Open Letter to the University of California Berkley Student Senate Concerning the 118a Senate Bill

Haifa, 14 April 2010

We, the Arab students in Israeli universities, write to you in support of the already-passed historic and courageous bill to divest from policies and practices that support Israeli war crimes. We believe that divestment from General Electric and United Technologies, two companies that are fully engaged in the material and military enterprise of Israeli colonialism in Palestinian territory, is timely and will help uphold the moral values of fairness, justice and equality, all of which are sorely missed in our region.

We express our sincerest praise and admiration of this historic step that holds states and corporate actors accountable for violations of basic human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories of 1967. Furthermore, we consider the re-passing of the bill by fellow students to be a gesture of solidarity with us, the Arab students in Israeli universities, who propose another perspective – namely, our daily experience as citizens of the Israeli state and as students in Israeli institutions of higher education, to which we arrived against great odds due to the state’s discriminatory policies – that affirms the need for divestment from Israeli colonization.

We are the lucky few among our generation who have been qualified to attend universities. Our schools mostly lack the basic facilities needed for education, and the curriculum is structured to serve the state’s goal of indoctrinating rather than educating; it contains very little, if at all, of our history and culture. We have arrived at our universities with this so-called educational baggage.

The idea that Israeli universities and institutions adhere to the values of academic freedom, objectivity and meritocracy prevails widely in the West. However, we can attest from our experience – and, indeed, prove without a doubt – that this is not the case. We are systematically prevented from forming our autonomous student bodies, and racial discrimination is widely practiced against us when it comes to receiving scholarships and securing housing in the university residential halls – discrimination enacted under the pretext that we have not served in the Israeli army. The restrictions imposed on our freedom of expression are more stifling; our public gatherings are often violently interrupted by the police, called to intervene by the university administration.

We are hopeful that the AUSC will reaffirm the true meaning of human values, and prove that racism and disregard for human dignity are no longer tolerated in this century, by re-passing the 118a Senate Bill.

In solidarity,

Palestinian 48 students in Israeli Universities

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