Push for divestment from Israel met with resistance at Columbia University

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) speak on behalf of Columbia University Apartheid Divest on Mar 19, 2018. (photo: Columbia Spectator)

The presenters invoked Barnard and Columbia’s history of being the first colleges to divest from South African apartheid and more recently from private prison systems in the United States.

By Valentina Rojas-Posada | Columbia Spectator | Mar 20, 2018

“I believe that racism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism are evils upon this world. . . . It shouldn’t be how our college is investing it’s money — our money should be reflecting the values of Barnard students.”
— Caroline Oliver, Barnard College sophomore

Columbia-Barnard Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine urged Barnard’s Student Government Association to encourage the Barnard administration to boycott, divest, and sanction companies that profit from or contribute to the subjugation of Palestinian people at an SGA meeting on Monday night.

The groups that collectively launched the Columbia University Apartheid Divest campaign in 2016 requested to meet with SGA several weeks ago and were offered a time to speak. After the release of the SGA meeting’s agenda on Sunday, the executive board of Columbia/Barnard Hillel, a Jewish students group, encouraged its members to attend the meeting to ensure their viewpoint was also represented.

Over 150 students attended, both in support and in contention of the presentation for the “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” movement. . . .

The eight companies that students asked Barnard to divest from include manufacturing and construction companies such as CAT and Hyundai; aerospace and weaponry companies Boeing, Elbit Systems, and Lockheed Martin; information technology company Hewlett-Packard; Bank Hapoalim; and the Mekorot water company, which CUAD claims has a complete monopoly over water sources in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

According to SJP and JVP, these companies were selected because they each contribute to the oppression of Palestinians in Israel by destroying their homes, bombing their communities, categorizing and separating their people, and intentionally giving them less resources than Israelis.

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