By Michael Fiorentino | April 2, 2009
AMHERST, Mass.–The Student Government Association at the University of Massachusetts Amherst passed a resolution March 25 calling for divestment from companies that profit from war and occupation.
The resolution was drafted by members of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) and supported by various progressive student groups. It was stripped of any mention of the words Palestine or Israel, but the resolution contains a clause calling for the creation of “an investments committee that can screen for socially responsible investments and divest from companies that make their millions off the suffering in all countries facing war and occupation.”
Suppan Tariq, the senator responsible for the amendment regarding socially responsible lending, noted that, “It’s important for students to have some degree of control over the university’s investments–we want to make sure they aren’t going to companies who are making money at the expense of people’s suffering.”
The connection between the continued occupation of Palestine and the struggle to pass the resolution should be lost on no one. Since Israel’s latest offensive against Gaza began in late December, students and community members have organized two large multiracial solidarity rallies, scored a historic victory when Hampshire College became the first U.S. institution of higher learning to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation, and drawn new activists into an emboldened movement that stands unapologetically on the side of the Palestinian people.
The resolution is not binding on the UMass administration, but activists are determined to fight until the university publicly divests from companies that accrue blood money through their involvement in the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
CAN recently launched a “popular education campaign” aimed at drawing out the connections between the U.S occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and its unconditional support for the apartheid state of Israel.