We, as Students for Justice in Palestine, are a diverse collective of UCSB students who strive to form unity, solidarity, and empowerment across differences of race, gender, sexuality, class, culture, and history. Together, we have created a community committed to educating ourselves and raising awareness on campus about the history of Israel/Palestine and about the transnational corporations that currently aid Israel in their institutional policies of occupation, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and ethno-racial supremacy towards Palestine. We believe that the Palestinian people, like all people, are entitled to human rights.
In line with this mission, and in recognizing our immense privilege as students on a university campus, we aim to not only educate our fellow peers about the consequences of Israel’s policies of occupation and apartheid, but also answer the Palestinian Civil Society’s global call for a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Therefore, we call on the Associated Students (AS) of UC Santa Barbara to pass a resolution directing the University of California to financially divest from the corporations that directly profit from human rights violations in Palestine/Israel. Currently, UCSB has financial holdings in Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar, and Hewlett Packard. These are all corporations that directly participate and profit from Israeli apartheid policies such as: segregated bus lines and roads, continuation of illegal settlement building, excessive and disproportionate deadly force used against Palestinian civilians, checkpoints and roadblocks, unlawful imprisonment, home demolitions, housing discrimination, voting disenfranchisement, economic blockades, and destruction of infrastructure.
Our advocacy for Palestinian self-determination and critique of Israel’s apartheid regime is not one-dimensional, nor is it an anti-Semitic attempt to single out Israel. Rather, this resolution solely targets UC financial investments in corporations that enable apartheid and other violations of international law towards the Palestinian people; it is about unethical corporations, not any particular community or individual persons.
Further, we believe our advocacy for Palestinian liberation is interconnected to all injustices based on race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship, and other markers of difference. At the heart of SJP is a passion to engage and develop an approach to coalition building and solidarity activism that is animated by the spirit of de-colonial, anti-racist, and other global liberationist movements. As a collective, we stand against all forms of systemic, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized forms of oppression and express solidarity with all groups and communities fighting such diverse forms of injustice and violence. Now more than ever, we see how the struggle for self-determination and liberation for the Palestinian people is connected to the struggle for self-determination and liberation for people all over the world: from Ferguson to Ayotzinapa to Palestine, from the indigenous on this land to the indigenous Palestinians. This is not a single issue or single people struggle.
It is vital to remember that students at the University of California have historically been at the forefront of social justice movements: from the civil rights movements to the BDS movement against South African apartheid, and from the modern LGBTQ liberation movement to the contemporary anti-racist movements, such as Black Lives Matter. In all these social justice movements and more, student power has been an integral part of progress and change. As young people at a top-tier research institution, it is our duty to combat racism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, imperialism, colonization, and global inequality. A resolution to “Divest From Companies that Profit From Human Rights Violations in Palestine/Israel” is in no way intended to alienate students on campus; rather, it is intended to create a critical dialogue about state-sanctioned violence that violates human rights and international law, ultimately bringing together students across communities over a connected struggle.
SJP at UCSB does not align itself with any particular faction of government in Palestine, nor do we take a stance on any particular solution. We advocate for the right of return, self-determination, freedom of movement, justice, voting enfranchisement, and equality for all Palestinians. We stand in solidarity with all communities living under occupation inside and outside the United States. Furthermore, as student activists who stand against all forms of institutionalized oppressions, we denounce all forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and we insist that this call for divestment should not be conflated with these forms of hate. Instead this call for divestment should be understood as a call for the University of California and the UC regents to take financial holdings out of corporations that perpetuate violations against humanity.
We urge our campus community and our AS to discuss, engage, and understand this issue and choose to finally be on the right side of history. It is time to resist, time to educate, and time to divest!