Dalhousie was one of many Canadian campuses where Palestinian human rights activists dared to dream of equality and human rights for Palestinians last month. Above: “I have a dream” mural somewhere in the occupied territories, from FB page of Students Against Israeli Apartheid at Dalhousie University. Read more
EDITORIAL NOTE: “Campus Roundup” is a regular monthly feature of Canada Talks Israel Palestine. This month’s roundup was prepared by Zainab Ramahi
After months of campaigning, on April 20th the Student Union at Dalhousie University has voted to divest from nine corporations deemed to be implicated in unethical activities around the world.
Estimated to comprise approximately one percent of the union’s investment portfolio, firms affected will include Caterpillar, General Mills, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Toyota, all cited for their involvement in Israel’s military occupation and abuses of the human rights of Palestinians, as well as Adidas, Allianz, arms-manufacturer UBS, and United Technologies.
The campaign began in March 2015, when Dalhousie’s Students Against Israeli Apartheid and their allies pressured the Dalhousie Student Union to review its investments for any links to human rights abuses. As a result, the Investment Review Committee was created and in November 2015 released its review naming the nine aforementioned companies as “unethical” and “socially harmful”.
Opponents of the campaign made repeated attempts to smear SAIA activists and their supporters as anti-Semitic, to which campaigners responded by demonstrating the harm in false accusations of anti-Semitism and by citing the BDS’ movement’s widespread support among high-ranking academics, scientists, South African anti-Apartheid figures, and Israelis.
Students at York University launched a petition on April 14th calling on the Board of Governors to divest from arms manufacturers. The students targeted investments in Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Amphenol, BAE Systems, and Textron, as companies involved in violations of international law and in armed conflicts around the world. So far, the petition has garnered 52 signatures from among members of the York student and alumni community.
YUDivest is made up of a coalition of groups from the York community. In September 2014, the hashtag #YUDivest was launched after Amnesty International at York, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, and the York federation of Students decided to initiate the call for divestment. In January and February 2016, The Graduate Students’ Association and YorkU Alumni for Social Justice joined the campaign. The campaign has 75 organizational endorsements so far, including York United Black Students’ Alliance, the Law & Society Students Association, and the Aboriginal Students’ Association.
University of Toronto
Meanwhile, the number of signatories to the Declaration of Faculty and Librarians in Support of the Graduate Student Union Campaign for Divestment from the Israeli Occupation at the University of Toronto has grown to 142 from a broad disciplinary spectrum. While campaigns at Dalhousie and York have target arms manufacturers in general, the GSU campaign articulates its goal directly through the greater BDS campaign, demanding divestment in holdings in companies “directly profiting from the ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territories.”
Tell us what you think. Did we miss some things? (Of course we did.) Did we get some things wrong? (Duh). Did you find this useful? Our ability to gather information from Canada’s 98 campuses is limited. Students, faculty and other are invited to share information on campus activities for inclusion in next month’s post.