Faculty Support Student-Workers of UAW 2865 in Standing in Solidarity with Palestinian Students and Workers and Voting YES on BDS December 4th!
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We are faculty in support of the UAW 2865's efforts to stand in solidarity with Palestinian workers and students. On December 4, 2014, the UAW 2865 – the union representing teaching assistants, graders, readers, and tutors across the University of California system – will hold a membership-wide vote on a historic resolution to join the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (“BDS”) movement seeking to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands, end its settler-colonial policies, and comply with international and human rights law. As faculty members both at the University of California and beyond, we support the efforts of the UAW 2865 and support its members in voting YES on the resolution.
This summer during Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza, the union's elected leadership (the Joint Council) published an open letter in solidarity with Palestinian labor unions’ call for joining the global BDS movement as an act of solidarity and in protest of Israeli occupation and warfare. The goal of the movement is to restore the rights of Palestinians who are under siege and military occupation in Gaza and the West Bank and of Palestinian citizens of Israel who are racially discriminated against on the basis of over 50 laws, in everything from property ownership to family reunification rights, as well as Palestinian refugees who are barred by Israel from returning to their lands.
The UAW 2865 resolution calls on the University of California and UAW international to divest their investments, including pension from Israeli state institutions and international companies complicit in severe and ongoing human rights violations, and on the US government to end military aid to Israel. The UAW is also asking for its members to make an individual commitment, a pledge, to participate in the academic boycott of Israeli institutions.
As faculty members both at the University of California and beyond, we support the efforts of the UAW 2865 and its members in voting “Yes” on the current resolution, which is long overdue. To date, faculty across the country have taken a position on the right side of history by supporting Palestinian self-determination and supporting BDS as a vehicle to challenge Israel’s violations of human rights. Academic associations including the American Studies Association, the Asian American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and the Critical Ethnic Studies Association have already overwhelmingly voted to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Over 1,200 U.S. academics have already joined the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel in response to the call from Palestinian scholars, students, and trade unions, including the General Union of Palestinian Teachers, the Federation of Unions of Palestinian Universities’ Professors and Employees, and the General Federation of Trade Unions.
As faculty, it is now our turn to support our student-workers, teaching assistants, and advisees as they take this bold and courageous step to call on their employer—the University of California —and the UAW International to divest from companies profiting from the illegal military occupation of Palestine, as well as committing themselves to the academic boycott.
Israeli universities are complicit with the occupation and the state's human rights violations in a number of ways. Many are built on occupied Palestinian lands or on illegal settlements (for example, Ariel University and parts of Hebrew University in Jerusalem) while universities such as Technion further develop the technological capacities and military doctrines that make the occupation possible. The occupation and siege of the West Bank and Gaza prevent Palestinian academics and students from accessing outside institutions of higher learning and professional conferences. Israeli policies, including West Bank checkpoints and the blockade of Gaza, impede students from getting to school, and travel abroad to study can be extremely difficult. Meanwhile, Palestinian universities are regularly targeted by the Israeli state with violence and repression. There is a long record of Israeli universities arresting, harassing, and repressing Palestinian student protests and political activities. Similar racism in apartheid South Africa led to students and professors in the U.S. engaging in boycott and divestment; increasingly, they are doing the same to challenge bigoted Israeli policies and laws that are upheld by unconditional U.S. support.
While many other unions around the world have already supported BDS, we are inspired that a “YES” vote on the UAW 2965 resolution would mean that the UAW 2865 will become the first labor union in the United States to join the BDS movement!
We, the undersigned faculty, support the UAW 2865 members who vote YES on the upcoming BDS resolution.
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