By ISMAIL ABU HAYYEH, Guest Writer
When our nation was crowning from the loins of revolution, Thomas Jefferson wrote, on the birth certificate of the United States of America: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed… with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” If all men are equal and entitled to these inalienable rights, then all of mankind should be enveloped under the truths inscribed within the Declaration of Independence. Before anyone can claim that everyone around the world has these rights, we must first ensure that there is no contradiction between what we believe and what we execute. To claim that everyone across the globe possesses these inalienable rights is hypocrisy, because while we enjoy luxurious lifestyles that are influenced by technological colossi like Boeing, United Technologies, Hewlett- Packard (HP) and Group4Securicor (G4S), we perpetuate the endangerment of a unified Palestinian state who, by the hands of such corporations, is under constant threat and assault by Israel.
What we, the members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), are trying to accomplish is simple in comprehension, yet difficult in practice; to strengthen support for the Palestinian cause within the student body. To accomplish this goal, we have undergone a strenuous process to pass resolutions through our Student Government to approve and enact behaviors of divestment. Divestment, in its purest form, is an economic action that inhibits financial growth for businesses or firms, whether for political, ethical, or financial reasons. Divestment is essentially the opposite of an investment; it encourages reductions in spending that intentionally strains the revenue of specific corporations. For SJP, divestment from companies like Boeing, United Technologies, HP, and G4S aids in propagating fiscal strain on Israel, who, for sixty-nine years, [Israel] has oppressed the Palestinians living within the borders of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since 1948, countless homes have been destroyed, innumerable families have been divided, and, among a myriad of violations of international law, Israel has drastically expanded its borders past the originally designated areas that were mapped out in 1948 and has become what we now title the “1967 Lines.” As a result of involvement by companies in the past and the aforementioned businesses, Israel has maintained control over these lands for over four decades.
If there is anything that is more juxtaposing to our beliefs of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it is the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people, whose suffering has been delivered, indirectly, by the mentioned conglomerates. HP, a technological giant, and G4S, a security services institution founded in England, both play major roles in the oppression of the Palestinian people. HP’s computers and biometric scanners are used at various checkpoints to store information on Palestinians, while simultaneously preventing free movement between Israel and Palestine. G4S assists the Israelis at Israeli checkpoints along Israel’s wall, within the illegally constructed Israeli settlements, and in prisons where Palestinians are detained without legal justification and tortured. Boeing, an aviation pioneer, provides Israel with AH-64 Apache helicopters, F-15 Eagle jets, and Joint Direct Attack Munitions; a guided air-to-surface missile system which is used by the IDF to assault the Palestinians almost daily. United Technologies produces Blackhawk helicopters which are also employed as an instrument of oppression against Palestinian civilians. These corporations are equally responsible for the devastation Israel has wreaked on the Palestinians. With the constant neglect of the Palestinians and their inalienable rights, SJP aims to place economic stress on the abovementioned companies, which would cause them to decrease their businesses in Israel, and eventually cease contracting with Israel, weakening the Israeli panopticon and giving the Palestinian people the incontrovertible rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
In the resolution we recently passed with the UM-Dearborn Student Government, we listed the corporations that invest in the subjugation of Palestinians through apartheid, and moved for the establishment of a committee that would oversee divestment from these corporations. Now, one might ask why we would go to such lengths to cripple these companies. We’re not the ones responsible for this dilemma, right? Wrong. We hold just as much responsibility for the Palestinian dilemma as the previously named firms if we remain as bystanders. Between the beginning of the Second Intifada (2000) to Operation: Protective Edge (2014), 6,890 Palestinians were brutally murdered by the IDF and Israeli civilians, while the Palestinians killed a mere 576 Israelis. Approximately 2,150 of the Palestinians murdered were children, while only 134 Israeli deaths were youths. Although there is bloodshed on both sides, Palestinian fatalities are significantly larger than Israeli casualties, which can be attributed to the massive support Israel has from corporations such as Boeing and United Technologies.
What we try to accomplish at SJP is no small task. While the subject of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is very sensitive and controversial, we try to spread awareness to the best of our ability. And to divest from Boeing, G4S, United Technologies, and HP aids our cause further by spreading awareness of the atrocities these corporations are responsible for and of the injustice occurring overseas. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful tool which you can use to change the world.” To educate people on such a contentious topic is one direction we follow. By raising awareness of the aggressive behaviors of Israel, we gather more support within our community for the Palestinian cause. And like the winds of revolution, our word spreads across the country, and soon, the world. As our word spreads, humanity becomes aware of the cruelties that occur by the hands of Israel. At SJP, we uphold justice and equality for Palestinians. We condemn the existence of the panoptic Israeli state in Palestine. As we continue our work, spreading the words of those who can no longer speak, we uphold the foundations of our nation, and preach that we do hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that we are all endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…