Letter to the Editor: Divestment is taking a stand for human rights

by Staff

For the past half century, Israel has continued to violate the human rights of the indigenous Palestinian population. These violations range from discriminatory Jim Crow-like laws to the use of illegal weapons like white phosphorus, raw sewage and depleted uranium on civilian populations.

Using equipment provided to it by corporations like Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and L-3 Communications, Israel builds illegal apartheid walls, imposes military checkpoints and segregates buses, roads, schools and residential areas. The detrimental effect these have on the civilian Palestinian population is widely documented, most notably by a 166-page Human Rights Watch report entitled “Separate and Unequal.”

In its 2008 invasion of Gaza, the Israeli military used A64 Helicopters and F16 jet fighters whose parts were constructed by companies like General Electric, Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin to kill 1,419 people, 82 percent of whom were civilian non-combatants and 20% of whom were children. 3 Israeli civilians were killed in retaliation to this attack by homemade rockets whose parts we as a university are rightly not invested in.

Using weaponized bulldozers made by Caterpillar, the Israeli army has illegally destroyed 27,000 Palestinian homes and continues to do so in order to make room for more illegal Jewish settlements–condemning Palestinians to exile, homelessness or to becoming Internally Displaced Persons in another overcrowded part of the little land left to them.

As a result of these abuses, Palestinian civil society has called upon us as people of conscience to take action by boycotting, divesting from and imposing sanctions on the Israeli state and on corporations that have facilitated its crimes.

A group of San Diego State students have taken heed of this call. The Student Union for Representation and Justice in collaboration with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has drafted a legislative bill that was proposed to Associated Students earlier this semester. The bill asks SDSU to stop investing in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Motorola and General Electric.

The bill went on to be endorsed by many campus groups including the Afrikan Student Union, the Association of Chicana Activists, the Arab Student Association, the Queer Student Union, the Queer People of Color Collective, C.U.R.E. Africa, the Muslim Student Association and the Womyn’s Outreach Association.

Internationally, the SDSU divestment bill was endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace, the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, American Jews for a Just Peace, Justice First Foundation,  the Methodist Federation for Social Action and more than 40 other organizations.

A few weeks ago, the Associated Students’ Student Diversity Commission voted with 11 in favor of divestment, 3 against and 6 abstentions. This has allowed the divestment resolution to move up to the University Council in what will be a historic vote as SDSU becomes the first California State University to vote on this matter. University of California campuses like UC Irvine, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego have already passed a similar bill.

Thirty years ago, SDSU failed to divest from corporations that were complicit in South Africa’s racist apartheid regime while hundreds of other campuses did. Let’s not make the same mistake–let’s stand on the right side of history.



Nadir Bouhmouch

Students for Justice in Palestine