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Students for Justice in Palestine at Hampshire College

Post-Divestment Celebration

In February 2009, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) reported that the Board of Trustees at Hampshire College approved the vote to divest from five U.S. corporations involved in the Israeli military occupation, vindicating the work of the student group pressuring the college to divest.

According to SJP, their campaign succeeded in getting the college’s Board of Trustees to approve the vote to divest from five US corporations identified by SJP as being complicit in the Israeli occupation. These companies included Caterpillar, Motorola, ITT Technology, General Electric, and Terex. The campaign was initiated in fall 2007 using the research of the United Methodist Church, which identified 20 American corporations that directly profit from or support the Israeli occupation by providing technology, bulldozers, or military supplies to the Israeli military to maintain the occupation and expand settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. SJP had also identified United Technologies as a corporation in their investment portfolio that was involved in the occupation, however it was removed from the targeted mutual fund, a State Street Global Advisers fund, before divestment was passed.

The moment that SJP announced the divestment decision, the college administrators tried to deny its political implications. . The college’s Board of Trustees hired a private firm, KLD Research & Analytics, to investigate Hampshire's investments using their own screen of socially-responsible investment. They ultimately identified over 200 companies from which the college should divest for reasons unrelated to Israel’s military occupation, despite that being the initial impetus for divestment.

SJP still claims victory for their divestment campaign because the college did divest from the mutual fund which contained the corporations involved in the occupation, therefore ending Hampshire’s investment in companies profiting from the occupation. This divestment was the result of SJP’s campaign to divest the college from the Israeli occupation and is a major victory for the BDS movement in the U.S.

Hampshire’s divestment from the occupation is not the end of the story. As with the student movement for boycott and divestment protesting South African apartheid, Hampshire is just the beginning. Hampshire SJP is now working with students groups across the country who, inspired by SJP’s success, are launching their own boycott and divestment campaigns. Hampshire SJP is also working with the US Campaign to solidify a national Boycott and Divestment movement.

For more information about Hampshire SJP's campaign, where they are now, or how to get in touch with them, visit their website at www.hsjp.org