Dear Associated Students of Stanford University,
We, Palestinian University Student Councils, youth organizations and youth movements, are counting on your support for our struggle for liberty, justice, and human dignity. From launching the divestment campaign against apartheid South Africa 36 years ago that helped spark a global movement for freedom, to developing low-cost baby warmers that save lives, Stanford students have always been at the forefront of innovative and value-based actions that have pushed the human race forward. This comes as no surprise from the students of a University that was founded to “promote public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.”
Members of the ASSU, we urge you to rise to that responsibility by taking a courageous stand in support of the Palestinian people’s human rights, whether under occupation, in exile, or under a cruel siege in Gaza, and all suffering from Israel’s special system of segregation that the famous African-American author Alice Walker likened to the segregation in the southern states of the U.S. 50 years ago.
As university students and democratically elected student councils in Palestine, we share values and aspirations that are similar to yours. Some of us want to conduct scientific research that will help cure diseases that are a blight on mankind; others want to pursue political positions to help improve social institutions; and even others want to become teachers and professors in order to help the minds of the future bloom and reach their potential.
Unlike you, however, we live under an oppressive system of colonial control that has for decades denied us our human rights, including academic freedom, limited our potential, and sought to extinguish our dreams.
We are separated into Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza, denied our legal rights of freedom of movement merely for being born Palestinian, the undesired ‘ethnic group’ for Israel’s expansionist plans for the region. We have endured a daily life of occupation, the construction of racist walls and colonies, tank shellings, checkpoints, curfews, land theft, home demolitions, fatalities, and injuries. Israel continues to arrest university students and professors, and cuts students off from their universities. One of our universities, Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, is partially surrounded by the Apartheid Wall that separates it from many of its students from occupied Jerusalem. It is like having a 20-foot annexation wall that separates the Stanford campus from El Camino Real.
These are crucial times as we the youth in Palestine are seeing glimpses of the kinds of mass international solidarity movement that we are certain will one day bring us to the freedom, justice and equality taken for granted by others but denied to us for so long. Many of us are risking our lives at popular marches throughout Palestine to achieve these goals, but we know that our sacrifices will go in vain if not joined by students from around the world who declare, “we shall no longer be complicit” in Israel’s military occupation and human rights abuses that have lead to so much tragedy and broken dreams for youth and students.
Supporting the divestment bill before you on Tuesday is no radical act, it is simply heeding a moral compass put forward by David Henry Thoreau, an American Icon and philosopher, who said “What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong, which I condemn.” As an age old creed adopted by Stanford Alumni Larry Page and Sergey Brin for Google says: “Do no evil.” Associated Students: Do not allow yourselves and your university to lend itself and its money to the pillage of land, the deprivation of dignity, and the destruction of life in Palestine. Stanford is better than that.
This year it is in your hands at Stanford to see that the tide finally turns across campuses in the United States to ensure that companies are held accountable for continuing to support the violation of Palestinian human rights. President Hennessy of Stanford highlighted during the 2012 commencement that:
“A Stanford education brings a responsibility to make good use of your knowledge, to work to make the world better and to help ensure that succeeding generations have the same kinds of opportunities you have here at Stanford.”
Members of the ASSU, we hope you put the words above into action to make the world better by voting ‘Yes’ on the Bill to divest from companies that profit from human rights abuses. Any other vote will be tantamount to shrinking from the responsibility bestowed upon you, not only as Stanford students, but also as citizens of an increasingly globalized world. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Our hope has been rekindled by divestment efforts at universities around the world. Such campaigns are what is required, the cutting edge of the international struggle for liberty, equality and human rights. And while the walls around us stop us from meeting in person, we and the students we represent will be there at heart. We give you all our solidarity and send you our dearest wishes to do us proud this year.
An-Najah National University Student Council
Birzeit University Student Council
Al-Quds University Student Council
Arab American University Student Council
Hebron University Student Council
Palestine Polytechnic University Student Council
Bethlehem University Student Council
Al-Rawda College Student Council
Al-Aroub College Student Council
Modern University College Student Council
Al-Umma College Student Council
Palestine Technical College Al-Aroub Student Council
Al-Quds Open University Student Councils in the following branches:
- Beit Sahour
- Al-Ezariyyah (Bethany)
Palestinian Student Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel in Gaza (PSCABI)
Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network- Youth Sector-Gaza- (21 Organizations)
Youth Against the Settlements
Palestinians For Dignity
Palestinian Freedom Riders
Palestinian Students Liberation Front
Students Struggle Block
Palestinian Youth Struggle Union
Palestinian Democratic Youth Union
Right to Education Campaign
Fateh Youth Movement – Palestine
- An-Najah National University
- Birzeit University
- Al-Quds University
- Arab American University
- Hebron University
- Palestine Polytechnic University
- Bethlehem University
- Al-Rawda College
- Al-Aroub College
- Modern University College
- Alumma College
- Palestine Technical College Al-Aroub
Student Youth Movement in Al-Quds Open University in the following branches:
- Beit Sahour
- Al-Ezariyyah (Bethany)