Student Success Israeli Divestment

Hampshire College Becomes First U.S. University to Divest from Israeli Occupation


Hampshire Students for Justice in Palestine

February 12, 2009 | Posted in



[Editor's Note] Since July 2005, a coalition of Palestinian groups has called on  "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era". On Feb. 7, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts became the first U.S. institution of higher learning to divest in companies that directly profit from Israel’s rule over the Occupied Territories. Below is a press release that went out earlier today from Students for Justice In Palestine, a campus group that led the divestment effort. 





Hampshire College becomes first college in U.S. to divest from Israeli



Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, has become the first of any college or

university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement

in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


This landmark move is a direct result of a two-year intensive campaign by the

campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The group pressured

Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to

human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. Over 800 students, professors, and

alumni have signed SJP’s "institutional statement" calling for the divestment.


The proposal put forth by SJP was approved on Saturday, 7 Feb 2009 by the Board.

By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced

itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel.

Meeting minutes from a committee of Hampshire’s Board of Trustees confirm that

"President Hexter acknowledged that it was the good work of SJP that brought this

issue to the attention of the committee."


This groundbreaking decision follows in Hampshire’s history of being the first college in the country to divest from

apartheid South Africa thirty-two years ago, a decision based on similar human

rights concerns. This divestment was also a direct result of student pressure.

The divestment has so far been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Rashid

Khalidi, Vice President of the EU Parliament Luisa Morganitini, Cynthia McKinney,

former member of the African National Congress Ronnie Kasrils, Mustafa Barghouti,

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, John Berger, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, and

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, among others.


The six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli military with equipment and

services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza are: Caterpillar, United Technologies,

General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola, and Terex (see attached info sheet for

more information on these corporations.) Furthermore, our policy prevents the

reinvestment in any company involved in the illegal occupation.


SJP is responding to a call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment,

and Sanctions (BDS) as a way of bringing non-violent pressure to bear on the state of

Israel to end its violations of international law. SJP is following in the footsteps of

many noted groups and institutions such as the National Association of Teachers in

Further and Higher Education in the UK, the Israeli group Gush Shalom, the

Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees,

and the American Friends Service Committee.


As well as voicing our opposition to the illegal occupation and the consistent human

rights violations of the Palestinian people, we as members of an institute of higher

education see it as our moral responsibility to express our solidarity with

Palestinian students whose access to education is severely inhibited by the Israeli



SJP has proven that student groups can organize, rally and pressure their schools to

divest from the illegal occupation. The group hopes that this decision will pave the

way for other institutions of higher learning in the U.S. to take similar stands.


Please email [email protected] to schedule a phone interview.

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