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A RESOLUTION FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN TO DIVEST FROM SOCIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE COMPANIES THAT VIOLATE PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS

ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 3-050

A RESOLUTION FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN TO DIVEST FROM SOCIALLY IRRESPONSIBLE COMPANIES THAT VIOLATE PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS

WHEREAS,the role of the President’s Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights is to “Monitor code enforcement and promote University leadership in corporate citizenship with respect to fair labor practices, human rights, and sustainability in its licensing operations”;AND,

WHEREAS,as an example of this commitment, the Procurement Services of the Business and Finance Office at the University of Michigan is committed to “Socially responsible procurement [which] is defined as conducting the University of Michigan’s business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business operation” ; AND,

 

WHEREAS, The University of Michigan continues to be hub for student activism surrounding social justice, including issues of militarism, women’s rights, environmental justice, and underrepresented minorities; AND,

WHEREAS, the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents’ divestment from South African Apartheid in 1978 and from tobacco-related companies in 2000 sets a precedent for ethical divestment from socially irresponsible companies; AND,

WHEREAS, human rights are universal and apply to all people regardless of race, nationality, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other status; AND,

WHEREAS, Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and hold a military blockade in the Gaza Strip in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 242; AND,

WHEREAS, the Israeli occupation’s policies and systematic discrimination against Palestinians is well documented by academics, activists, and human rights groups; AND,

WHEREAS, the occupation infringes upon Palestinian human rights in such ways as, the building of settlements on Palestinian land, the uneven distribution of land and water resources, the unlawful demolition of Palestinian homes, the administrative detention of Palestinians without charge,the prohibition of Palestinian use of Israeli only roads, and the siege and blockade of Gaza; AND,

WHEREAS, the United Nations Human Rights Council 2013 report states that Palestinians’ “rights to freedom of self-determination, non-discrimination, freedom of movement, equality, due process, fair trial, not to be arbitrarily detained, liberty and security of person, freedom of expression […] are being violated consistently and on a daily basis” by Israel; AND,

WHEREAS, the June 30, 2013 University of Michigan Directly Held Equities report of investments lists investments in General Electric, Heidelberg Cement, Caterpillar and United Technology, which are explicitly tied to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and violations of international human rights law; AND,

 

WHEREAS, General Electric Corporation (GE) “supplies the propulsion system for Israel’s AH-64 Apache Assault Helicopter, which has been used in Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns and refugee camps…[and] possesses contracts with Israel to sell engines for a variety of military aircraft…[and] possesses several Israeli service contracts for engineering support and testing”; AND,

 

WHEREAS, Heidelberg Cement is “the owner of three plants in West Bank settlements and one Israeli aggregates quarry in the occupied West Bank through Hanson Israel” in which “the quarry exploits the occupied Palestinian natural resources for the Israeli construction industry”; AND,

WHEREAS, Caterpillar “manufactures and provides bulldozers and civil engineering tools…used in demolitions of Palestinians’ houses in the occupied territories, in the construction of the separation wall and settlements on Palestinian land, in military incursions and as weapons. The Israeli army has used unmanned D9 bulldozers (Dawn Thunder) in the Dec 2008 attacks in Gaza” and in the murder of Evergreen College student Rachel Corrie; AND,

WHEREAS, United Technologies “produces Blackhawk helicopters which are used by the Israeli military to attack Palestinian cities, refugee camps and villages. Many civilians have been killed in these attacks”; AND,

WHEREAS, Palestinian civil society has called on the global community to implement boycotts, divestments, and sanctions in order to pressure Israel to comply with international law; and has had its call endorsed by a diverse group of activists and leaders including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, eminent academics and public intellectuals Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, Civil Rights Activist Angela Davis, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, among others; AND,

 

WHEREAS,the companies identified are involved in activities that deeply and personally affect Palestinian University of Michigan students with families and ties in Palestine; AND

 

WHEREAS,it is the opinion of the authors that ethical divestment fits with UM’s deeply held principles of justice and equality for all people.

 

WHEREAS, the concern to be explored is expressed broadly and consistently by the campus community over time, and the action in question is antithetical to the core mission and values of the University; THEREFORE BE IT

 

RESOLVED, that the Central Student Government calls upon the University of Michigan Regents to appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate the ethical and moral implications of our investments in the corporations Caterpillar, General Electric, Heidelberg Cement, United Technologies, and all other companies that explicitly profit from and facilitate the Israeli occupation and siege of Palestinian land in violation of international law and human rights, in order to persuade these companies to terminate all such business activity; AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, that the Central Student Government urges the UM asset managers to divest, as soon as such divestment may be accomplished without injury to the UM’s assets and investment strategies, from all such companies that, within one year from the date of engagement remain uncommitted to a diligent plan for terminating all such unethical business activities; AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED,The University of Michigan maintain socially responsible investment practices that align with the University’s mission and values, as well as the precedents set by previous divestments, as well as the ethical and moral standards its students demand; AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, the CSG establish a committee tasked with the annual review and evaluation of the University’s investments portfolio for its integrity to the University’s ethical and moral standards, and thereupon the submission of a report for consideration by the board of regents; AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to the UM Board of Regents, in addition to the President’s Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights, for their consideration; AND BE IT FURTHER

 

RESOLVED, that this resolution stand as an expression of solidarity with all people struggling for self-determination

 

Authors

_______________________________

Bayan Founas

_______________________________

Farah Erzouki

 

_______________________________

Suha Najjar

_______________________________

Yazan Kherallah

 

_______________________________

Rae Scevers, Rackham

Attest

 

______________________________

Meagan Shokar

Speaker of the Assembly

_____________________________

Ramon Martinez

Vice Speaker of the Assembly

President’s Approval

____________________________

Michael Proppe

Presented to the Assembly for First Reads on ___________________________

Presented to the Assembly for Second Reads on _________________________

 

Yes:  _____No: _____Abs:_____Date: _______________________

Signature Necessary: ______       Signature Received By _________________: ______

All Men (Except Palestinians) Are Created Equal

By Suha Najjar, LSA Sophomore at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Article 3 Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights states: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

This past summer, I was in Jabalia, Gaza visiting my uncle’s home. It was about 2:15 am, and my 3-year-old cousin, Susu, thought it would be funny to start throwing peaches at me. Meanwhile my mother, brother, sister, uncle, and his wife, were counting down the last minutes until the electricity was supposed to come back on. We had gone 11 hours straight without electricity that day. Suddenly, for the third time during my 2-month-long visit to Palestine, the sound of an explosion rung in the living room. For a second, I thought that the missile had hit our building, but then I remembered the descriptions my friends and family had given me when explosions hit nearby. Shaking walls, shattered glass, and blinding dust were all a part of their vivid recounts, something that not many people around the world have to live through, but all the people of Gaza do. Our building wasn’t hit, but our cores where shook. Although it had happened twice before, this was a sound that I could never get used to. Susu immediately began crying and my uncle ran to him and embraced him in his arms. As he stroked his hair, all he said was “la la yaba” (“no, no, daddy”) until his son stopped crying. My uncle looked at me and shook his head. The only thing I thought to say at that moment was “Don’t be afraid, Susu, it’s going to be okay.” My uncle smiled and put Susu down.

Jabaliya refugee camp is one of the most deprived and densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip.

“How do you know that, Suha? We don’t have the right to make promises like that anymore. Actually, we never did. We Palestinians don’t have the right to promise our children anything. We can’t promise them college, we can’t promise them bread, we can’t promise them a home, we can’t promise them security, we can’t even promise them life. What kind of fathers and mothers are we? We don’t have the right to be parents. Look what they did to our people, we’re not even a people anymore, we’re just animals. Actually we’d be lucky if we were treated like animals. Why do I have to see my son crying and shaking in fear almost every night? Why can’t I have the peace of mind knowing that my son can someday just have the HOPE of having a happy life, away from missiles, away from bombs, away from this shit that we live in?! I don’t even know why your father lets you come here. Our lives are worthless. The world has forgotten about us. Or they never cared to begin with. The Arabs are shit and America is shit. The whole world is shit! We don’t have anyone but God. And it looks like He’s not on our side either. Do yourself a big favor in the future, don’t ever let your children get a Palestinian citizenship or even come back here. Stay American. At least you’ll be a human being.

The conversation was interrupted as my uncle’s neighbor shouted to him from outside. He and my uncle tried to get a generator working, knowing that it would be a while until the electricity is restored.

My mind drifted back to my life here in the states. I remembered all the protests that I was a part of, the ‘stands in solidarity’, the ‘dialogues and discussions.’ Things I always thought would some day change the atrocious conditions my family was living in. In that brief moment that dragged excruciatingly on, they all seemed so worthless, so hypocritical…

There were two lands that I called home, Palestine and the USA. One’s name is imprinted on the F-16’s, the machine guns, the tanks, the tear gas that is used everyday to dehumanize, disillusion, and slaughter my other home. Yet, I still thought that America and the rest of the world would always defend my right to “life, liberty and security of person.” The rights I always thought I had simply because I was human, suddenly became the ones I owned only because I was an American, and that privilege was lifted the moment I stepped foot into the occupied territories of Palestine. That cringing sound of an airplane that would never cause me to flinch in America, now caused my heart to drop as I would pray it wasn’t my last night.

Up until that moment, I always felt that I was a victim. After all I had been an Arab-Muslim woman living in America, but in reality, it was the opposite. I was a part of the human race as long as I stood outside of Palestine. I still had a voice, I still had the right to plan and promise, I still had hope, something that my people couldn’t fathom they’d someday own as well. Guilt overtook me as I realized that when I lived in America, I was a part of the ‘they’ my uncle was referring to. I was a part of the ‘they’ that allowed my uncle to become demoralized and dejected. I immediately decided to stop thinking about it and returned to tickling and playing hide and seek with Susu until the night was over. I was uncomfortably comforted by Susu’s innocence, wishing I could be in his shoes, have his views, if only for a little while.

We left around 5 a.m. to our apartment in Rimal, still no electricity. Before I went to bed, my dad took our passports in order to reserve us a spot on the Gaza-Rafah border so that we could plan our leave weeks later. When I pulled out my two passports from my dad’s waist bag, I stared at both documents. In one hand I carried what made me a ‘human’ and in the other, the exact opposite. A feeling of hypocrisy, contradiction, and overall confusion overtook me whole. I am a living paradox, two incompatible entities housed within one body. But the truth is, I have yet to grasp what it means to be a Palestinian, an American, and a human being living in the world today. One thing that I have become completely conscious of is that the right to liberty does not apply to every human. The right to life is selective at best, and the right to security of person is a mere façade. I’ve realized that these rights are the standards of select human beings, but not for Palestinians. Not yet. The hope that this may one day be a standard for Susu and his grandkids is a dream too far down the road to be declared a universal standard. For the sake of accuracy, a decree ought to be issued to call it by its true name: ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights for everyone, but Palestinians.’

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Sweeping Change Hits Saudi Arabia!!!

Dear Campus,

I would like to congratulate you on this momentous occasion as the Saudi king has decided to give women the right to vote and to run in elections for municipal councils that have little to no actual governing powers! Also, he has announced that they now have the privilege of possibly being hand-selected by him to join his advisory Shura Council.

What a phenomenal moment in the struggle for women’s rights and for change in the Arab world!! Never mind the twisted-ness of this man and others thinking that this fundamental right is theirs to “give.” Never mind that these same women are not allowed to undergo many medical procedures without the direct consent of a male relative (read superior). Never mind that it is still a punishable crime for any of these women to undertake the ever-so-complicated task of operating a motor vehicle. Never mind that this man and his regime are directly responsible for the suppression and silencing of women (and men) not only in their country, but abroad as well. Never mind all of these realities. Instead, today we celebrate the great honor that his excellency, the Saudi king, has decided to bestow upon humanity. Cheers!

It is no wonder why our government labels this man a reformer. He truly is a man of change that we can believe in, and I am proud that America heavily supports his noble and just efforts. May we all draw inspiration from his courageous leadership in reforming that backwards area of the world, where only “gradual,” minor, and meaningless changes like this can lead to actual prosperity.

Sincerely,
Sarcasm

Written by Abbas Z. Alawieh-LSA Senior at the University of Michigan

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Will the real Barack Obama please stand up?

By Eman Abdelhadi-LSA Senior at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The President

Exactly 6 days after he delivered his “much-anticipated” speech on Middle East policy and 3 days after he delivered an address to AIPAC  speaking on many of the same topics, President Obama spoke to both houses of the British Parliament  about US-British relations. The American press hailed the first speech as a “reset on Middle East policy”, and bloggers and writers claimed that the US had finally thrown full support behind the Arab Spring. Pro-Israel writers followed Mitt Romney’s example and bemoaned the President’s proclamation on the 1967 borders as an act of throwing Israel under the proverbial bus. But as an activist and humanitarian, his speeches spoke to me not of the bold moves of a visionary leader but of the delusion and condescension of a Bush Era henchman.

The Community Organizer

Cutting through the rhetoric and niceties to the actual policy implications of his speech on Thursday, showed that Obama was merely spelling out an extension of the US policy of placing American security and economic interests in the region above all else. Even while pledging to support protesters, Obama continued to ignore their foremost demand; just as he had done with Tunisia, then Egypt. His harshest words, to President Al-Assad, spoke volumes. “President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way.” Lead the transition? How can a man who has waged war on his people, shooting down hundreds if not thousands of protesters while injuring and torturing many more, lead a transition to democracy? Since that first fateful Friday in December when Tunisian vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire, the central rally cry of the revolution has been the toppling of the current regimes in the Arab world.  “The people want the end of the regime” has resounded from square to square telling the world that those who rejected democracy and favored corruption for decades cannot, in one magical act of schizophrenia, turn around and lead their governments into a democracy! Apparently Obama has not been listening. A fact only reinforced by his deliberate failure to even mention Saudi Arabia’s massive military campaign against protesters in Bahrain and Yemen. Clearly US-favored stability at the cost of freedom of expression and self-determination is still the policy.

As for the now oft-cited recognition of the 1967 borders, I guess a congratulations is in order to our dear president for finally recognizing what has been decided by international law and affirmed by the global  community and humanitarians every where years ago. But before we jump on the US love boat and hail this step as revolutionary, let’s look at Obama’s speech to AIPAC only 3 days later. Stating that his ultimate priority was Israel’s security, Obama once again re-affirmed the stagnation of American foreign policy. Although he may stand before the world and claim an interest in the humanitarian objectives of both peoples, the reality is that his stance behind Israel is, in his own words, “ironclad”. His desperation to show Israel’s biggest lobby that nothing had changed in US support for Israel was disgusting and shameful considering the Israeli record of human rights violations and unlawful aggression.  Nowhere in either speech did he care to mention the unequal power dynamic between the two players or, while he harped on Palestinians for ending negotiations, Israel’s tendency to violate treaty after treaty after treaty. For Obama, Israel is not a means to peace, but an end in itself, just as it was for Bush and his predecessors.

If these two speeches left me dejected and disappointed, Obama’s talks in Great Britain left me nothing short of heartbroken. I watched as the ex-community organizer from Chicago who once, in near memory, embodied hope and progress, tolerated the superfluous ceremonies of a monarchy smeared with the legacy of colonialism and Eurocentrism. Then that same Obama stood before a podium and reminded his audience that the world still needed US-Brittish leadership, which had not ended. To an audience of British parliament members perhaps this was welcome news. But to those of us who know that leadership for what it was and is, a self-interested, opportunistic tendency to use military and economic prowess to trick the developing world out of its resources and self-determination, this was anything but good news. As Obama condescendingly clung to Western hegemony, his rhetoric echoed the exceptionalism we had become so accustomed to in the 8 years before his election. “It’s very hard to sit across the table from a party that is denying your right to exist, and has not renounced the right to send missiles and rockets into your territory,” he said matter-of-factly speaking of Fatah’s power-sharing alliance with Hamas (which is preventing civil bloodshed between Palestinians as we speak). Could the Palestinians not say the exact same thing to Israel, Mr President? Ironically, in almost the same breath, he re-iterated his opposition to Palestinian statehood being brought to the UN this fall. A dismissal of the UN and its role chillingly reminiscent of Bush Doctrine policies.

As I watched all this unfold I could not help but recall that historic speech to the Muslim world two years ago in which Barack Obama said “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect”. A speech in which he recognized the harms done to the Muslim world by the very American-European leadership he today tries to revive. “Tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.” I could not bear the juxtaposition of the image of a politically young, newly elected Obama standing in front of a red curtain speaking of change, progress and equality and the image of a wizened president touring Buckingham palace with her majesty the queen and referencing the good ol’ days of uncontested US hegemony with Britain as its faithful sidekick.  I cannot help but wonder if in 2009 Obama only spoke in Cairo assuming that he would not be called to substantiate his promises because the Arab world would always be chained into submission by its dictatorial US allies. Or, perhaps in the time the Arabs have used to lift their chains, Obama, the community organizer, has incurred a set of his own. Either way, this is not the man next to whose name I proudly blackened a small black oval on November 4th, 2008.

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Welcome to Diag Dissent, the official blog of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), a student organization at the University of Michigan. This blog is a medium through which student activists can engage social justice on campus. Please subscribe and check out our About Us page!

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