Widgets Magazine


Why I care about Israel’s occupation of Palestine

From my writing and activism over the past few weeks, some students have asked why I am so interested in the illegal American-Israeli occupation of Palestine.

It seems as though it is weird for me to be concerned about the international human rights conflict in which I am most heavily implicated — both as an American citizen and as a Stanford student.

Underlying the American-Israeli occupation of Palestine are issues of grave importance to me:

State, police and military surveillance and control of marginalized people and dissenting voices; the immorality of global markets where multinational companies profit off of human rights violations at home and abroad without accountability; and a future where marginalized people of any background do not have to worry about discrimination, persecution and dehumanization at the hand of the nation-state or corporations.

As a member of the African diaspora I have a direct connection to all of these issues.

The mothers of the mothers of my mothers were torn away from their lands, cut off from their languages, histories and cultures to become “tools” and “things” on this soil — all in the interest of economically supporting a growing “democracy.”

The fathers of the fathers of my fathers have been controlled by state-sanctioned fear and police brutality since they were first forcibly taken here — first as runaway slaves, then as Emmett Till and now as Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Trayvon Martin — all in the interest of maintaining the economic, political and social order of this nation.

Throughout American history, blacks seeking equal rights or liberation have been labeled “agitators,” “criminals,” “militants,” “combatants” and “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States,” all for demanding to be treated like any other human.

The story of America building itself off the backs of my ancestors runs parallel to the history of dehumanization, criminalization and military-state control that Native Americans have experienced–as does this country’s historical amnesia about the past and present racial injustice our communities have experienced.

Coming from this background, I feel compelled to speak out against similar forms of oppression this state perpetrates against other minority groups. I feel especially compelled to speak when the nation that supports Israel’s right to defend itself against an oppressed minority group has always predicated its success upon the oppression of some minority group.

Palestinian Land Loss 1946-2000 Native American Land Loss 1850-1990

Just as this state has justified oppressive policies by blanket-labeling Native Americans “savages,” blacks “subhuman,” the Japanese “enemies,” undocumented migrants “illegal,” and anyone brown and non-Judeo-Christian “terrorist,” so too is the state of Israel justifying its dehumanization, oppression and murder of Palestinians by blanket-labeling a population of 1.7 million people “combatants” or “collateral” in the pursuit of said “militants.”

The 34 children and 13 women Israeli forces killed last week were not terrorists. The 970 civilians Israeli forces injured last week are not terrorists.

The only way states have been able to justify the denial of rights to or perpetration of violence against communities within their borders have been through criminalizing and dehumanizing various communities.

As in the past, apathy, indifference or lack of education support a violent and oppressive status quo that currently violates international humanitarian law in Palestine.

Furthermore, at stake in the multi-billion-dollar American-Israeli occupation of Palestine are contemporary issues that I and many other Stanford students care about, including the increase of racial profiling, police brutality against nonviolent political dissidents, American immigration policy and the welfare of the global poor.

The Oakland police that used rubber bullets, tear gas, shot and critically injured an Iraq War veteran and dozens of others during the Occupy movement were trained a month before alongside Israeli police. The NYPD, which has been racially profiling Muslim and Arab citizens since 9/11 has been modeled on techniques Israeli forces use in the West Bank. Over 9,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officials have participated in Israeli-led training sessions that have led to increasingly militaristic surveillance and police control in airports, malls and cities across the nation.

Parts of the “separation wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border are contracted by the same company that built the apartheid wall, which violates international human rights law, in Israel.

The state of Israel has provided Brazil and other Latin American countries with hundreds of millions of dollars in drones for police surveillance. Brazil claims to use these drones for “counterterrorism” and “drug trafficking,” but Brazil has also criminalized the slum dwellers across the state and used police brutality to evict its poorest citizens.

The F16s and missiles that companies like Lockheed Martin ($36.9 billion revenue FY 2011) and Raytheon ($25 billion revenue FY 2012) develop are the same military weapons that Israeli forces used to kill 105 civilians, including 34 children and 13 women, in Gaza last week.

The bulldozers that Israel has used to demolish 25,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and internally displace over 160,000 are provided by Caterpillar, Inc. ($60 billion revenue FY 2011), whose CEO addressed this campus last spring in the GSB’s “View from the Top” series.

Divesting from the U.S.-Israeli occupation of Palestine is the only neutral option.

When more U.S. aid goes to Israel than Latin America and Africa combined each year, the Israeli occupation of Palestine becomes the U.S.-Israeli occupation of Palestine, and all American citizens become implicated in the side of the oppressor.

When Stanford’s $17 billion endowment does not even investigate whether any cent of its funds are invested in companies like Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar or Raytheon, all Stanford students become implicated in the side of the oppressor.

Our current status quo is one that supports oppressive policies and international human rights violations. To divest is to take our money out of this U.S.-Israeli occupation.

The UC-Irvine student body unanimously passed a resolution for its university to divest from the Israeli conflict on Nov. 12. The Brown Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies (ACCRIP) recommended that the Brown Corporation consider divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine on Nov. 14.

It is time for Stanford to do the same.


Sign Stanford’s divestment petition at sper.stanford.edu. Write to the University to investigate its investment practices at ircommunications ‘at’ smc.stanford.edu.

About Kristian Davis Bailey

Kristian Davis Bailey is a junior studying Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. A full time journalist/writer and occasional student, he's served as an Opinion section editor, News writer and desk editor for The Daily, is a community liaison for Stanford STATIC, the campus' progressive blog and journal, and maintains his own website, 'With a K.' He's interested in how the press perpetuates systems of oppression and seeks to use journalism as a tool for dismantling such systems.
  • Pay Attention to History

    I would be interested in your providing information about Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal uttering the words “Israel has a right to exist”. I did not hear him answer that question when Christiane Amanpour repeatedly asked him that question last week. I think he believes that entire state of Israel is occupied territory. Do you think otherwise?

  • you pay attention

    During a recent interview, Khaled Meshaal, expressed surprise at demands that he recognize Israel while Palestine is yet to receive international recognition; and stressed that he accepts a state within the 1967 territory. This, in other words, means that he shall recognize the state of Israel when Palestine is recognized as a state! And if he agrees to the 1967 borders (The occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) representing an area equivalent to 22 percent of historic Palestine, while the State of Israel receiving 78 percent of historic Palestine), then he is agreeing to Israel getting the majority of the land, and therefore accepting the existence of Israel! When Meshaal says “we are offerring Israel peace”; doesn’t that mean that he recognizes them as a state?

    Meshaal continued, “We are defending our people and our land and I will respond. I’m the leader of Hamas and through CNN I tell the whole world that we are ready to resort to a peaceful way, truly peaceful way, without blood and weapons, as long as we attain our Palestinian national demands, including bringing an end to the occupation, establishing a state and meeting our other national objectives.”

    He added, “Today the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, like all previous leaders of the occupation, besieges us. They want the continuation of the occupation and the settlements, what does the world wants from the Palestinians? We are the victims and they want us to raise the white flag?”

    Hamas are ready to achieve peace. Israel isn’t.

    Recognition of the State of Palestine along the 1967 border represents a re-affirmation of the two-state solution. Recognition of Palestine at the UN is about legitimizing Palestine rather than delegitimizing Israel. Such recognition would reinforce the standing of the 1967 border as the basis of a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace. By colonizing Palestinian land and attempting to erode the standing of the 1967 border, Israel has undermined its own standing in the global community and probably almost destroyed the two-state solution as a means for achieving Palestinian-Israeli peace.

  • sigh

    Wow. Ok, I, too, sometimes disagree with Kristian’s articles but I try to comment on that points I disagree with, not say that we should simply boycott all of his writing because he writes a few op-eds (key word: OPINION) that I might disagree with. Boycotting and ignoring voices of writers just because you don’t agree with them is childish at best and can help perpetuate systems of oppression at worst (and OH HEY, that’s exactly what KDB is trying to fight against — way to prove his point for him). Especially because you agree that he is “intelligent and impassioned,” the knee-jerk move to boycott his writing and the whole paper seems bizarre to me.

  • just wrong

    Oh really!? Can the writers of Gaieties speak freely? No, they have to receive approval from the community centers or what have you. Can I speak freely about women without fear of it being labelled as sexual harassment and sent through judicial affairs? I cannot speak freely in dorms- a few years ago the rule was I could not even distribute publications in dorms unless the RF allowed it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the rule is the same today. White Plaza is the “free speech” area of campus- I wonder what that makes the rest of campus. Even in White Plaza, though, I would need to register my free speech event with a university entity and get preapproval from Student Activities and Leadership. And I cannot engage in free speech that promotes a corporation, although the administration allows hundreds of corporations to promote themselves there with the oft-held career fairs.

  • Confused

    Hey is this Quora? How do I use this site?

  • student


  • Reality Check

    Beinin is a propagandist. That proves nothing other than propaganda supports propaganda.

  • Reality Check

    The population is not imprisoned. No-one in Gaza is starving. Give up the propaganda.

  • Reality Check

    1948: Palestinians reject peace and declare war on Israel.

    Rinse and repeat.

  • Reality Check

    Don’t forget the tax on Jews. Even the mafia lets you live in peace if you pay protection money.

  • Reality Check

    Hamas deliberately targets civilians. Israel deliberately tries to avoid civilians.

    End of story.

  • Reality Check

    Hamas lies. Actions speak louder than words. Only a fool believes their propaganda.

  • Reality Check

    You can’t beseige something without surrounding it. That is just silly propaganda.

  • Reality Check

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for activist logic.

    I rest my case.

  • dogita

    Hilarious! Reminds me of how the rich complain about being oppressed by the poor.

  • Free Palestine

    Would you accept a deal with someone who was taking away 50% of your land, aka the fertile land of Palestine? Of course not. Palestinians owned and lived on that land, and were forced to leave it because of the UN resolution that gave 50% of a peoples land to another people who did not own that land.

  • sayeret25victory

    There is no “Palestine”. There might have been, but they chose war instead- time and again:

    The would-have-been “Palestinians” would have had a state IN PEACE in 1937 with the Peel Plan, but they violently rejected it.

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1939 with the MacDonald White Paper, but they violently rejected it (and Jews would have even been restricted from BUYING land from Arabs).

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 1948 with UN 181, but they violently rejected it (and actually claimed that the UN had no such mandate!).

    They could have had a state IN PEACE in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza from 1948-1967 without any Jews- because the Arabs had ethnically cleansed every last one; but they violently rejected it. In fact, that’s exactly when they established Fatah (1959) and the PLO (1964).

    They could have had a state IN PEACE after 1967, but instead, the entire Arab world issued the Khartoum Resolutions:

    A. No peace with Israel
    B. No recognition of Israel
    C. No negotiations with Israel

    They would have had a state IN PEACE in 2000 with the Oslo Accords, but they violently rejected it- as always.

    And as soon as Israel pulled every single Israeli out of Gaza, what did the would-have-been “Palestinians” do? They immediately started shooting thousands of missiles into Israeli population centers, they elected Hamas (whose official platform calls for jihad with no negotiations until Israel is destroyed) to rule them, and they have dug tunnels crossing into the Negev to kill and kidnap Israelis.

    And even afterwards, Ehud Olmert made his subsequent generous offer that went far beyond even that of Barak. The would-have-been “Palestinians” rejected it.

    They had many chances.

    They threw them all away because destroying Israel was higher on their priority list. It still is.

    Oh well. That’s their choice.

  • Barry

    This author is sadly misinformed about a lot of things. Is there an Israeli occupation going on? Yes and no. An occupation is the normal situation of disputed land. The Arabs are as much occupiers as Israelis and in and of itself, neither side is totally wrong.

    On a more important aspect, there really is no occupation and only the ignorant believe there is. The only legal, internationally binding law about the land in question occurred in 1920 at the San Remo Conference. The resulting San Remo Resolutions, made legal in 1922 by the League of Nations, is the ruling law of the the land. Those resolutions gave the land in question to the Jews – period.

    Everything since are nothing more than opinions, carrying no legal weight. They were one sides opinions as well, heavily stacked immorally against Israel. Buy they are not binding law.

    And since when can you occupy something other than a country? You cannot. Either way, the worst one can say is that Israel is occupying it’s own land. Everything else is based on ignorance.

  • Barry

    Sad day when supposedly bright college kids are as foolish and ignorant as this writer. The truth is so much different than perceived, and the brainwashing of those against Israel works too well. And let’s face it, there is some anti-semitism that’s crept into all of those, denials notwithstanding.

  • sam1am

    Free Pals – before making inane replies, just consider the possibility that the person you are trying to educate with your hogwash and half truth IS not only MORE knowledgeable and have a large circle of family and friends living in Israel and visit them on annual basis… I am talking from personal experience and deep knowledge of Jewish History and the Arabs-Jewish conflict since the days of their false prophet pedophile Mohamed…… go and read about the Kaybar betray of Muhamad, them let talk….

  • alex7070

    “Might makes right” at work over and over again. How about a world order of respect and sharing instead of taking everything you can all the time. On top of placing the previous citizens in camps then they are used and abused as low- or no-wage serfs. There is no honor in this.