Statement to the Columbia Community
It is against the backdrop of Columbia and Barnard students’ history of moral commitment to social, political, and economic justice that we, as members of Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, come together as Columbia University Apartheid Divest to call for the University to divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from the State of Israel’s ongoing system of settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid law. This campaign is embedded in the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement directed toward the State of Israel until it complies with international law by:
- Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
On June 22nd 2015, the Columbia University Board of Trustees voted to sell its stocks in Corrections Corporation of America and G4S, making Columbia the first academic institution in the United States to divest from the private prison industry. This victory, achieved through the tireless work of Columbia Prison Divest, inspired in student organizers a renewed dedication to hold the Columbia administration accountable for maintaining global systems of oppression.
This was not, however, the first of such movements. On October 7th 1985, under the pressure of student activists, the Board of Trustees voted to sell $41 million of its endowment investments in American companies with ties to South Africa. In doing so, Columbia became the first Ivy League university to divest from Apartheid South Africa.
Thanks to the efforts of our allies at Columbia Prison Divest, Columbia has already divested from G4S, a private prison corporation that profits from the incarceration of Palestinian political prisoners, 470 of whom are child prisoners, equips military checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall with security technologies, and enables the expansion of illegal settlements byproviding security technology. We must continue the hard work of divesting from corporations that fuel and maintain the State of Israel’s continued human rights abuses. As Columbia University Apartheid Divest, we call upon the University to divest its endowment from the following corporations that profit from Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights: Caterpillar, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Elbit Systems, Mekorot, Hapoalim, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.
By investing in such companies, Columbia actively supports Israel’s continued occupation of and assaults against the Palestinian people, including the most recent military operation on the Gaza Strip which claimed over 2,104 Palestinian lives, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 women, according to the UN. The Israeli Defense Forces use technologies such as F-16 fighter jets, GBU-9 small diameter bombs, and Apache helicopters produced by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. These companies directly profit from the ceaseless military violence faced by Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights.
Columbia students are implicated through the University’s investments in these same companies. The movements to divest from the prison industrial complex and Apartheid South Africa have shown us that divestment at Columbia is an effective way of ending our institutional complicity in global systems of oppression. In both movements, it was a coalition of activists on campus that courageously spoke truth to power and challenged our institution to maintain its principles of human dignity. Columbia University Apartheid Divest is inspired by this legacy.
We demand that Columbia University end its investments in Israeli Apartheid.
We call upon the Columbia community to support Palestinian human rights.
We stand united for justice.
Demand Columbia divest from apartheid. Sign our petition today.