In a landslide victory, the student government of UCLA voted, 8-2-2, for a resolution to divest from 11 companies that are heavily involved in Israel's occupation and human rights violations. The effort for divestment was led by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and supported by 31 diverse student groups at UCLA, The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) salutes student -- and faculty -- organizers at UCLA for their principled, creative and tireless work which paved the way for this victory, despite fierce opposition by Israeli lobby groups. This significant achievement indicates a turn in the tide against Israel's regime of injustice, and corporations profiting from it.
This UCLA student government divestment success comes on the heels of Israel's latest assault on Gaza, in which the Israeli occupation forces committed war crimes and massacred more than 2,100 Palestinians in the densely packed and long-besieged Gaza Strip, its intensifying ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley and the Naqab (Negev), and its state-sponsored terror attacks by fanatic settlers on Muslim and Christian holy places in occupied Jerusalem.
Citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UCLA divestment motion names some of the worst corporate offenders for their involvement in Israel's violations of Palestinian rights. It accuses Boeing, Caterpillar, Cement Road stone Holdings (CRH), Cemex, General Dynamics, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and United Technologies of violating the universal right "to life, liberty, and security of person;" "to education;" to "privacy, family [and] home;" "to own property, and ...[not to] be arbitrarily deprived of property."
Celebrating its victory, SJP said in a statement:
"Divestment organizers at UCLA, representing a wide coalition of students from all backgrounds and sectors of campus, celebrated a milestone victory for social justice with the passage of 'A Resolution to Divest from Corporations Engaged in Violence against Palestinians.'"
With this UCLA divestment success, student governments at 6 out of 9 undergraduate University of California campuses "have taken a majority vote in support of divestment from corporations that violate Palestinian human rights," the SJP statement adds.
The UCLA student groups that led this effort have shown the power of cross-movement partnerships and intersectionality in the fight against injustice, racism and human rights violations. The motion was sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, American Indian Students Association, Bengali Students Association, Bruin Feminists for Equality, IDEAS (Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success), Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project, Jewish Voice for Peace, Muslim Students Association, Queer Alliance, Samahang Pilipino, Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, UMMA Volunteer Project, and United Arab Society.
PACBI salutes students organizing for social justice at UCLA, including students who led the effort for divestment from companies engaged in violence against Palestinians, from Fossil Fuel Companies, and the Prison Industrial Complex. We are inspired by your work, and look forward to the day when the University of California will divest from companies profiting from Israel's occupation and apartheid, as well as in human rights violations everywhere, as it had withdrawn in 1986 its $1.7B stake in companies implicated in South Africa's apartheid. It is an inspiring achievement, particularly given the unconditional support Israel gets from the US administration as well as from many presidents of US universities.
UCLA student groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace, led and won the current divestment effort in spite of aggressive, well-endowed bullying and smearing campaigns by the Zionist group Hillel and other Israel lobby groups. The UCLA Hillel, whose annual budget in 2012 was $1.8 million and the costly public relations firm they hired to fight BDS on campus were in fact defeated by the collective work of student organizers at UCLA.
It is worth noting that UCLA's Hillel is in the midst of a UC system-wide investigation by a student government committee for accepting large donations from "a wealthy anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic real estate agent in the Los Angeles area," according to an investigative report on Electronic Intifada.
Israel's main lobby groups in the US have openly led efforts and desperately allocated millions of dollars to fight BDS-related campaigns on campuses. What they fear most is the snowballing effect of BDS on campuses and elsewhere, eventually taking a toll on corporations that are implicated in Israel's crimes – as was the case in the struggle against apartheid South Africa. Despite their patent arrogance, abrasive bullying, enormous financial resources and political influence on elected officials and in the media, Israel lobby groups have so far largely failed to hold back the rapid spread of BDS among academic associations, student groups, churches, communities of color and young Jewish groups.
US campus divestment resolutions have not only begun to raise the price of corporate complicity in Israel's regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid; they have given Palestinians everywhere, especially in Gaza and Jerusalem, hope that people of conscience around the world have not forgotten them and will continue to support their struggle for freedom, justice and equality.