Jewish Voice for Peace urges Senate to Vote for Divestment and “be on the right side of history”

March 4, 2013

To the attention of the Stanford University ASSU Undergraduate Senate,

We are writing to you from Jewish Voice to Peace to urge you to pass the Undergraduate Senate Resolution calling on the Stanford University Board of Trustees to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation and related human rights violations against Palestinians.

We believe that the resolution in front of you follows our core Jewish ethical values, shared with all cultures that make part of the human family. The Torah instructs us “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, one of the first ten women rabbis in this country and a member of JVP’s Rabbinical Council, explains further,

Home demolition to steal land is unethical. What would you do to stop your house from being demolished? If you’re among tens of thousands of Palestinians, you can put your body in front of the Caterpillar bulldozer. You and your children will be beaten, arrested and then Israel will force you to pay for destruction of your own home. The Talmud teaches, “You shall not derive profit nor benefit from products used to promote violence. You shall not buy them, nor sell them.”

Liza Behrendt, a member of Young, Jewish, and Proud—the youth wing of JVP—adds,

I recently joined Christians, Muslims, and fellow Jews in Jerusalem to rebuild a Palestinian family’s home destroyed by Caterpillar bulldozers. As we labored side by side, learning the Arabic words for “brick” and “mortar”, we knew the military could demolish our hard work at any moment. As an act of population control, Israel systematically targets Palestinian schools, hospitals, churches, businesses, and playgrounds, including billions worth of infrastructure built through European investments. Palestinians are asking us for divestment. Join Jews like me in our movement for freedom and justice. Thank you.

These are just two of the many Jewish voices asking you to follow your conscience and vote for divestment. While both quotes address one company—Caterpillar—the same logic applies to other companies profiting from human rights violations committed against Palestinians.

We call on you to support divestment as a nonviolent response to the daily violence of the Israeli occupation.

You may be hearing from others suggesting that divestment may be divisive or may hurt the feelings of some students on campus.

We believe that many matters of social justice start by being divisive, but eventually end up unifying people around common principles of freedom, justice, and equality. Slavery in this country was divisive; it nearly tore our country apart. The right of women to vote was divisive too; it took decades of controversy to pass the XIX amendment to the US Constitution. In fact the last vote before the amendment was ratified was in Tennessee passed with a single vote margin. These and other issues that seemed controversial in their time seem morally and ethically clear to us today.

Your task is by far less daunting, but no less important. We call on you to join us and be on the right side of history.


Sydney Levy
Advocacy Director
Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots peace organization, inspired by Jewish tradition to promoting a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East based on equality, human rights and respect for international law. JVP has offices in NY and CA, over 125,000 supporters, 35 chapters, a Rabbi’s Council, a youth wing, and an Advisory Board that includes Judith Butler, Tony Kushner, Ed Asner, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Eve Ensler and others.