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University of California San Diego (UCSD) succeeded in passing a motion to divest from Israel after a vote on Wednesday 13th March. The motion was passed 20-12 with one abstention. This had come after successful divestment votes across California at UC Riverside, UC Irvine and UC Berkely.
Although the vote is non-binding, it does highlight the popular support for Palestine and divestment.
The Right to Education Campaign has issued a letter in support of divestment.
Birzeit University Right to Education Campaign calls upon UCSD to respect human rights and support divestment from Israel.
As the student government of UCSD calls a vote on divestment from Israel, we, the students and volunteers at Birzeit University’s Right to Education Campaign, support the call for UCSD to divest from Israel and the call to review University of California holdings in all companies that profit from occupation, siege, blockade and apartheid imposed upon the Palestinian people.
There are several areas which severely hinder the right to education across the West Bank. Freedom of movement and danger of imprisonment are two major issues which students face on a daily basis.
It is not possible for students from Gaza to attend Birzeit University. They require permits from the Israeli government which have been denied. There were previously 300 students studying at Birzeit from Gaza, however the number is now 5, all of whom have specific visa permissions: they are all exceptions to the rule.
The Apartheid Wall does not keep to the 1967 Armistice Line; instead it slices through Palestinian land, creating what is known as the ‘Seam Zone’. Inhabitants of the Seam Zone must pass through the main check point into the West Bank from East Jerusalem, Qalandia, adds approximately two hours to every journey. Before the checkpoint, travel between Jerusalem and Ramallah (Birzeit University is close by) took 15 minutes. It now takes one or two hours, depending on traffic and the mood of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) stationed there.
Companies such as Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions supply technology that is used within checkpoints, either for communication or providing biometric monitoring and other systems helps to support the degradation of Palestinians on a daily basis.
As well as general restrictions on travel, students tend to stay and study closer to home. This is more often the case for female students, as their families are more worried about them; however through not being able to travel freely across the West Bank for fear of arrest, or not being able to get back to their family limits the exchange of knowledge within Palestine.
It is not just students who are affected by Israeli restrictions on movement. Professors who wish to teach at Birzeit but do not hold a Palestinian ID card must re-enter the country every three months to renew their visas. There is no guarantee that they will be able to regain entry, thereby disrupting the learning of their students. Some professors have been known to hold classes via Skype until they have been able to re-enter.
The Israeli authorities classify many student organisations with ties to political parties illegal. As a member of one of these groups, you run the risk of arrest. Several student council presidents have been arrested under this law. As well as this, students are often arrested for as little as attending a student meeting or distributing flyers. There are currently 29 Birzeit University students in Israeli detention. Charges are rarely released immediately and interrogation can go on indefinitely. Prisons are often staffed by G4S, a British/Danish company that specialises in security.
Companies such as Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar Inc., General Electric, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Silicon Graphics, Terex Corporation, United Technologies, and Valero Energy Corporation are all involved in arming the forces that suppress Palestine and block the right to education.
Therefore, the students and volunteers of Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University call on you to support the resolution of the University of California of San Diego Corporate Accountability through Divestment from Corporations Profiting from the Illegal Occupation, Siege, and Blockade of Palestine.
The Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University