As part of the build-up to the International Day of Action taking place this Wednesday, 25 prominent academics have signed an open letter to universities worldwide to divest for Palestine.
The open letter has been coordinated by friends of Al-Aqsa (FOA) and a coalition of university student societies across the UK. Signatories include Professor Gilbert Achcar (SOAS), Professor Ilan Pappe (Exeter), Professor Robin D. G. Kelley (UCLA), Professor Emerita Caroline Rooney (Kent) and Professor Mohamed El-Gomati OBE (York). The letter has also been signed by prominent Palestinian activist Mohammed El-Kurd.
This Wednesday, students at universities across the world will hold demonstrations on campus and email their Vice-Chancellors calling for a full withdrawal of investments in companies complicit in the illegal occupation of Palestine.
The Full Letter:
As scholars from across the world, we call on our institutions to divest for Palestine.
In the last few weeks, we have seen boycotts, divestment from and sanctions on Russia for its invasion and occupation of Ukraine. Individuals and companies have boycotted Russian goods, and governments have imposed extensive sanctions on Russia in response to its actions.
We have witnessed what is possible when individuals, companies and governments unite against those who violate international law.
Palestine has been under Israeli occupation for decades. Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are widely recognized as illegal under international law and have been condemned by the United Nations. Israel also has a long history of committing war crimes, from devastation beyond military necessity during the Nakba of 1948 to its ongoing ill-treatment, torture, and murder of Palestinians living under occupation.
Despite this, universities around the world continue to invest in companies complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine. These include, but are not limited to, Rolls-Royce PLC, BAE Systems, HP (Hewlett Packard), Booking.com and Expedia. British universities, for example, hold investments of around £450m in companies complicit in the occupation.
There is now a consensus among leading international human rights organizations that Israel is an apartheid state, as Palestinians have said for decades. Last month Amnesty International published a 280-page report on this, building on a similar report by Human Rights Watch in April 2021.
We call on our institutions to take action and divest for Palestine. We have now seen what can be achieved when we unite against those who break international law, and we must do the same for Palestine.