Friday, March 13, 2009

Divestment, against Apartheid Israel, is debated at University of Mississippi, and at Temple University.

"ASB defeats motion to remove investment"

9 March 2009

By Tim Summers
Assistant News Editor,


After more than two hours of debate, the ASB senate voted not to pass a resolution that would withdraw the university’s investment funds from companies which sell arms to the Israeli military Monday night.

Resolution 09-05 was defeated by a vote of 19-11, with seven abstaining.

The Campus Anti-War Network (CAN) set up a table in front of the Student Union before the meeting in order to educate students and gather more signatures for their petition related to divestment.

“Our purpose was to just make ourselves visible,” CAN president, ASB senator from the graduate school and author of Resolution 09-05 Dan Blazo explained before the meeting. “We intend to keep the petition going no matter what happens.”

The text of the resolution stated that its purpose was to recognize the “social responsibility as pertaining to financial investment … resolving to modify the investment portfolio held by the University of Mississippi … by divesting university funds from those companies and corporations that currently provide arms for the Israeli military.”

At the 7 p.m. weekly ASB meeting in the Student Union, Blazo and three guest speakers began the discussion by introducing the resolution and stating why each believed the resolution should pass. The speakers were Griffith Brownlee, an English instructor at Ole Miss; Ceylon Mooney from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM); and Andrew Stachiw, president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SPJ) of Hampshire College in Massachusetts.

Brownlee, a former marine, encouraged the senate to approach the situation from an anti-war standpoint.

“War is a business, but not a good business,” Brownlee said. “When you take a side in a conflict, what you do is create an imbalance and that imbalance keeps the conflict from resolving itself.”

Mooney, who had just returned from the West Bank, expressed the importance of divesting in the prevention of Israeli aggression toward Palestinians.

“Let’s pull the batteries out of this stupid, bloody Energizer bunny,” Mooney said. “I think that there is more to consider than business.”

Stachiw explained this movement as related to the one at his home college, which passed a divestment resolution. He also compared divestment to the admittance of James Meredith and apartheid.

“We have a responsibility to act,” Stachiw said.

The discussion concerning the resolution among the senators revolved around the impact of the divestment on the financial security of the university, the perceived position of the university as a result of the resolution and the amount of student awareness and investment in the controversy. For a moment before the discussion began, the removal of all other parties including media representatives (besides the senators present) was put forward, but the motion received little support and was abandoned.

The common consensus was that the level of student awareness would have to increase in order for the senate to pass the resolution.

“To make a voice have impact, you need about 25 percent,” Sen. Sarah Bransford said. “To really speak for the student populace, you need people to say ‘This is why we did this, and these are the steps we took.’ This requires not just 50 people and not just 600.”

Blazo remains confident despite the vote.

“I am encouraged by the results of the meeting tonight,” Blazo said in a phone interview. “Many of these senators have expressed open-mindedness, and we hope to open the minds of the remaining ones.”



  • brian said:

    This is the only article in your school’s newspaper that does not attack the peaceful intentions of the divestment campaign on your campus. The university is the hub for every generation’s contributions to social justice, yet your school seems to attack efforts for social advancement! This troubles me to see.

    Before long, many people will return to this article in the site archives to recall how the Israeli Arms divestment movement began in the US. This campaign is spreading like wildfire across your country. Here in the UK it is well underway, with several successful university divestment campaigns (including the London School of Economics, as of last week) and dozens more underway. In the States it is just beginning, but has already shown every sign of success imaginable over the past three months.

    Best of luck, mates. They’ll come around with more education about the atrocities of the Palestine Occupation.


  • ASB defeats motion to remove investment « U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel said:

    [...] March 12, 2009 ASB defeats motion to remove investment Posted by marcy/مارسي newman/نيومان under Divestment, Student Organizing, U.S. Academica 9 March 2009 | The Daily Mississippian [...]

  • Eddie said:

    11 votes out of 30 in favor of divestment? not bad! the SEC really is coming around!

  • Alex Nelson said:


    It’s actually 11 votes out of 37 who were present, there are also 11 other Senators who were not in the chamber for the vote.

  • Eddie said:

    alex, if people don’t want to be counted then i won’t count them (the seven who didn’t vote). but why were eleven senators missing? was it some kind of boycott? or was the meeting during happy hour?

  • Alex Nelson said:

    From what I can remember, there were four-six absent from all the meeting, four on bathroom break, and one-three gone to other meetings due to the length of debate.

    But there were 37 at the meeting, and only 11 out of 48 members supported the resolution. Do try not to misrepresent the facts.

  • Eddie said:

    only 19 of 48 voted against it. do try not to be a prick.


"ASB Senate Recap: Online Exclusive

March 9, 2009

By John Mark Busby
Senior Staff Reporter


"During the Associated Student Body senate’s weekly meeting on Monday, they failed on one resolution, passed another resolution and passed nine bills with unanimous consent. Most of the two hour meeting was spent debating Senate Resolution 09-05, which was presented by Sen. Dan Blazo, requesting the divestment of university funds from mutual funds, which in some way help the Israeli government and their illegal war with Palestinians....



Letter to the Editor,


March 12, 2009

To the editor:

Thank you for exhibiting fairness and respect in your opinion piece in Tuesday’s paper, “A Policy of Responsibility.” Your comments on the divestment campaign are constructive and insightful and I appreciate your open-mindedness.

As author of Resolution 09-05, I assure you that “singling out Israel” has never been my intention. The Palestine/Israel conflict has endured atrocious acts of violence from both Hamas and the Israeli government.

These injustices are counterproductive to peacemaking efforts on both sides of the conflict. The vast majority of the UN Security Council and Human Rights Commission – along with Amnesty International and nearly all other human rights organizations – have declared the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land to be illegal under international laws.

Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela consistently refer to the Palestinian territories as “apartheid” societies and encourage divestment from Israeli arms suppliers.

Ole Miss is not invested in any corporations who provide weaponry to Hamas. Although I agree with you that our investment policy should not support any military force that violates human rights laws, I insist that the lack of international pressure on the entities in violation of these laws makes the Israeli military the most appropriate place to begin.

We must uphold the international laws designed to protect innocent civilians during times of violence if we are to exhibit consistency in our own principles.

We must bring attention to the injustices perpetrated upon the Palestinian people in order to help ease their suffering.

Dan Blazo
ASB senator, CAN president
Political science
Graduate Student


At Temple University:

"No business with apartheid Israel"

A divestment teach-in at Temple University on March 5 put technology to use for Palestine as students here spoke directly with students from the Hampshire College divestment movement in Massachusetts through the power of Skype, an Internet telephone program.

Temple Students for Justice in Palestine hosted the teach-in as part of Boycott Israeli Apartheid week. The panel featured Godfrey Sithole, a member of the African National Congress and veteran of the 1980s movement to divest from South Africa, and Adam Horowitz from the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation of Palestine.

The teach-in was held to reignite a divestment campaign at Temple. It was part of a week of actions that included banner droppings and a protest urging people to “hang up on Motorola” for its complicity in Israel’s human rights violations and military occupation.

Horowitz described the three components of the BDS movement—boycott, divest, sanctions—that is gaining momentum internationally, especially since Israel’s brutal war on Gaza. He explained that the divestment movement must be seen as a tactic in a broader solidarity struggle.

The BDS movement encourages student groups, unions, religious and community organizations to identify ways in which the institutions they are connected with are complicit in Israel’s occupation and wars against the Palestinian people.

The movement against Israeli apartheid borrows from the success of the earlier struggle to weaken apartheid in South Africa through similar tactics. Sithole, who in the 1980s led the movement in Philadelphia to divest from South Africa, stated: “The highlight of that campaign was when people could see the atrocities committed in South Africa. It’s a pity to have to revisit an issue we thought we’d never have to go back to.”

Sithole compared apartheid in South Africa, where racial divisions and inequities were used to enforce policies that benefited the whites in power, to the situation in Israel and occupied Palestine today, where similar racist laws and policies are used to consistently deny rights to Palestinians and Arab people in Israel.

“When you see laws similar to what Hitler used against Jewish people, it’s so hard to see the same people who faced the atrocities of Nazi Germany doing this to other people,” Sithole said. “Apartheid in South Africa also copied some of the same laws that were enforced by the Nazis. It’s an issue of control—passbooks in South Africa, checkpoints in Palestine.”

Sithole referred to a recent “60 Minutes” segment that showed Israeli soldiers occupying a Palestinian home in Gaza and controlling when family members could come and go. The soldiers let the children leave for school but refused to let them come home, making the departure of the television crew a condition for their return.

“Bit by bit the international solidarity movement is rising up and it will make a difference,” said Sithole. “Two weeks ago dockworkers in South Africa took a bold step and refused to unload ships from Israel. We were once the ones isolated—called terrorists—but the solidarity we saw with South Africa gave us hope.”

Hampshire students Brian Van Slyke and Jay Cassano from Students for Justice in Palestine joined the program through a Skype hook-up that allowed them to have an open discussion with the Philadelphia audience. Hampshire College was the first college to divest from South Africa in the 1970s and the first campus to protest the war in Afghanistan in 2001. When the Palestinian Civil Society issued a call for divestment from Israel several years ago, students felt they had to live up to that history.

Van Slyke and Cassano described the struggle to get Hampshire’s Board of Trustees subcommittee on responsible investment to finally respond to student pressure earlier this year. First they identified corporations—including Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT, Motorola and Terex—that Hampshire had investments in and that were linked to Israel.

SJP showed films, sponsored faculty panels, built a mock wall on campus and set up checkpoints to raise student awareness and participation over the two-year campaign. “You can’t be passive about the issue,” Van Slyke noted. “Otherwise people will brush you off.”

Both pointed out that although Hampshire divested from South Africa in 1977, there was almost a 10-year gap before other schools followed suit. But by 1988 more than 150 institutions had divested. Already students at the University of Mississippi, the University of Rochester and the University of Massachusetts have taken on similar campaigns to divest from Israeli apartheid.