The student group UC Santa Barbara Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) released a resolution this Sunday calling for Associated Students to divest from companies that contribute to what SJP calls an occupation of Palestine.
The resolution calls for the university to examine and promptly disinvest from its assets that provide support for “occupying” Palestinian territories, building a wall in a highly disputed area, the West Bank, or developing Israeli settlements on “annexed” territories.
SJP called for A.S., UCSB and the Regents to divest from Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard in particular, though it said these are not the only companies contributing to Palestinian oppression, and the UC should divest from any of its assets profiting from such actions.
The resolution was released on the night of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. Critics believed the resolution’s timing was purposefully malicious. SJP released a statement on their Facebook page denouncing the implication that the post was anti-Semitic.
The proposal was endorsed by 25 other student organizations including the A.S. Student Commission on Racial Equality, El Congreso and the Student Activist Network.
Anumita Kaur, SJP member and fourth-year sociology major, sponsored the resolution, which she said SJP plans to place on the A.S. Senate agenda next week.
Kaur said the student organization had two goals in creating the resolution, the first being the “tangible ask” of demanding UCSB and the UC system to remove funds from corporations that allegedly assist in violence against the Palestinian people.
Kaur said the resolution was also meant to be a way for the UC system to be held accountable and to focus on making ethical investments at all times.
Kaur said the organization’s second goal was to educate people.
“A lot of people can’t even point to where Palestine is on the map, and it’s so important that people understand that this is a violence occurring on our globe,” she said.
In an accompanying press release made public on Sunday, SJP said its resolution “is in no way intended to alienate students on campus; it is intended to create a critical dialogue about regimes participating in human rights violations.”
The statement added that students were critical to social movements in the past and that UCSB must answer its duty as a top-level institution.
“Students have historically been at the forefront of social justice movements, from the Civil Rights Movement to South African Apartheid, student power has been an integral part of progress and change,” the statement read.
“Belonging to a top tier research institution, it is our duty to combat racism, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, imperialism, colonization and global inequality. We cannot exceptionalize Israel.”
Sunday’s resolution and press release are part of a years-long student effort to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), a “nonviolent movement that was called for by Palestinian Civil Society in 2005 in response to Israel’s disregard for international law,” as the statement describes it.
Kaur said she believes if people were more understanding of SJP’s perspective, they might have less “volatile opinions.”
“I think the biggest thing to understand about this movement and this resolution is that it’s really just premised on love; it’s premised on, you know, a desire for global humanity,” Kaur said.
“All it is in its inherent nature is asking the university to remove funds from American corporations that assist in violence against a people.”
A version of this story appeared on p.1 of the Thursday, April 26, 2017, print edition of the Daily Nexus.