PYM - USA Supports Stanford Students in Their Efforts to Divest from Companies Profiting from Violation of Palestinian Rights

Originally circulated 02/08/15

On Tuesday evening, your campus will take a historic vote to decide whether you stand with justice and against occupation. The divestment resolution calls for an end to institutional investments in companies that are profiting from and/or contributing to the Israeli occupation in Palestine and continued dispossession of the Palestinian people. This resolution offers your campus community an opportunity to join countless other civil society actors, unions, and institutions around the world in proactively supporting the Palestinian right to dignity, freedom and self-determination. We, the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), strongly support the divestment resolution brought forth at Stanford University and commend all the student efforts which have brought us to this historic juncture.

Palestinians continue to endure under one of the most brutal military occupations in present day history. The state of Israel, with tremendous military support from the US, as well as support and complicity from many transnational corporations, continues to systematically police, criminalize, and oppress the Palestinian people. In 2005, Palestinian civil society appealed to the international community and all people of conscience to join the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign until Israel complies with international law. The call for BDS is a simple tactic, borne from the grassroots, to end Israel’s decades-long, military occupation of Palestinian land and people. Much like the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, Black South Africans turned to the international community to join them in challenging and dismantling the Apartheid regime by boycotting their racist government and structures. There is no surprise then, that leaders, unions, and civil society in South Africa have been some of the most vocal and spirited supporters of the BDS movement for Palestine. They understand what Apartheid means and they understand the role that the international community must take to end the injustices of such a regime.

Palestinians know too well that our liberation is closely tied to the liberation of all peoples. When the community in Ferguson began demanding justice for Mike Brown and were facing a militarized police force, Palestinians from the occupied territories sent advice on how to deal with police brutality and the use of teargas against the people. In 2010, Palestinians from besieged Gaza donated to Haitians as part of the relief effort following the earthquake. And long before this, Palestinian political prisoners sent letters to Angela Davis when she was being persecuted for her role in the Black Power movement. This solidarity exemplifies that standing on the side of justice, dignity and liberation is both a right and responsibility for all people and not something dictated by identity politics.

Connections between global struggles have been decades in the making, and today, our struggles are more global than ever before. As Palestinian youth in the US, we see the same corporations, such as G4S and Lockheed Martin, providing security, intelligence and weapons technologies to Israel and the US; we see our tax dollars being funnelled into the Israeli military every year while tax dollars are simultaneously disinvested from our public institutions here in the US; we see the systematic policing and censoring of our voice and any voice that challenges the state of Israel and the role of the US in upholding their complete impunity. Just this last week, Sami Al-Arian, a US citizen, was deported from the US for his organizing around the Palestinian cause. He fought for over a decade to overturn outrageous charges that criminalized him for his activism, philanthropy and commitment to the Palestinian cause. Similarly, Rasmea Odeh, an elderly, beloved member of the Palestinian and Arab community, is currently on trial and faces up to ten years in prison and deportation despite having been a naturalized citizen for 20 years.

We are living in dangerous times, where our existence as Palestinians as we know it is being threatened in this country and beyond. And yet, there is hope. People from all faiths and backgrounds are mobilizing in support of BDS and against the racism inherent to Zionism. With this context in mind, we invite the Stanford student community to join a growing movement that understands that, in the words of MLK, “All men [and women] are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

We invite you to join the growing effort to make history, produce transformative change and end your own profit and complicity in the occupation and suffering of another people. Through this vote we can reconceptualize our bonds of solidarity and reconnect our personal, local, national, and global struggles. In this way, we can re-envision a world in which a new generation of leaders can stand together for justice and freedom for all peoples. Your vote tonight will have a tremendous impact in supporting and reaffirming life and freedom for the Palestinian people. We would be honored to see you standing beside us as we reach for justice together.

Respectfully and in solidarity,

The Palestinian Youth Movement -- USA Branch