This summer on TV and computer screens across America, Operation Protective Edge brought the realities of the Israeli occupation of Palestine to the mainstream consciousness once again. The facts of this summer’s assault on Gaza stubbornly refute Israel’s claim that it was acting in self-defense. The Israeli military killed over 2,100 Palestinians, at least 70 percent of whom were civilians. At least 500 Palestinian children died, whereas 72 Israelis were killed, 90 percent of whom were soldiers.
Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) is a growing coalition of student groups and individuals who do not want their university investing in and profiting from companies that enable and benefit from collective punishment, mass incarceration and the militarization of the police in Palestine and elsewhere. During winter quarter, we will bring a resolution to the ASSU calling on Stanford to divest from companies that facilitate and profit from the injustices of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
While military campaigns against Palestinians garner the most media attention, the occupation entails a multitude of ongoing human rights violations. Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, particularly in the West Bank, live under separate and unequal law – namely, Israeli martial law. The Israeli military regularly uses tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, bean-bag shotguns and live ammunition against Palestinian demonstrators opposing the separation wall, protesting Israeli land seizures and blocking the demolition of Palestinian homes.
We witnessed a similar dynamic in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, when the police responded with unwarranted violence to residents protesting racist policing and the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Both Palestinians and African Americans face racism and militarized policing when they resist. It is no surprise that the former head of the St. Louis County Police Department trained with the Israeli military, as have hundreds of senior police officials nationwide, or that a Palestine solidarity contingent took part in the Ferguson October convergence. The oppressors found common cause with each other –now, so too have the oppressed. Our divestment resolution seeks to draw out these connections and build upon that solidarity.
The Israeli state also uses incarceration as a tool of social and political repression. There are over 6,000 Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israeli prisons or detention centers, including 200 children. Since 1967, Israel has detained several hundred thousand Palestinians, meaning that about one fifth of the Palestinian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories has at one time been imprisoned. The connections between Palestine and the U.S. extend to mass incarceration and prison profiteering as well as the militarization of the police. In America, mass incarceration is a tool of social oppression directed disproportionately at people of color. Shockingly, over 2 percent of the black population in the U.S. was incarcerated as of the 2010 Census, a rate higher than that of South Africa at the height of apartheid.
We are at a crossroads. Israel has become only more recalcitrant with the diplomatic and military backing of the United States and other world powers. In the opening days of Operation Protective Edge, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his opposition to Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank. In the aftermath of the ensuing massacre in Gaza, Israel announced that it was seizing another 1,000 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank for a future settlement and issued eviction notices to Palestinians residing there. Early this month, Israel announced the construction of 2,600 new settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem. Only international public pressure will compel Israel to accept the just demands of the Palestinian people. Divestment at Stanford can increase the pressure.
SOOP is committed to ending our university’s complicity in the occupation of Palestine as well as in the human rights violations that our investments help facilitate at home. As long as the occupation continues, we will stand in solidarity with the oppressed.
Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine
Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine is a coalition of on campus organizations and individuals and can be contacted at OutofOccupiedPalestine@gmail.com.
Organizations: Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine, MEChA de Stanford, Muslim Student Awareness Network, Students for Alternatives to Militarism, Student and Labor Alliance, The Arab Student Association at Stanford, Stanford NAACP.
Individuals: Afia Khan ’16, Ameena Tawakol ’17, Ashley Harris ’16, Celina Jackson ’17, Charles Foster ’18, Cole Manley ’15, Di’Vennci Lucas ’17, Ekua Awotwi ’17, Emma Hartung ’17, Fatima Ladha ’17, Hisham Al-Falih ’16, John Carlo Buenaflor ’17, Kelly Hernandez ’16, Kenneth Tea ’17, Kristian Davis Bailey ’14, Kleo Greenwood ’17, Kyle Neil ’17, Lindsey Redd ’17, Musila Munuve ’17, Osama El-Gabalawy ’15, Ramah Awad ’17, Rocio Hernandez ’18, Ruqayya Toorawa ’17, Sarah Houamed ’17, Shelby Sinclair ’15, Siddharth Patel, Sierra Kaplan-Nelson ’16, Skylar Lovett ’18, Stephanie Navarro ’15, Tianay Pulphus ’15, Tesay Yusuf ’18, Trevor Caldwell ’17.