Statement of Solidarity with UIUC Divest
Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) stands with students at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, as they call upon their university to divest from corporations complicit in Israel’s occupation, dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people.
In our understanding of social justice, we are keenly aware of how deeply political interests in the world are conjoined with racial-capitalist processes, that develop within a culture of impunity, where the labor, learning and struggle of common people are adversely affected. We are committed to campaigns, movements and actions against class discrimination, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. We support those who stand against environmental degradation, destruction of public space, financial insecurity, imperial war, and state occupation. We oppose the settler-colonial project of Israel as it carries out what historian Ilan Pappe has called an “incremental genocide” of Palestinians.
We stand in full support of the Palestinian call for the international community to apply Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) pressure towards Israel until it abides by internationally recognized human rights principles. We reject the notion that BDS is anti-Semitic, or discriminatory in any way against the Jewish people. The BDS movement targets the policies of the Israeli government, not the Jewish or Israeli people. It demands that the Israeli government end its 50 year occupation, grant full equality to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, and allow the world’s largest refugee population to return home. The demands of the BDS movement reflect the values of justice, equality and dignity that all should uphold. This same tactic was used by the international community to end apartheid in South Africa.
The UIUC Divest campaign also calls for divestment of multiple human rights violators within this country too. These are companies which benefit off of undocumented workers, destroy the environment, and exploit human capital. If we are serious about realizing democracy, there should be demands made of our public institutions to invest endowment funds in a much more ethical manner, and in a manner that is more representative of the student body’s conscience.
We commend the UIUC Divest campaign for its efforts to hold their student government, and their university, accountable to the values of human rights, dignity and justice which now, more than ever, our institutions must work to enshrine and protect. We stand with them and call upon UIUC to divest all funds from corporations complicit in human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine and the USA.