What is UofC Divest?
UofC Divest is a grassroots coalition of students calling upon the University of Chicago to divest from corporations presently complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestine and the violence inflicted upon its indigenous inhabitants. This campaign is a direct response to the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) movement, initiated by Palestinian civil society in 2005 in order to pressure the state of Israel to comply with international law.
Divestment is a non-violent, legal tactic to end the occupation, one that is called for by Palestinians themselves, and its justification is rooted in the preservation of human rights and compliance with international law. As Americans, answering the call to divest from these corporations is a commitment to ending our complicity in global injustice and human rights violations. This is a movement with core principles that stretch far beyond the occupation and Israeli apartheid, including taking a stand against every form of racial oppression. The University of Chicago has failed time and time again to stand on the right side of history, and UofC Divest is committed to changing the tide in favor of preserving human rights and the values of this institution.
Divestment has also been shown to be a highly successful tactic. It was a crucial movement when it came to ending apartheid in South Africa, and the international movement for BDS is already having a tangible impact. Earlier this year, the security company G4S announced that it is planning to leave the Israeli market after being targeted by numerous Israel apartheid divestment campaigns. G4S had provided significant technology and services supporting Israeli prisons where Palestinians are illegally detained and tortured, checkpoints at the apartheid wall, and a police training academy.
What does it mean for a corporation to be “complicit in the occupation”?
Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, and annexed East Jerusalem, in 1967, and for almost 50 years millions of Palestinians in those territories have been subject to a brutal military occupation. That means that an unarmed civilian population, indigenous to Palestine, is ruled by an extremely well-funded, intricate and all-encompassing military apparatus which has the most advanced weapons technology in the world and unconditional support from the United States. Moreover, since 2002, Israel has de facto annexed more and more Palestinian land through the construction of the apartheid wall, while claiming to the international community that they are willing participants in a “peace process.” Meanwhile, Palestinian families are split apart by the wall; towns and villages are put under curfew; resources like water and electricity are allowed in limited amounts; and Palestinians are consistently prevented from accessing services like medical care and education.
This system of control requires the contracting of numerous corporations to sustain its oppression of the Palestinian people. The construction of the massive apartheid wall requires cement production and engineering, which Cemex provides. HP provides technology for checkpoints and surveillance. Caterpillar’s bulldozers are used to demolish Palestinian homes to make way for Israeli settlers. And companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrup Grumman provide the missiles that killed over 2,000 Palestinians, the overwhelming majority civilians, in the summer of 2014. See our Companies page for more details.