A similar version of this article was previously published on SAFE’s website.

As students at the University of Michigan who are committed to the self-determination and humanity of all people, we, Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, call for our University to stand by its history of supporting civil and social justice movements, as well as holding this institution to the high standard of leaders and best. We specifically call upon the University to divest from companies that profit from the systematic violation of Palestinian human rights. In standing by our moral obligations as University students, SAFE officially announces the launch of its #UMDivest campaign for the 2014-15 academic year.

Palestinian suffering is thoroughly documented by scholars, human rights activists, and world leaders. Since 1967, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been living under Israeli military occupation. This occupation is recognized as illegal under international law, with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories subjected to a system of discriminatory and arbitrary laws. Segregated bus systems, restricted freedom of movement and routine incarceration without due process are part of Palestinians’ daily reality. In clear violation of the Geneva Convention, the Israeli government also forcibly removes Palestinians from their homes which are demolished to make way for illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. More than 500,000 settlers currently inhabit the West Bank in over 100 illegal settlements, which are subsidized and facilitated by the Israeli government.

As part of the occupation, Palestinians in Gaza also face routine military assaults killing thousands of civilians. Most recently, this past summer’s Operation Protective Edge, a 50-day long war on Gaza in which the Israel Defense Forces killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, wounded 11,000 and displaced 500,000 Gaza residents.

In the case of the University of Michigan, we are invested in multiple companies that aid and facilitate this system of violence and oppression against Palestinians. Two examples include Caterpillar and United Technologies. The following are examples of the crimes our University funds:

Caterpillar “manufactures and provides bulldozers and civil engineering tools … used in demolitions of Palestinians’ houses in the occupied territories, in the construction of the separation wall and settlements on Palestinian land, in military incursions and as weapons. The Israeli army has used unmanned D9 bulldozers (Dawn Thunder) in the December 2008 attacks in Gaza” and in the murder of Evergreen State College student Rachel Corrie.

United Technologies “produces Blackhawk helicopters which are used by the Israeli military to attack Palestinian cities, refugee camps and villages. Many civilians have been killed in these attacks.”

As our University remains invested in these companies, we as students are complicit in human rights violations. SAFE calls upon the University of Michigan student body to reflect and learn more about the current situation. We announce a year-long series of events to educate our campus and allow for open discussion on the #UMDivest initiative. We refuse to be unwillingly implicated in the oppression of others and believe that any prospect for justice and peace begins with an unconditional respect for human life and dignity.

In Solidarity,

Students Allied for Freedom & Equality

This article was written by members of SAFE.

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