Rachel Would be Proud

We received the following press release from student activists in Washington. They announced that Evergreen State College students overwhelmingly voted to divest from Israel. Rachel Corrie was a senior at the college when the Israeli army took her life with a Caterpillar bulldozer, as she stood in front of a Palestinian home they wanted to demolish.

While I am sure Rachel would be honored to have one of the flotilla ships named after her, this action by Evergreen State students is in her legacy and would make her proud, I imagine.

As the MV Rachel Corrie heads towards Gaza full of aid, Israel insists it will not land. The ship”s defiance in the name of justice, like Corrie”s and now the students”, is truly inspirational.

On June 2, 2010, students at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, made history by passing two resolutions supporting human rights, upholding international law, and promoting a just peace in the Palestine/Israel conflict.

1. The first resolution calls for The Evergreen State College Foundation to divest from companies that profit from Israel”s illegal occupation of Palestine, as part of instituting a socially responsible investment policy.

2. The second resolution calls on the College to ban the use of Caterpillar, Inc. equipment from campus.

While other US colleges have passed similar divestment resolutions, these are the first of such resolutions passed by direct vote by an entire student body. Additionally, the student government unanimously passed its own resolution strongly supporting the measures.

Divestment has been a popular tool employed at college campuses nationwide to protest South African apartheid and other human rights abuses around the world. It was only natural that divestment would be used to work toward an end to the oldest existing military occupation, Israel”s illegal occupation of Palestine–and to target the corporations that profit from the illegal occupation.

The second resolution targets the Caterpillar Corporation, which is responsible for knowingly selling equipment for war crimes and military use against a civilian population, despite calls to cease sales by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations. Israeli military officials have acknowledged that Caterpillar is a “key weapon” in its continuing occupation of Palestine. Activists worldwide have waged a campaign for several years to hold Caterpillar accountable.

Evergreen senior Rachel Corrie was killed in 2003 by a weaponized Caterpillar bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a civilian Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. Israel continues to claim that Corrie was not run over by the armored bulldozer, contradicting every eyewitness testimony.

The resolutions have received broad support outside of the campus, including an endorsement by Jewish Voice for Peace. Organizers also received a touching letter of support by students in the Gaza Strip, who wrote, “We strongly believe that through steadfast campaigns and grassroots efforts, those dissident voices–people of conscience and bravery–will be victorious.” (Letter available at tescdivest.org)

The resolutions passed overwhelmingly, with 79.5% of participating students voting for the divestment resolution and 71.8% voting for the Caterpillar resolution. This election marked the largest student voter turnout since the creation of Evergreen”s student union.

“In passing these resolutions, students at Evergreen are sending a clear message to the administration that we want a socially responsible investment policy with an unwavering commitment to human rights,” said student organizer Noor Salah.

The resolutions were inspired by similar initiatives by students at UC Berkeley, Hampshire College, and University of Michigan–Dearborn, and following a letter of encouragement from Desmond Tutu. These steps are part of a greater international movement that seeks to find nonviolent solutions to ending the Palestine/Israel conflict.

For more information, and for the complete text of the resolutions, please visit www.tescdivest.org.


Nathan Schuur

Anna Simonton


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