A US Campaign coalition member, CU-Divest, is presenting a petition to the University of Colorado Board of Regents this month. This is one of many nationwide divestment campaigns, including the campaign against TIAA-CREF, which is chronicled here.
By Ida Audeh – Boulder, Colorado
In September, the University of Colorado Board of Regents will be presented with a petition urging it to remove from the university's stock portfolio all companies that profit from Israel's occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Launched by CU-Divest and signed by nearly 2,000 students and human rights activists, the petition states that the university's $1.7 billion investments "may violate the University's commitment to human rights and social justice."
Similar divestment campaigns are underway in dozens of campuses across the country, following the successful efforts of Hampshire College students in 2009. (The retirement plan giant TIAA-CREF is the focus of a separate national divestment campaign.)
In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call to the international community to apply boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it upholds international law and Palestinian rights. The appeal resonated with human rights activists who have been frustrated by their government's failure to pressure Israel to stop its human rights violations of Palestinians.
The U.S. divestment campaign has been modeled very deliberately on campaigns that targeted investment in South Africa apartheid during the 1980s. The two countries, Israel and the former South Africa, are remarkably similar in their treatment of populations they define as undesirable (Palestinians and black South Africans, respectively).