February 7th, 2010
Dear Friends at SAIA, Students Against Israeli Apartheid - Carleton,
We are a group of Palestinians and Jews, citizens and residents of Israel, who are struggling to end Israeli apartheid and the decades-long occupation and oppression of the Palestinians. We are writing to express our unequivocal support of SAIA's admirable divestment campaign at Carleton University. We will stand by you, as SAIA struggles to insure that the Carleton University pension fund disinvests initially from five companies deeply involved in Israel's subjugation of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, in gross violation of universal human rights and of International Law. Four of these five companies went as far as supplying the crucial means of destruction for the Dec. '08-Jan. '09 Israeli onslaught on Gaza.
Since the beginning of the "peace talks" period, we watch with dismay the charade in which Israel and its backers abroad attempt to portray oppressor and oppressed as two equal sides in a conflict to be remedied if they would simply straighten out their mutual differences. International Law is crystal-clear but Israeli policy openly flouts the law, in grave violation of universally recognized conventions and basic human rights. In addition, the faux peace negotiations lend no voice to Palestinian refugees, who are still forbidden to return home and denied proper compensation for their land and property. This empty “peace process” likewise ignores Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel, who are not and never have been equal citizens under Israel’s ethnocratic regime.
Meanwhile, Israeli aggression has not only continued but intensified against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Israel’s annexation wall was built in direct violation of the International Court of Justice ruling from July 2004; illegal Israeli settlements and the military occupation regime grab ever more water, land and resources belonging to Palestinians; the operative system of apartheid by law and in practice increasingly restricts Palestinian movement with more checkpoints and roadblocks and a grid of roads paved on Palestinian land but on which Palestinians are forbidden to travel. This aggression culminated in last year's devastating attack on the Gazan population and in the years-long immoral and inhumane siege, while the deadly incursions and air strikes carry on to this day in the Gaza Strip.
Therefore, it is of vital importance to adopt an approach of solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians - those in the OPT, those inside Israel's '48 borders and those living in the diaspora. Such an approach, we believe, is shared these days by SAIA and BOYCOTT!, as well as an ever-increasing number of groups and individuals around the world.
We praise you on this practical approach, dealing with some of the most harmful companies which the Carleton pension fund is invested in, while not giving up on a long-term commitment to the July 2005 Palestinian call for BDS. Indeed, we should be sending a clear message to the government of Israel and its complicit institutions, stating no to normalization with Israel and no to carrying on with "business as usual" until Israel renounces its ethnically discriminative and immoral practices which violate the core of accepted humane behavior. Common people, organizations and governments of every country and ethnic group are now collaborating together in this growing global awareness movement. We affirm that such engagement in non-violent BDS tactics is far from being anti-Semitic and is, in fact, our foremost responsibility as human beings living in this land. Standing up for these values is the beginning of a true dialog.
It would only be fitting, days after passing away of the late Prof. Howard Zinn, a great scholar and humanist, to end with a quote from his "A Power Governments Cannot Suppress", p. 16:
"The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.
Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back."
Prof. Rachel Giora
Dr. David Nir
Emily Schaeffer, Adv.
Dr. Kobi Snitz
Dr. Dorothy Naor
On behalf of
BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within