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Unity of the Left: A Call to Action from SJP by Alix

November 19, 2010

Unfortunately, one of the greatest problems faced by the left (and what I view as one of the left’s greatest barriers to revolution) is that we have a history of being factional and divided. Although different organizations may have a varied array of specific goals they are working towards, all of those things, for the most part, stem from the same issues in our society. It is for this reason that we should all stand in solidarity with each other’s efforts. The USC campus organization, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has taken on a challenging and important campaign this semester and needs all of your support.

The group, Californians Committed to Peace & Justice in Palestine-Israel has launched the Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC). In short, different supportive organizations statewide are helping to collect signatures to place this initiative on the California ballot for the next elections to occur after March 2011. A minimum 434,000 signatures are required for the initiative to qualify to appear on the ballot.

Groups are collectively aiming to find 500,000 signatories in order to account for possible invalid signatures. USC SJP has decided to assist in this statewide endeavor by gathering signatures on campus. The minimum 434,000 signatures must be collected by January 31st 2011.

A quick summary of the initiative is that it is the first time that concerned citizens directly approach voters, asking them to hold Israel accountable for committing what U.N. fact-finding missions have deemed to be violations of international law and human rights. While this particular initiative relates to California voters, it falls alongside the larger international movement of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) towards Apartheid Israel. This is a non-violent tactical approach that was used to fight apartheid in South Africa and is now being used in Palestine-Israel to fight occupation, apartheid, and condemn human rights violations and atrocities that are taking place there.

The act itself will essentially prevent two publicly funded retirement accounts CalPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System) and CalSTRS (California State Teachers’ Retirement System) from having investments or from making any new investments in firms that do business related to the construction of illegal settlements, the construction of the Separation Wall or provide military supplies and services to Israel.

The question this poses to voters is: would you like your tax dollars to support continued violation of international law and human rights or not?

Those opposed to divestment, not just in this instant but also via the larger BDS movement, claim that it is biased and is trying to “hurt” Israel. Please understand that BDS does not intend to harm anyone. The purpose of BDS is to serve as an international wake-up call to Israel—a workable analogy might be to think of a child that has been placed in “time out.” Through divestment, global civil society (or more specifically in this case, California) is saying to Israel “We will not do business with you until you’re ready to cooperate with international conventions and affirm the human rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.” This is essentially the same logic used by adults trying to reason with a stubborn child, “We’ll talk to you when you’re ready to listen and cooperate.”

Given this is an issue of contention, remember that the status quo investments in Israel are biased against the Palestinians. Divestment is fiscally neutral; money is neither being invested in Israel nor in Palestine. That’s not to say that Palestinians don’t need to be invested in, just that any arguments against divestment on the grounds of it being “biased against Israel” are false.

Divest your tax dollars from Israel and invest your vote in human rights.

 

A list of endorsements, petition resources, full text of the initiative and further details including justification for divestment and what “divestment,” as defined by this act, will entail are available at:

http://www.israeldivestmentcampaign.org

 

If you wish to volunteer to help collect signatures through USC SJP, please contact

Alix: rfalexan@usc.edu or Marwa: katbi@usc.edu

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