Anti-Israel Divestment Campaigns Kick Off on Campuses Across the US
Student groups across the US are renewing their efforts to pass anti-Israel divestment resolutions.
Following a defeat two years ago, a coalition of student groups at Ohio State University (OSU) — under the auspices of “OSU Divest: Buckeyes for Human Rights” — is seeking to put the issue to a vote in the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) in the spring.
The OSU Divest measure calls on the student government to “cease and/or prohibit any investments in G4S, Caterpillar, CoreCivic, The GEO Group and Hewlett Packard Enterprise until they are no longer engaged in the violation of human rights [of Palestinians] and other practices deemed unethical by the Buckeye community.”
The group is currently attempting to gather the 1,895 signatures needed from the student body to secure the measure on the USG ballot, the campus newspaper The Lantern reported.
At the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, groups such as the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), are pushing to place an anti-Israel bill on the Student Government (SG) ballot next month. The measure demands that the USF Foundation divest from “companies complicit in human rights violations in Palestine and Yemen.”
According to campus newspaper The Oracle, a similar divestment measure that only singled out Israel for condemnation was shot down last spring by the SG Supreme Court after it was deemed unconstitutional. A proposal of the same nature also failed in 2013. A university spokesman told The Oracle that even if the upcoming measure reaches the ballot, it is non-binding.
At the University of Michigan-Dearborn (UMD), groups such as the campus chapters of SJP, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Arab Student Union launched a petition against “investments in entities complicit in human rights violations by the state of Israel.”
UMD SJP wrote on Facebook:
Under Israeli occupation, Palestinians and Israeli settlers are separate and unequal. Palestinians are denied their fundamental rights under Israeli martial law, and are being forced out of their homes to make way for Israeli-only settlements. Michigan invests in companies complicit in this. It’s time to divest. This year or the next, in one year or 10, we will divest.
At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), 15 student organizations launched a campaign to pressure the school’s Board of Trustees to divest from companies “that support the marginalization of Palestinians.” In a video posted to social media of an event kicking off the BDS campaign, a sponsor of the initiative is seen describing Zionists as “murderers,” accusing Israel of “genocide” and mocking Jews’ claims to Israel as “their birthright” as being “built on empty religious rhetoric.”
Students at Georgetown University, as reported by The Algemeiner, are refusing to stand down from their demand that school officials first disclose and then halt investments in companies that contribute to the “illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
Coalition group “Georgetown University Forming a Radically Ethical Endowment Coalition (GU F.R.E.E.)” — endorsed by 17 student organizations — named nine companies that are “knowingly and consistently” complicit in Israeli “human rights violations” against “indigenous” Palestinians, such as “collective punishment,” “forcible displacement” and “occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.”
The recent push for anti-Israel student government referendums coincides with the start of Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual BDS event held on college campuses around the world in February and March.