It’s Time to Divest from Apartheid, Again.

Ellis Garey, Shafeka Hashash, and Evan Jones are organizers with NYU Students for Justice in Palestine. This article was originally published in Washington Square News

Thirty years ago last Saturday, tireless organizing by NYU students led the administration to recognize the need to divest from apartheid South Africa. Today, NYU Students for Justice in Palestine calls on the NYU community to join the struggle to achieve a similar victory for Palestinians.

NYU Out of Occupied Palestine, a campus coalition of students, student organizations and faculty, recently announced its campaign urging the university to divest any holdings it has in companies that profit from the occupation of Palestine. These are the companies that design security technology for Israel’s 325 mile apartheid wall, which is illegal according to international law. These are the companies that produce specially outfitted bulldozers, which the Israeli army used to illegally demolish Palestinian homes. These are the companies that provided the weapons for this summer’s Gaza-Israel conflict, in which 2,100 Palestinians were killed, 500 of whom were children and 1,473 of whom were civilians.

A faculty letter in support of the campaign has already garnered over 130 signatures. Following the letter’s publication, the NYU Faculty of Arts and Sciences held a historic forum on April 8 that addressed the issues of divestment from corporations profiting off Israeli apartheid and the illegal occupation of Palestine, fossil fuel companies and labor violations across NYU satellite campuses. Three campus groups were featured in the discussion: NYU Out of Occupied Palestine, Coalition for Fair Labor at NYU and NYU Divest.

NYU Students for Justice in Palestine lends full support to this faculty initiative. It is a significant step forward, following several other divestment campaigns nationwide, and an advancement of the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. 

While this campaign focuses on the occupied territories, NYU SJP is committed to ending racism and colonialism within all of Israel and the Palestinian territories with the understanding that the violations in the occupied territories are the necessary consequences of Zionism. These oppressions include settler-colonization, ethnic cleansing,racist discrimination and segregation, bombardment and siege of Gaza and the illegal military occupation of the West Bank.

 The Palestinian struggle for justice does not end in Israel and Palestine, but extends to many other areas of the world — even the NYU campus. In a recent statement, the NYU Senate Financial Affairs Committee Divestment Working Group stated that the university would only divest funds in instances in which there is “a clear and compelling moral or humanitarian objective.” Our university should not continue to invest in the occupation of Palestine and the perpetual Israeli violence against Palestinians —  NYU must divest from the companies responsible for these human rights violations.

It’s time the NYU community makes another critical contribution to dismantling oppression, racism, and imperialism on a global scale by divesting from companies that enable Israeli apartheid.

Growing Support for BDS at NYU!


On Wednesday, April 8, 2015, the NYU Faculty of Arts and Sciences held a historic forum concerning the issues of divestment from corporations profiting off Israeli apartheid and the illegal occupation of Palestine, fossil fuel companies, and NYU’s complicity in labor rights violations across its satellite campuses.  This forum follows a faculty petition, which in just a few months garnered over 130 signatures and calls on NYU “to divest from all companies in its portfolio that contribute to or profit from the Israeli occupation.”

NYU Students for Justice in Palestine applauds this faculty initiative as a significant step—following several other divestment campaigns nationwide—and as an advancement of the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.  These actions adhere to the Palestinian civil society’s call for BDS, a non-violent campaign that seeks to make Israel comply with international law and recognize Palestinian human rights. Israel’s violations include settler-colonization, ethnic cleansing, racist discrimination and segregation, bombardment and siege of Gaza, and the illegal military occupation of the West Bank. In the most recent Operation Protective Edge assault, Israel killed over 2,100 Palestinians, the great majority of them civilians and a quarter of them children.

SJP recognizes the fight for the basic human rights of all Palestinians, including those living in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, and refugees living across the globe.  To this end, we firmly endorse the three expressed BDS goals: (1) Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall, (2) Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and (3) Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. Only by the implementation of these goals can equality and justice be fully achieved in Palestine/Israel.

Divestment campaigns have proven a popular and effective strategy across numerous American university campuses in promoting BDS tactics and solidarity with the Palestinian people.  The NYU community has a strong tradition of anti-apartheid and social justice activism, especially against the racist South African apartheid state.  Just as international boycott efforts were significant in contributing to the demise of systematic segregation and racist oppression in South Africa, we believe that BDS and solidarity activism are critical in the international efforts to end Israeli apartheid.  This faculty forum is an important first step, but we hope that all members of the NYU community will join us in supporting the call for justice and in supporting an end to oppression everywhere.  

Why NYU-SJP held Israeli Apartheid Week

Amith Gupta is an International Institute of Law and Justice scholar at the NYU School of Law. He is an organizer with NYU Students for Justice in Palestine. This article was originally published in Washington Square News

Over 100 students and community members participated in a series of  NYU Students for Justice In Palestine events, known as “Israeli Apartheid Week.” In addition, 41 individuals volunteered for NYU-SJP’s burgeoning campaign to support NYU divesting from corporations complicit in Israeli human rights abuses. Thus far, 119 NYU faculty have called for divestment from such corporations.

Attacks on NYU-SJP’s event series have become increasingly bizarre. But there is an underlying theme: apologists for Israeli aggression are running out of excuses.

Putting the Willie Horton scandal to shame, Benyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s re-elected prime minister, rode into office using racist scare tactics about the dangers of “Arab voters” in order to appeal to Israel’s most fascist elements. Ironically, the same voter base whom Netanyahu denigrated in order to win the election is often exploited as proof of Israel’s supposed diversity when the country is accused of apartheid, as it was in a United Nations report.

While it is true that Israel reluctantly granted citizenship to some Palestinians — namely, descendants of the minority of Palestinians who remained in present-day Israel after Israelexpelled the rest in 1948 — they are subject to at least 40 different discriminatory laws and barred from owning property in significant portions of what is now the state of Israel.

But Israel treats most Palestinians far worse. The vast majority of Palestinians are notconsidered Israeli citizens. Instead, they live under Israeli military occupation, under the perpetual threat of indiscriminate attack, torture, land theft and other crimes; or in exile as refugees and in perpetual danger.

That is why NYU-SJP joined universities, churches, mosques, community centers and others in commemorating Israeli Apartheid Week. That is why the term “apartheid” has been used to describe Israeli policy by figures including anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and a slew of other international rights organizations, legal bodies and authorities. If anything, it is an understatement.

That is why NYU SJP is following the footsteps of the movement against apartheid in South Africa by supporting campus divestment campaigns against corporations complicit in Israel’s ongoing abuses.

It is why hundreds of New Yorkers listened with open minds and hearts as an NYU graduate student from Gaza, Jehad Abusalim, described how the Israeli army murdered three of his friends with indiscriminate bombardment throughout Gaza this summer, and was was forced to check if his entire family had been killed every day for 50 days. It is why the community came to hear journalist Joe Catron tell us how he had witnessed Israeli troops targeting hospitals and schools in Gaza as it violated ceasefire agreements.

That is why Cherrell Brown spoke to our community about the parallels she had noted between Ferguson and Palestine, where she visited upon invitation from solidarity activists. “Like in Ferguson, they are afraid of how people will respond to their oppressors,” she said. “We were being collectively punished [in Ferguson] because the police had shot Mike Brown, just as Hebron [a Palestinian city under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank] is experiencing collective punishment for what their oppressors have done to them.” She continued, “We know St. Louis police are being trained by Israeli soldiers. They are using the same weaponry, as some of the tear gas being used in Ferguson is from Israel. And so we must work together, and share our stories and our collective resistance.”

Israel’s atrocities in Gaza; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to kickstarta U.S. war with Iran; his collaboration with Republican warhawks to undermine the sitting U.S. president; his overt rejection of what passes for “peace” in Israel; his race-baiting electoral win; Israel’s role in NSA spying programs; and its close collaboration with heavy-handed American police have created a public relations nightmare for a state that normally holds shameful levels of support in the United States. It appears that serious changes to the decades of injustice Israel has imposed upon its victims are on the horizon.

Toothless negotiations between the powerful and the powerless, empty dialogue initiatives and the intimidation of activist groups whitewash the blatant inequality between Israel and its Palestinian subjects, and will never lead to changes.

Change will only occur with endless Palestinian-led international efforts to organize political resistance to the inequality which NYU SJP is proud, unashamed and unapologetic in joining.

SJP hosts discussion on Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 12.46.51 PM

Alex Bazeley is a Deputy News Editor at Washington Square News. This article was originally published in Washington Square News.

December 2, 2014

NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine hosted a discussion on Dec. 1 during which experts explored the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the United States, which opposes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Launched in 2005, the movement aims to force Israel to comply with international law.

The panel featured Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, Corey Robin, associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College, and J. Kehaulani Kauanui, professor of American studies at Wesleyan University. Held at NYU’s Vanderbilt Hall, the event focused on the techniques of the BDS campaign and the motivations behind it.

Barghouti explained that BDS calls for three crucial rights for Palestinian self-determination: ending the military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ending Israel’s system of racial discrimination against Palestinians and the return of refugees.

“Our strategy depended on attacking the brand,” Barghouti said. “Israel, despite its power, is not designed to face such nonviolent challenges.”

Kauanui outlined a three-prong boycott approach to challenging Israeli exceptionalism: academic, institutional and cultural. She said this strategy clarified the issue for those who oppose the policies of Israel.

“For academic and cultural boycott, it is so profoundly radical in the sense that it is so much about anti-normalization, and I think that that is why it’s become a point of rupture for people,” Kauanui said.

Robin pointed out the tensions in universities over the increasingly sharp divide between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine intellectuals.

“The battle of Israel is, first and foremost, a cultural battle,” Robin said. “Campuses are ground zero of that battle.”

Barghouti, however, said he and the movement oppose NYU Tel Aviv, which partners with the Tel Aviv University. The group is calling for the end of exchange programs with all Israeli universities.

“How can NYU have a relationship with a university that discriminates openly so that Palestinian students cannot participate?” Barghouti said. “How can it get away with that, being in bed with an apartheid institution?”

President of NYU’s pro-Israel advocacy group TorchPAC Laura Ad kins, who was not at the event, said the movement only leads to more violence, and boycotting companies with ties to Israel would not end perceived injustices toward Palestinians and Arabs.

“Most companies that operate in Israel employ [Israeli] Arabs and many Palestinians,” Adkins said. “Attempts at boycotting these companies hurt the very people groups like SJP purportedly seek to help.”

Barghouti warned against optimism surrounding any action from the U.S. government.

“Stopping U.S. aid to Israel absolutely is the main sanction we want,” Barghouti said. “But if anyone has the delusion that Congress will wake up and be moral — it won’t. It never was and it never will be.”