REP. ACKERMAN ATTACKS OVER 100 NYU PROFESSORS FOR SIGNING DIVESTMENT LETTER
Students for Justice in Palestine at NYU issues official response
New York, NY — 21 October 2011 — House Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY), ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, recently issued a statement attacking the actions of 132 New York University (NYU) faculty and staff members. Students for Justice in Palestine at NYU (SJP @ NYU) SJP @ NYU vehemently defends the signers of the Open Letter, while challenging Ackerman’s commitment to justice and international law.
The professors have signed an Open Letter to TIAA-CREF, drafted by SJP @ NYU, calling for divestment from five corporations – Motorola Systems, Caterpillar, Northrop Grumman, Elbit, and Veolia – whose equipment facilitates the oppression of Palestinians and the continued illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Writing that the NYU professors and staff are “blinded” by an “ill-informed and self-righteous rage,” Ackerman “strongly condemn[ed]” what he described as an “ill-conceived and dangerous effort … to instigate divestment from American and Israeli companies by TIAA-CREF.”
“Congressman Ackerman insists on supporting — and even questioning the existence of — the vicious, illegal, and US-backed Israeli occupation,” said Glen Pine, an organizer with SJP @ NYU. “His chilling attack on conscientious NYU professors deserves condemnation, while the professors themselves deserve praise for taking a courageous stand on behalf of basic human rights and dignity. The Letter to TIAA-CREF is still open for more signatures; now is the perfect time for additional NYU faculty and staff members to lend their support.”
Jeff Goodwin, Professor of Sociology at NYU, commented that “Representative Ackerman’s apparent denial that Israel is occupying Palestinian territories and systematically violating basic Palestinian rights is simply shocking. This kind of moral blindness has long been an impediment to peace-making between Israelis and Palestinians.”
According to NYU Arab Language Lecturer Medhat Credi, “Rep. Ackerman criticized NYU faculty members for signing a letter calling TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, because he very well knows the power of this call if it is implemented.”
According to SJP @ NYU organizer Nada Matta, “Rep. Ackerman’s letter carries on the long-lasting U.S. elite tradition of actively silencing individuals and groups that voice their disapproval of illegal Israeli actions, oppose the oppression of Palestinians, or demand a change in the U.S. policy towards Israel.”
Alaa Yousef, another organizer, commented that “The U.S. general public remains one of the most uninformed in the world regarding the brutality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians. Rep. Ackerman, in his attempt to deface a just and democratic cause, could not have more perfectly exemplified why.”
SJP @ NYU is a campus advocacy group in support of the Palestinian cause. The group advocates for non-violent actions in support of the Palestinian right to self-determination. The TIAA-CREF Divestment Campaign seeks to raise awareness about the illegal, US-backed Israeli occupation and the oppression of Palestinians