Why Divest?

The Rebels Resisting Apartheid divestment campaign is founded upon the notion of promoting human rights for all human beings.  Although this campaign is part of an international social movement, it has the potential to blaze the trail for other universities in the US by making Ole Miss the first public university in the nation to divest from apartheid in Palestine.  This would speak volumes for the social advancements of Mississippi and could help a great deal in launching an influential university divestment campaign across the country.

Ole Miss is an excellent university for the nationwide campaign to flourish, for its campus has a well-known history with institutional apartheid.  The desegregation of Ole Miss, as initiated by the courageous deeds of James Meredith in 1962, has played an integral role in making the University of Mississippi the renowned academic institution it is today.  The students of Rebels Resisting Apartheid seek to tell the story of how resisting and defeating apartheid has vindicated the historic struggle in their own community.

You may be wondering: why this particular human rights issue (Israel/Palestine)?  This is a valid question, given the abundance of inhumane government activities across the world.  David Skrbina and William Thomson of the University of Michigan provide a robust answer to this question, which helped inspire RRA members to focus their efforts on this conflict:

“Given that there are many human rights abuses around the world, why pick this particular issue? There are many reasons: (a) No other conflict is so directly sustained by the products and services of U.S. corporations – corporations of which the University is part-owner. (b) This conflict is the one with the greatest global consequence, since it has been an important factor in both Gulf wars, the Sept. 11 attacks and the war on terror. (c) This conflict has involved more people, over a longer period of time, than any other. “

Brief Outline of Justifications for Divestment:

  • The Ole Miss Creed advocates “fairness and civility,” “academic freedom,” and “good stewardship of our resources.”
  • The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance claims commitment to “Creating a climate of caring,” and, “modeling the values of trust, respect, and dignity.”
  • Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, and Al-Haq; the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and numerous NGOs have documented serious and widespread violations of international law and the human rights of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces operating in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 USC section 2304, provides that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
  • The UN Human Rights Council’s January 2008 report: Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories, declares:
    “Unfortunately, Israel has not taken steps to dismantle the infrastructure of Occupation. On the contrary, it has maintained and expanded the instruments that most seriously violate human rights – military incursions, settlements, the separation wall, restrictions on freedom of movement, the Judaization of Jerusalem, and the demolition of houses.”
  • Ole Miss is invested in nine companies that unambiguously assist the military practices which violate international human right laws.  We therefore call for divestment from those corporations that profit by means of perpetuating human rights abuses in the Israel/Palestine conflict.  Although the University of Mississippi is not currently invested in any corporations who supply arms to Hamas, our call is for a semi-permanent investment screen to ensure that neither Hamas nor the Israeli military be bolstered by University funds.  The screen we propose will last for the duration of these corporations’ participation in human rights violations.

Corporations Targeted for Divestment:

 

  • Boeing produces the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter, used by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians. Some of the other Boeing weapons in Israel’s arsenal include other helicopters, fighter planes, and missiles. Israel owns 98 Boeing F-15 Eagle jets, each costing $38 million.
  • Caterpillar continues to sell armored bulldozers—used to demolish Palestinian homes and uproot olive trees—to the Israeli military.
  • General Dynamics manufactures the 20mm guns for Israel’s F-16 jets and has supplied Israel with approximately one thousand M60A3 Main Battle Tanks.
  • General Electric manufactures and sells the engines for Apache Helicopters sold to the Israeli military.
  • Lockheed Martin manufactures the Patriot Missile and the F-16 Fighting Falcon jet, the latter of which Israel military possesses 237, each costing $34.3 million.
  • Northrop Grumman manufactures and sells radar and weapons systems of diverse specifications and functions for the Israeli military.
  • Oshkosh Truck Corporation produces tactical military trucks for the Israeli military.
  • Raytheon produces a number of missiles used by the Israel military against the Palestinians, including the AGM 65 Maverick, Patriot, and AIM 9 Sidewinder.
  • United Technologies, through a subsidiary—Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, produces the Blackhawk Helicopter and the CH-53D Sea Stallion Helicopter, and Sikorsky President Dean Borgman declared in a February 1, 2001 press release: “Our company’s relationship of more than 40 years with Israel is a source of pride,” while announcing that his firm was awarded a $211.8 million contract with the Israeli Air Force.

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