challenging the status quo and moving towards peace and equality in a way that could actually work, based on the history of divestment movements– rather than platitudes about how everybody is affected by violence and how we’re all human or something, this campaign attacks the material roots of this violence by attacking 1. the economic structure that stands to profit from this violence and 2. the political structures and policies that perpetuate it.

      and there’s a lot of reasons to be in favor of that that are not hating Jews or Holocaust denial.

      1. Lol says:

        @Lol I have read the demands. The Israelis offered the Palestinians over 90% of their demands on multiple occasions which were ignored and in the early 2000’s led to the suicide bomb campaign by Fatah and Hamas. The Palestinian leadership literally had the chance to get a state and help their people and refused it. They obviously don’t have the ability to help their own interests, so maybe pressure should be placed on the Palestinian Authority to negotiate seriously? Also, claiming that the land won in 67 is Arab land is not true considering it was won in a defensive war. Most Palestinian refugees would not be considered refugees by the UN if it wasn’t for Arab lobbying to create a new category for them, so the Arab countries wouldn’t have to take responsibility for them. Palestinians have a right to return to a state of their own, which their leadership has refused (and today their leadership incites and promotes anti-Semitism). All I see is the Arab world shirking responsibility for the issues they created and placing all the blame on the Jews. Why is that Israel’s fault?

      2. Lol says:

        @Lol also do yourself a favor and look up all the anti-Semitic comments made by the leaders of BDS which shows their lack of interest in an actual peaceful outcome.

  • Columbian says:

    @Columbian This will be a shitshow.

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