A ‘historic opportunity at hand’ tonight as UC San Diego votes on divestment

by Adam Horowitz on May 5, 2010

Anfal Awwad, Benjamin Balthaser, Oliver Burchill, Amal Dalmar and Aaron Dimsdale write in the UCSD newspaper The Guardian about the UCSD divestment resolution that will be voted on tonight:

We have a historic opportunity to stop our university from contributing to the violation of human rights. This is a controversial issue, as all movements for social justice are.

But let us be clear: The controversy surrounding the Peace and Neutrality Through UC Divestment From U.S. Corporations Profiting From Occupation resolution has not been created by any student group on campus, but by the University of California’s decision to invest in corporations involved in tremendous violations of international law.

Two of these corporations are General Electric and United Technologies. They were mentioned in the resolution for their involvement in well-documented human-rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These are not casual accusations: These corporations have been well-researched, and the fact is that our university has invested $136 million in General Electric and its subsidiaries, which contributes to the manufacturing and delivery of weapons in these occupied territories. Because many students have relatives who live in occupied territories, such investments force them, in effect, to fund the bombs that are dropped on their families. This is not a choice any student should have to make.

Due to the UC system’s involvement, the conflict in Israel and Palestine may be a difficult one to hear about, but it is not a difficult one to understand. The Palestinian people suffer from the longest ongoing illegal military occupation in the world. No matter how you spin it, a military occupation by another power implies the curtailment of civil liberties and the lack of democracy.

And they finish:

Let this resolution become the piece of legislation that defines our generation. Let it be known that UCSD will not go on one more day until the money that is spent toward the oppression of Palestine is not in its hands any longer. We must remember that UC students have a long history of standing up for human rights. When Nelson Mandela was let out of prison, he thanked the UC students for their relentless work in divesting from the apartheid regime in South Africa.

We have a legacy; we have a place in the struggle that we cannot ignore any longer. It is time that the UC students take our rightful place in the fight for human rights. We can no longer sit idly by as our university supports the alienation and the racist treatment of a group of people, no matter who they might be. Yes, it will mean an uncomfortable conversation about things we’d rather not think about — but when has that ever stopped us before?

I'm a teacher, writer, and activist based in Bangalore. I am dedicated to various issues including #BDS and Palestine, living Zero Waste, and reversing the effects of climate change.

Posted in Divestment, Student Organizing, U.S. Academica
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