Student groups nationally and internationally are using divestment as a major campaign strategy in their efforts to pressure Israel to end the Occupation of Palestinian Territory. Divestment can be defined as the removal of stock investments from companies and businesses that have unfavorable practices: in this case, funding the military occupation of Palestine and/or doing business with Israel. The main purpose of the divestment movement is to create wide spread pressure on the Israeli government through pressure on corporations. If companies stop operating in Israel, Israel will be forced to bow to pressure and change their policies.
The Israeli economy is in the midst of its own recession and the Israeli government is in significant debt; it is unlikely that they have their own funds to pay for the Walls' construction costs. The Wall's estimated cost is 4.7 million dollars per/km with an estimated final cost of 3.4 billion dollars. (Report, OCHA, November 12, 2003)
In July 2003 George W. Bush and Colin Powel stated that they believed that the Wall was a roadblock to peace. They committed to reducing the amount of annual aid given to Israel by the amount it spends on settlements, but have yet to be good on this promise.
Divestment, as a political strategy, was popularized in the South African anti-Apartheid struggles of the 1980's. As in today's student divestment movement, there were different strategies that students were utilizing in order to demand that their institutions divest. There is no one method to starting a divestment campaign on your campus. Think about what your campus needs and how effective you will be in reaching your goals. Student divestment petitions demand their educational institutions remove investments from companies that are doing business in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or those companies that are sustaining the occupation through military means. (See Appendix for Sample Petitions)
We can see the Wall to be an essential part of a divestment campaign. Making direct connections between the Occupation and the Wall will become an accessible way for students and administrators to understand the goals of your divestment campaign. This focus on the Wall will both advance your divestment work as well as campaigns that target the Wall specifically.
To learn more about different types of divestment campaigns, check out:
www.divest-from-israel-campaign.org General Information and Links about the Divestment Movement
www.oberlin.edu/stuorg/sfp Oberlin College Military Divestment Petition
www.studentsforjusticeinpalestine.org University of California Divestment Petition
www.yaledivestnow.org Yale University Divestment Petition
www.uofidivest.org University of Illinois Divestment Petition and Comprehensive Background on their Campaign
www.globalexchange.org Provides a toolkit for starting a divestment campaign on your campus or in your community