Disclose, Divest, Boycott Israel: Student Encampments in Canada for Palestine

F4P in Solidarity With Student Encampments

Faculty for Palestine (F4P) wholeheartedly supports the student encampments for Palestine at universities across the settler colonial state of Canada and around the world. The students are holding universities accountable by insisting that they end their complicity with Israeli occupation, apartheid, and genocide and all forms of support for Israel. Faculty for Palestine calls on all faculty to support and stand in solidarity with the students, and to condemn all forms of repression by university administrators and the state targeting the encampments and activists.

The student encampments are playing a central role in the global struggle for Palestinian liberation. As faculty, we learn from the depth of their solidarity and the clarity of their vision. They uphold the demands of Palestinian civil society by demanding universities divest from all Israeli companies and terminate partnerships with all institutions that support or sustain Israeli occupation and apartheid, and the genocide in Gaza.

Faculty for Palestine condemns university administrators who invite violent reprisal upon the students for bravely calling on their institutions to stop supporting genocide. These administrators privilege the rights of the Israeli state – a state that has illegally and increasingly occupied the Palestinian territories since 1967, enforced a blockade on Gaza since 2007, and has killed over 35,000 Palestinians and displaced 2 million since October 7, 2023 – over the rights of their students to protest this genocidal violence.

Faculty for Palestine condemns administrators who preemptively threaten and attempt to criminalize students for even thinking about exercising their rights to assemble and make demands of their universities. We condemn administrators who have been silent about the scholasticide that has taken place in Gaza, while creating false narratives about antisemitism, violence, and infiltrators.

Faculty for Palestine condemns administrations that continue to support Israeli apartheid and occupation through their investments and partnerships, through their censoring pro-Palestine speech and protest, through their refusal to call for a ceasefire and speak out against the genocide, and through their promotion of false narratives.

Faculty for Palestine reiterates its commitment to Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions and echoes the call of students from Turtle Island to Palestine:

Disclose! Divest! We will not stop, we will not rest!

Faculty for Palestine (F4P) is a Canada-wide solidarity network of academics committed to advancing the struggle for Palestinian liberation, justice, and equality through the academic sector. F4P is founded on anti-racist, anti-colonial, social justice principles and foregrounds opposition to Israeli apartheid, occupation, and settler colonialism in its work. F4P organizes on issues of academic freedom, freedom of expression, and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel; supports and organizes educational activities and actions focused on Israeli apartheid, occupation, settler colonialism, and the Palestinian right to education. F4P is an active partner in the global BDS movement, working closely with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), the Right to Education Campaign, and other partners in the Palestine solidarity movement transnationally. F4P stands against all forms of racism and specifically advocates on anti-Palestinian racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism. •

In Support of Canadian University Encampments for Gaza – Call for Schools to Divest from Israel!

Canadian university students have established peaceful solidarity encampments on behalf of the people of Palestine under persecution. It is critical that we support encampment efforts and do our part to help students demand universities end complicity in the genocide and 76-year occupation of Palestine.

Send an email to the following schools, urging them to agree to student demands: McGill, University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University, University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, Western University, University of Toronto.

The Letter

As a Canadian who cares about our country’s institutions not being complicit in global atrocities, I was heartened to see students at your campus in protest of Israel’s genocide in Gaza. These students are actively demanding complete divestment from Israeli institutions involved in the occupation and genocide of the Palestinian people.

A wonderful example of a university cooperating with students can be seen at Brown University, where productive discussions between university leaders and student representatives resulted in an agreement to end an encampment by a specified deadline. The agreement outlined students’ commitments to comply with the university’s conduct code and refrain from further actions that would violate policies. Additionally, the university agreed to engage in dialogue with student representatives regarding divestment from companies linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Calls for divestment have historical roots in movements such as the South African anti-apartheid struggle, a legitimate pressure tool for policy change. Palestinian civil society has advocated for the international adoption of divestment strategies since 2005 to enforce Israel’s compliance with international law. We stand with efforts from Canadian faculty associations and student unions joining this call for divestment, aligning with broader civil society movements.

After witnessing the violent suppression of student activists across encampments in the United States, I would be shocked and disappointed if your administration resorted to the same brutal tactics. Non-violent political expression does not merit police brutality and mass arrests. Please respect students’ right to freedom of expression, especially on behalf of Palestinians under persecution.

I urge your management to heed the students’ call for complete divestment and condemnation of Israel’s occupation and genocide of Palestinians. I have taken the liberty of echoing student demands below;

1. Disclose all investments held in endowments, short-term working capital assets and other financial holdings of the university.

2. Divest the university’s endowment, capital assets, and other financial holdings from all direct and indirect investments that sustain Israeli apartheid, occupation and illegal settlement of Palestine.

3. Terminate all partnerships with Israeli academic institutions that either operate in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or support or sustain the apartheid policies of the state of Israel and its ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Lastly, my mention of ‘apartheid’ and ‘genocide’ in this email is consistent with ongoing ceasefire calls from human rights groups including Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and international legal bodies including the UN and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). •

IJV-UBC Stands in Solidarity with People’s University for Gaza

We are a group of Jewish students, staff and faculty at University of British Columbia (UBC). We are inspired by the level of trust, dedication and anti-discrimination we see in the UBC encampment, and we celebrate and uphold the work of the UBC students who have organized it. The UBC encampment is a welcoming space for all those seeking justice and liberation for Palestinians, including all of us.

As Jewish members of the UBC community, we support and are a part of this peaceful encampment. We are here alongside our peers, our friends, our classmates and our students. We add our voices to those urging UBC to take a principled and ethical stance towards the genocide taking place on Gazans.

As people of conscience horrified by the murder of more than 35,000 Palestinians since October, we call out and condemn the complicity of our own university in this mass death and destruction. Any institution of learning – but especially a university claiming to be reckoning with its own settler colonial past and present – should not be silent in the face of such horrors, nor should it actively contribute to them.

Together with students in the encampment and throughout the university, we urge you to:

  1. Immediately divest from all companies that are facilitating the genocide in Gaza. No one should profit from the death and suffering of Palestinians.
  2. Sever ties with Israeli universities. In her book, Towers of Ivory and Steel, UBC scholar and Jewish activist, Maya Wind, shows these universities are active agents enabling Israel’s militarism and its violation of Palestinian human rights.
  3. Condemn Israel’s genocide and scholasticide in Gaza. Books, education, critical thinking and learning have always been held in the highest esteem in our Jewish tradition. Israel’s targeted destruction of every single university in Gaza is not only a crime against Palestinian scholars, students and archives, it is an affront to Jewish values and to communities of learning around the world.
  4. End the policing and suppression of marginalized students on campus. The violence of policing and the brutal repression of students calling for an end to genocide and for justice and liberation for Palestinians falls most heavily on marginalized students. UBC’s reliance on policing to suppress students acting in solidarity with Palestine, especially Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students, must end. The encampment is a symbol of peace and must be treated as such.
  5. Respect Palestinians’ right to return to their homeland. Education is not just about papers and exams, it teaches us how to be and behave in the world. Israeli violence against and dispossession of Palestinians did not begin in October. The curriculum we teach and learn has opened our eyes to the injustices of the past and present, and it is our job to put those lessons into practice.

We add a final demand as progressive, justice-minded Jewish people at UBC:

  1. Stop equating Zionism with Judaism. We are the descendants of thousands of years of Jewish culture, traditions and peoples around the world. Our rejection of the violence and racism of the Israeli state is not antisemitic, it is a principled stance, an enactment of our Jewish values, and part of a long history of Jewish opposition to Zionism. The suppression of this history erases the plurality of our ancestors’ beliefs and political opinions, as well as a similar diversity in the Jewish diaspora today.

Alongside the growing chorus of Jewish voices across the world, we ask you, as representatives of our university, to embody the values you claim to hold dear and to move away from investing in war, apartheid and murder.

This peaceful student encampment represents the moral center of our community. Join us in building a world, and a university, that we can be proud of. •

Independent Jewish Voices UBC

This Is How Power Protects Itself

Columbia University found itself at the center of a global movement after students launched a Gaza Solidarity Encampment late last month. On Tuesday night, Columbia president Minouche Shafik, having apparently decided that the protests could no longer be tolerated, called in the New York Police Department to “maintain order” and ensure that no more tents pop up on the West Lawn. The NYPD happily complied. Officers forced their way into Hamilton Hall, which had been occupied by protesters, and violently cleared the building. Dozens of people were arrested. Further uptown, police ran riot at the City College of New York, where another student encampment and occupation had sprung up. Hundreds of officers stormed the school, violently arrested protesters, and hauled dozens of people away. After the campus had been cleared, police raised the American flag.

New York City Council member Chi Ossé summed the scene up well, tweeting, “Tonight in the United States of America, we are witnessing a militarized police force, funded by NYC taxpayers, arresting American students in the name of a foreign country that’s carrying out a genocide.”

In Los Angeles, police stood by and watched as a group of Israel supporters beat pro-Palestinian demonstrators at UCLA, attacking them with mace and fireworks. Police also used pepper spray on students at the University of South Florida earlier on Tuesday.

While all of this was happening, Israel continued bombing Palestinians up and down the Gaza Strip.

This shock-and-awe campaign was about smashing a rapidly expanding student movement whose bravery has captivated people around the world. It was about eliminating the threat that the pro-Palestine movement poses to business as usual. It was about showing university donors, Republicans, Democrats, and the White House that these schools knew which side they were supposed to be on.

And it was about reminding these students – these kids who had the nerve to sit in tents – of who is in charge and who isn’t. The students at Columbia and City College and UCLA and the University of South Florida and all of the more than 70 Gaza solidarity protests that have emerged at campuses around the country committed the sin of believing that it is acceptable for them to try to influence what happens at their school or – heaven forbid – what happens in the world at large. The hope is that these protesters will learn who the world is really supposed to work for – that there is a sky-high price to be paid for questioning the natural order of things. You can feel the question thrumming through the violence and repression: How dare you?

But here’s the lesson in all this: The people in charge are scared. They are terrified of the power of the movement for Palestine – of its size, moral righteousness, fearlessness, diversity, and love. And they are terrified that one of the key pillars of the American system – support for Israel no matter what it does – is being shaken.

Administrators and politicians are panicking. People aren’t supposed to question the billions of dollars we send to Israel or the nature of Israel’s apartheid system. They’re supposed to think that Zionism is sacred and that no Jew could ever oppose it. They’re supposed to stand by and watch as Israel commits crimes against humanity. And instead, they are rising up. There are more encampments every day.

The past seven months have been horrendous. The atrocities Israel has committed are almost too much to wrap your mind around, and the US government’s complicity is almost too much to bear.

But if we have seen the worst of what the world has to offer, we have also seen the best. The movement for Palestinian liberation is stronger than ever. People are putting their futures, and their lives, on the line for Palestine in numbers we’ve never seen. There has been a collective awakening. Nobody knows what that awakening will lead to, but it feels clear that, on some fundamental level it can’t go back to the status quo.

I want to return to that question that you can feel being spat at the students between the lines of the statements from the likes of the White House, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and Columbia’s president Minouche Shafik: How dare you?

The students all over the country know the answer, and so does everyone else fighting for Palestinian liberation. The answer is this: You dare because that is how the world changes. And make no mistake, the world is changing now. All the cops in the world can’t stop that. •

This article first published on The Nation website.