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Letter of Support for ASU Divestment

April 9th, 2014

Students for Justice in Palestine at Arizona State University (ASU) are pushing their student senate to pass a resolution calling on ASU to divest from Caterpillar for its complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights. The bill was tabled indefinitely in March 2014 with no discussion prior. 

Dear Arizona State University Student Senators, 

As a national coalition of more than 400 groups around the country that support freedom, justice and equality for all, we are writing to urge you to consider and pass a resolution calling on your university to divest from Caterpillar, a U.S. company that is complicit in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. 

Caterpillar bulldozers are one of the most destructive weapons Israel utilizes to maintain its military occupation. These machines are used daily to demolish Palestinian homes, uproot Palestinian olive trees, build illegal Jewish-only settlements on stolen Palestinian lands, and construct the apartheid wall. Since 1967 more than 25,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed and estimated 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted, which is equal to 33 Central Parks. On March 16, 2003, 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie was run over and killed by a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer as she was trying to protect a Palestinian home from being demolished while the family was inside.

People of conscience worldwide, including its own shareholders, have called upon Caterpillar to live up to its Code of Business Conduct, which states, "Caterpillar accepts the responsibilities of global citizenship. Wherever we conduct business or invest our resources around the world, we know that our commitment to financial success must also take into account social priorities." But despite years of engagement, Caterpillar refuses to end its involvement in these brutal and ongoing violations of Palestinians’ basic rights, choosing to instead continue to profit from military occupation and violations of international law.  

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 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. 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. The fact is that refusing to divest is in itself a political stance in support of human rights abuses. There is no “not taking a side” in this situation: there is the side of justice and the status quo of injustice. Those working for Palestinian rights are not the ones singling out Israel. It is the U.S. government that singles Israel out by funding its occupation and apartheid with billions of dollars in military aid annually. It is university student governments that single Israel out when they pass resolutions about fossil fuels, the prison industrial complex, and human rights abuses in other countries but decline to take up Israel’s very clearly documented violations of international law. 

Two years ago this same student body unanimously passed a bill demanding that ASU divest from and blacklist companies that continue to provide the Israeli Defense Force with weapons and militarized equipment or are complicit with the genocidal regime in Darfur. Caterpillar was one of the companies included in that resolution. 

Two years later, Israel is still using Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy Palestinian infrastructure, and build illegal settlements. In its vision statement, ASU seeks to establish itself as a “New American University” that pursues the public good. You have a responsibility to ensure your school lives up to its values. We urge you to take a stand against injustice by passing a resolution calling for ASU to divest from Caterpillar. 

Sincerely, 

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a national coalition working to end all U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid policies towards Palestinians. 

Endorsed by:

  1. Albany-Corvallis Friends of Middle East Peace (OR)
  2. Benedictine University (Lisle, IL)
  3. Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition (PA)
  4. Citizens for Palestinian Self Determination (Lincoln, NE)
  5. CODEPINK Maine 
  6. Committee for Justice in Palestine at The Ohio State University
  7. Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism (NY)
  8. Committee for Palestinian Rights (Columbia, MD)
  9. CUNY Law Students for Justice in Palestine (NY)
  10. Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network 
  11. Free Palestine Movement
  12. Friends of Palestine Wisconsin 
  13. Friends of Sabeel- North America 
  14. Friends of Sabeel- Colorado 
  15. Interdenominational Advocates for Peace (Ann Arbor, MI)
  16. International Solidarity Movement- Northern California
  17. Jewish Voice for Peace- Bay Area Chapter
  18. John Jay College Student for Justice in Palestine (NY)
  19. Jewish Voice for Peace- Boston
  20. Jewish Voice for Peace-Westchester (NY)
  21. Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land (OR)
  22. Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (WI)
  23. Maine BDS Coalition
  24. Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights
  25. Middle East Children's Alliance (Berkeley, CA) 
  26. Mideast Committee of Women Against Military Madness (Minneapolis, MN)
  27. Minnesota Break the Bonds Camp
  28. New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership 
  29. North Texas BDS
  30. Northwest BDS Coalition (Seattle, WA)
  31. Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County (Grass Valley, CA)
  32. Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (Vienna, VA)
  33. PINK LADIES (Phoenix, AZ) 
  34. Red Wing Alliance for Peace (MN)
  35. Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College (NY)
  36. Students for Justice in Palestine at City College (NY)
  37. Students for Justice in Palestine at the College of Staten Island (NY)
  38. United Methodist Task Force on Peace with Justice in Palestine/Israel of UNY Conference (NY)
  39. United Methodist Kairos Response 
  40. United Methodists' Holy Land Task Force (Culver City, CA)
  41. Vancouver for Peace (WA)
  42. Voices for Palestine (Bryn Mawr, PA)
  43. Wespac Foundation (White Plains, NY)
  44. WI Middle East Lobby Group
PDF of letter here.