UC Must Divest From Israel

Noura Erakat, Yasmin Madadi and Nadia Barhoum are UC Berkeley students. Respond at [email protected]

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In 1985, the UC Regents decided to divest from apartheid South Africa. They ceased stock purchases from corporations supporting the apartheid government. The regents threatened to sell stocks having anything to do with South Africa. The decision came at the behest of student activists. Students called out apartheid for its racist, backward and morally incomprehensible nature.

They protested the subjugation of black South Africans to separate laws, random searches by police, the threat of incarceration without cause or trial thereafter and travel restrictions in the citizens' own neighborhoods. They protested Nelson Mandela's characterization of the African National Congress as a terrorist organization. Maybe this sounds familiar-all almost exactly describe the Palestinian experience.

In the last three years, Israel spent around $250 million on bypass roads through the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to give Jewish settlers access to their newly developed homes. Jewish settlements stand atop recently flattened Palestinian homes, schools and hospitals. Bypass roads give exclusive access to Jewish settlers to travel from Israel to their homes in Palestine. They fracture and asphyxiate Palestinian society and implement a series of checkpoints there. All to ensure settlers never have to look on Palestinian life under occupation.

To further entrench the concept of separation and subjugation, Israel is in the process of building an apartheid wall, known to their government as a "separation fence." It will stretch at least 600 kilometers and is 6 meters high. The Berlin Wall was 155 kilometers long and 3.6 meters high. This wall is beyond the line that divides Israel proper and the occupied West Bank. This is not only a separation fence, but a land grab. In the first phase of the wall's construction, 2 percent of the West Bank is to be de facto annexed to Israel.

In addition to bypass roads, settlements and the wall, the Israeli government imposes checkpoints and military bases throughout the occupied territories. It sends U.S.-supplied tear gas, missiles and bullets through Palestine. In 2002, Israel's military budget totaled $9.8 billion, 8.9 percent of their GDP-the United States spends only 3.1 percent. Israel's main arms supplier is the United States. Of the $3 billion of aid to Israel, $2.95 billion is earmarked for military spending. Israel also generates funds from international investments. The total of UC Regent investments in companies with subsidiaries in Israel worth $5 million or more is $7,182,195,067.

Our university should not profit from bloodshed. Our university should not invest in apartheid. In honor of the entrance into the 20th year that the UC Regents decided to divest from South Africa, let this be a call for students to join the struggle against the occupation of Palestine and demand the UC Regents divest from Israel.


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