Andrea Sahouri: What does your solidarity look like?
From the moment I arrived on campus as a freshman, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality has been the closest thing to a community that I've had here. Each year, SAFE members exert all of our time and energy toward organizing educational programming, cultural celebrations and our hallmark human rights plea to the Central Student Government — all simply to get the campus community to listen to us. We shoulder the burden of providing the campus with evidence of our own people’s oppression and are forced to watch as others decide whether our suffering is worth addressing. Each year we are either expected to suffer in silence or to relegate discussions of our worth to back rooms of coffee shops and rented out classrooms while we are faced with the ongoing struggles of our families in Palestine. If anyone expects us to sit in silence and do nothing, they are wrong.
And yet, year after year, we propose divestment from these companies whose operations violate Palestinian human rights and every year our Central Student Government shuts us down. We are told calling for Palestinian human rights is too divisive. We are told that SAFE is a “hate group” and that advocating for basic standards of living is inherently divisive.
#UMDivest has united groups across race, religion, class, gender and schools — all in solidarity with justice for Palestinian students and our campaign. Two weeks ago, more than 50 members of La Casa flooded CSG chambers and told us their shared history of occupation compelled them to stand for divestment. The African Students’ Association, Black Student Union and the Negro Council of Women have signed onto our statement of support, cementing #UMDivest as an inherently anti-racist struggle. Groups on the front lines of organizing of our campus towards equity, from the Social Work Student Union to PILOT, are all on board. Dozens of Jewish students — many of whom are SAFE members — recognize our campaign cannot and does not exist in the framework of pro- or anti-Israel. This is a question of human rights. And the reality is, Palestinian human rights are being violated and ignored. Our #UMDivest campaign gives us the opportunity to elevate Palestinian voices that have been institutionally shut down time after time. In a year wherein our collective values of equity and inclusion have repeatedly come under attack, #UMDivest has given rise to a diverse, sprawling coalition of students across campus.
Every year we come out stronger than ever because we will never stop fighting against injustice. We will not let scapegoats of “divisiveness” and “dialogue” stop us from fighting for Palestinian human rights. With a large and diverse coalition of supporters standing with us, it’s time to include Palestinians into the progressive narratives that this University claims to hold.
In solidarity, sign our statement of support.
Student organizations that have signed our statement of support:
La Casa - Latinx Alliance for Community Action, Support, and Advocacy
Jewish Voice for Peace
Black Student Union
School of Social Work Student Union
School of Social Work Radical People of Color Collective
Muslim Students' Association
LatinX Social Work Coalition
African Students Association
Students4Justice at the University of Michigan
South Asian Awareness Network
Yemeni Students Association
Middle Eastern North African Network
Collective Against White Supremacy
Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival
Iraqi Students' Association
Ann Arbor Young Democratic Socialists
Egyptian Student Association
Tricontinental Solidarity Network
Solidarity & Defense, Huron Valley
Arab Student Association
Michigan Muscle Club
Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc.- Zeta Chapter
Arabesque Dance Troupe
The Muslim Coalition
Books Not Bombs
Students Organize for Syria at U-M
Revolutionary Youth Alliance
United Asian American Organizations executive board
Coalition for Queer and Trans People of Color
Lebanese Student Association
Fair Labor Organizing at the School of Social Work
National Council of Negro Women at The University of Michigan
Bangladesh Student Association