Students Hail Significant Milestone in Push for Divestment

Contact: Josh Schott, jdschott@stanford.edu, (406) 250-9432
Michelle Dallalah, dallalah@stanford.edu, (315) 560-7085

March 5, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Stanford University, CA) – In a powerful show of solidarity, over 75 Stanford students turned
out Tuesday evening to express support for the campaign calling for Stanford University’s Board
of Trustees to divest from a set of companies that violate international law and abuse human
rights in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The students hailed over the two dozen student groups, including the NAACP, Stanford Students
for Queer Liberation, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Stanford Says No
to War, Asian American Student Association, the Stanford Labor Action Coalition, and the
Black Student Union. These were among the 10 student groups that spoke strongly in favor of
divestment at a Senate meeting the previous week.

While the divestment bill put forward by Students for Palestinian Equal Rights did not pass, the
Associated Students of Stanford University Undergraduate Senate passed a separate resolution
expressing its firm stance against investment in companies that cause “substantial social injury.”
It further called on the Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing to review the
University’s investments to ensure compliance with the University’s Statement on Investment
Responsibility.

Inspired by the words of support they received from all corners of the globe, including from
Nobel Peace Laureates Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, Rogers Waters of Pink Floyd,
Alice Walker, Jewish Voice for Peace, and a coalition of 86 Palestinian university elected
student councils and youth organizations, the 1500 individuals, including over 1000 students,
who have signed the Stanford divestment petition will continue to push forward in their efforts to
end Stanford’s complicity in human rights violations in Israel and the Occupied Territories.

In moments like this, we recall the wise words of Nelson Mandela: “there is no easy walk to
freedom anywhere and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death
again and again before we reach the mountaintops of our desires.” While the summit remains
elusive, the climb continues.

Courageous statement of support from the heroic villagers of Bil’in

Since June 2005, the people of Bil’in have struggled against the Israeli occupation, specifically against the construction of the apartheid wall, which cuts through the village, effectively cutting off the villagers from their own land. To show their support, several Bil’iners have recorded a statement encouraging the ASSU to vote Yes on the divestment bill tonight. Please share the video with your friends and allies; the people of Bil’in deserve to have their voices heard!

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.

Thanks.

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.

MLK Scholar Clayborne Carson encourages “strong support” for Divestment

Dear SPER,

I support your effort to encourage Stanford University to divest from all companies that lend support to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and to continued expansion of settlements in that area. Moreover, I urge Stanford students to make clear their strong support for the ongoing nonviolent movement to secure equal human rights for Palestinians living in the West Bank.

You should feel free to use my name on behalf of this important cause.

Best regards,

Clay

Selected in 1985 by the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband, Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson has devoted most his professional life to studying Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under his direction, the King Papers Project has produced six volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of King’s speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. This project is now a component of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute that Carson founded at Stanford University in 2005.

Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu ‘heartily endorses divestment move’

Why I support the call on Stanford University to Divest from the Israeli Occupation

Letter to the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU)

Desmond Tutu*

3 March 2013

Nelson Mandela once said: “We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face. Yet we would be less than human if we did so. It behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.” This is exactly why I see it as my moral obligation to stand up for Palestinian rights and to support Palestinian civil society’s nonviolent efforts to gain freedom, justice and equality.

Struggles for freedom and justice are fraught with huge moral dilemmas. How can we commit ourselves to virtue – before its political triumph – when such commitment may lead to ostracism from our political allies and even our closest partners and friends? Are we willing to speak out for justice when the moral choice that we make for an oppressed community may invite phone calls from the powerful or when possible research funding will be withdrawn from us? When we say “Never again!” do we mean “Never again!”, or do we mean “Never again to us!”?

It is always inspiring when young people inspire the rest of us and lead the way in promoting international law and human rights for all humans. I have supported several U.S. campus campaigns to divest university money from companies that enable and profit from the injustice of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and violation of Palestinian human rights. Principled stands like this, supported by a fast growing number of U.S. civil society organizations and people of conscience, including prominent Jewish groups, are essential for a better world in the making. Based on the same principles, I support the call on Stanford University to divest from companies implicated in Israel’s brutal occupation and human rights violations.

No matter what detractors may allege, students pushing for divestment are doing the right thing. They are doing the moral thing. They are doing that which is incumbent on them as humans who believe that all people have dignity and rights, and that all those being denied their dignity and rights deserve the solidarity of their fellow human beings.

I have visited the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli military checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic of trips to visit relatives or attend school or college, and this humiliation is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and regularly insulted by the security forces of the Apartheid government.

In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom and just peace without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. Students played a leading role in that struggle, and I write these words of encouragement for student divestment efforts cognizant that it was students, including Stanford students, who played a pioneering role in advocating equality in South Africa and promoting corporate ethical and social responsibility to end complicity in Apartheid.

The same issue of equality is what motivates the divestment movement of today, which tries to end Israel’s 45 year long occupation and the unequal treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them. The abuses they face are real, and no person should be offended by principled, morally consistent, non-violent acts to oppose them. It is no more wrong to call out Israel in particular for its abuses than it was to call out the Apartheid regime in South Africa in particular for its abuses.

To those who wrongly allege unfairness or harm done to them by this call for divestment, I suggest, with humility, that the harm suffered from being confronted with opinions that challenge one’s own pales in comparison to the harm done by living a life under occupation and daily denial of basic rights and dignity.

It is not with rancor that we criticize the Israeli government and call for divesting from its human rights violations, but with hope, a hope that a better peaceful future can be made for both Israelis and Palestinians. True peace must be anchored in justice and an unwavering commitment to universal rights for all humans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, national origin or any other identity attribute. These students advocating divestment from Israel’s occupation today are helping to pave that path to a just peace and I heartily endorse their divestment move, encourage them to stand firm on the side of what is right, and urge others to follow their lead.

*Desmond Tutu is an Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner.