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Letter of Thanks to Loyola University USGA

March 24th, 2014

On March 19, Loyola University Chicago became the first Jesuit University in the United States to pass a student government resolution to divest from companies complicit in aiding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Dear Members of the Loyola University Chicago Unified Student Government Association,  

As a coalition of more than 400 groups in the United States working for freedom, justice, and equality, we are writing to say thank you for passing a resolution to divest from corporations that profit from occupation and are complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. 

Every day Palestinians suffer ongoing displacement, discrimination, and exile as a consequence of Israel’s abusive policies. Whether it is Palestinians living under brutal military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or Palestinian refugees who cannot return to their lands because they have the wrong ethnic or religious background, or Palestinian citizens of Israel who face more than 50 laws enshrining their status as second-class citizens, Palestinians have been denied their rights and dignity by Israel for several decades.   

In 2005 more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups issued a call for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel and institutions complicit in its oppressive policies towards Palestinians until it complies with international law. With the failure of the U.S. government and international community to hold Israel accountable for its actions, BDS promotes time-honored and respected tactics used to achieve justice, including in the U.S. Civil Rights and South Africa Anti-Apartheid movements. 

In the past nine years, people of conscience worldwide, especially students, have responded to the Palestinian call for action by pursuing local BDS campaigns. Campuses have been at the forefront of social justice struggles throughout history, even when doing so was unpopular. We are inspired to see you continuing this legacy at Loyola by taking a stand and demanding that your university not invest in those companies unwilling to end their involvement in Israel's ongoing violations of Palestinians’ basic rights. 

As with all social justice movements, there will be those who oppose your efforts by accusing you of being divisive and pushing for the need to be neutral. There is no “not taking a side” in this situation: there is the side of justice and the status quo of injustice. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

In its mission statement, Loyola refers to its Jesuit Catholic tradition when speaking of its "profound commitment" to issues of social responsibility and justice. It goes on to claim: "Our students must have an educated awareness of society and culture, a sense of being interrelated and interconnected, and a commitment to act for the rights of others, especially the disadvantaged and the oppressed."

We applaud your efforts to ensure that your university lives up to its mission. We urge you to remain steadfast in your decision to pass this divestment resolution in support of Palestinian rights, and we want you to know that we stand with you.  

Sincerely, 

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation 

PDF of letter here.