Growing Support for University of Toronto Divestment Campaign

In a powerful endorsement of the Campaign for Divestment from the Israeli occupation organized by University of Toronto’s Graduate Student Union, a group of over 130 faculty and librarians have signed a public declaration calling for the UniScreen Shot 2016-03-08 at 11.54.10 AMversity of Toronto to divest from its holdings in companies profiting from the ongoing Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories.

The signatories come from all three campuses of the University of Toronto and from over 38 different departments across all faculties. The statement emphasizes the near total failure of international diplomacy to hold Israel accountable for the growing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The signatories insist, at a minimum, on the need to “identify the injustices, speak out against them, and support the Palestinian appeal for solidarity.”  Read the declaration below.The declaration urges the University administration to divest specifically from Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard, and Lockheed Martin, in order to send an important signal to the global military industrial complex that the University of Toronto takes seriously its own stated ethical principles and refuses to be complicit in the escalating violations of human rights in Israel-Palestine.

As reported in The Varsity, the University of Toronto’s student newspaper, “The BDS movement is fundamentally concerned with achieving three core goals: bringing about the end of Israeli military occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, ensuring equal legal status for Arab-Palestinians living in Israel, and enforcing Palestinian refugees established right of return. This release comes two weeks after the House of Commons voted in favour of a motion to condemn the BDS movement.”

At a time when the Canadian and other governments are working to criminalize calls to apply international law and universal human rights to Israel-Palestine, the Graduate Student Union, Faculty and Librarians at the University of Toronto has refused to be intimidated and will express their solidarity with Palestinians.

For a detailed analysis of the divestment movement on Canadian campuses and the Trudeau government’s attempt to silence BDS activism, see David Palumbo-Liu’s article for Huffington Post.


 

Declaration of Faculty and Librarians in Support of the GSU Campaign for Divestment from the Israeli Occupation

We, the undersigned faculty and librarians at the University of Toronto, declare our support for the Graduate Student Union’s petition for the University of Toronto to divest its holdings in companies directly profiting from the ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territories (http://www.uoftdivest.com/sign-the-petition.html). We are compelled to take this position out of dismay at the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Given the long-term failure of diplomacy alone to address the rapidly deteriorating situation of Palestinians, it is imperative to take further action. We must identify the injustices, speak out against them, and support the Palestinian appeal for solidarity.
As the atrocities escalate, there has been a groundswell of international support in recent years for divestment from companies directly implicated in the Israeli occupation. A broad array of civil society organizations, both in Canada and internationally, have already taken divestment actions, including churches, trade unions, student associations, financial institutions, and others.[1] As the South African case proved, international pressure is crucial and has tangible impact. Our support for divestment conveys our conviction that Israel must be pressured to respect human rights and to conform to international law.

In light of the above, and in line with our university’s own Policy on Social and Political Issues with Respect to University Divestment,[2] we join the students, administrative staff, and alumni who are petitioning the university to divest its shares in three companies: Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard, and Lockheed Martin.[3] These three companies have been singled out because they manufacture and sell weaponry and other technologies that are being used to destroy Palestinian lives and welfare on a daily basis. As has been amply demonstrated,[4] these companies continue to be actively involved in the escalating violations of international law and in the intensifying abuse of human rights in the territories occupied by Israel. By investing in these companies, the University of Toronto not only betrays its own stated ethical principles, but becomes complicit in these violations. We too are complicit if we remain silent.

We therefore join the GSU’s demand that the University of Toronto:
1) immediately divest its stock in Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard and Lockheed Martin;
2) form a committee of Governing Council to review all companies involved in violations of international law around the world; and
3) refrain from investing in all companies involved in such violations of international law.

 

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