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Submission from co-sponsor of SR-S17-14

student government

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George Washington University

campus

Submission from co-sponsor of SR-S17-14

By Keiko Tsuboi, co-sponsor of the resolution

Courtney Buble

4.30.17

The following is a submission from Keiko Tsuboi, co-sponsor of the resolution and Vice Chairperson of the Student Life Committee for the Student Association.

When I submitted the Advancement of Palestinian Rights Act to the senate, I knew we were sparking a political powder keg. On our campus, I witnessed Palestinian students being called “terrorists” during an anti-Trump coalition meeting and I observed the online backlash to a student who carried a Palestinian flag during the November walkout.

These instances of Islamophobia and intimidation only strengthened my resolve to advance Palestinian rights on our own campus. We are calling the University to divest its holdings from these companies because the traditional channels of power have failed to improve the lives of the Palestinian students on our campus. We are calling on the University to recognize its complicity in the suffering of the Palestinian people through its investments in companies that provide weapons and technologies that threaten the lives and livelihoods of Palestinian communities.

It would be wholly impossible to recognize the suffering endured by the Palestinian people without discussing Israeli practice and policy towards the Palestinian people. Failing to address this uncomfortable truth does not help us, rather it runs counter to the global struggle to uplift marginalized populations―a struggle which teaches us that necessary change is always controversial. Those engaged in these efforts, including past and present civil rights leaders Angela Davis, Nelson Mandela, and Desmond Tutu have also called for Palestinian equality. As Davis noted in her recent visit to our campus, withholding financial support is the least we can do.

Some have tried to dispute the facts themselves, which were pulled directly from the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. It is irresponsible at best―and dangerous at worst―to dismiss the well-documented claims of human rights abuses attributed to both sides in the Gaza War, all of which were reaffirmed by independent investigations conducted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. While I encourage thoughtful debate on the efficacy of divestment with senators and students, I cannot endorse alternate facts. Instead, like Goldstone, I urge people to read the report and "at the and of it, point out where it failed to be objective or even-handed.”

Others have gone further, insinuating that divesting from these companies and talking about the plight of the Palestinian people threatens the existence of Israel. I fail to see how calling for divestment from only those companies that have contributed to the the plight of Palestinians could be conflated with challenging the existence of the state. As for divestment, it is a grassroots tool used when traditional channels of power have failed to bring about meaningful change. It is in the same non-violent family as the boycotts and sit-ins of other movements for racial justice. I caution against vilifying the students who support the resolution and, by extension, the Palestinians that are bravely standing up for their rights at significant risk to themselves.

The question that remains unanswered by the critics of the resolution, that I urge the student body to consider most, is when will the University stop forcing Palestinian students to fund the abuse of their families, their communities and themselves? The people of Gaza certainly cannot wait. A University that claims to “dedicate itself to furthering human well-being” cannot afford to wait either.


The Rival is not taking a stance on SR S17-14. We welcome all views and opinions on the divestment matter. Want to submit an op-ed? Email The Rival at gw@therival.news.