The Vassar Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Coalition is an organization composed of students from a number of different Vassar Student Association (VSA) Organizations. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian cause and call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions on the state of Israel until Israel complies with international law.
We struggle alongside many other colleges and organizations as we join this larger struggle against colonialism, imperialism, and human rights violations. We will start with organizing to pass the following BDS Resolution through the Vassar Student Association (VSA). Please read through the resolution, share feedback with us, and support our work through attending the Vassar BDS Coalition meetings, sending notes of solidarity, changing Facebook profile pictures, signing alumni letters of support, and joining the BDS Movement.
The Vassar Student Association will first review the resolution on Sunday, February 28th, and will have a final vote on the resolution on Sunday, March 6th. That said, there is still time to edit and improve our resolution. Do not hesitate to reach out with feedback.
Vassar Student Association Resolution 30-x
A resolution concerning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement
Principal Authors: Students For Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, Alexia Garcia, Henry Rosen, Ethan Cohen
WHEREAS, Article II of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all people “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” are entitled to the rights enumerated therein; and
WHEREAS, Vassar College’s mission is in part to make “possible an education that promotes analytical, informed, and independent thinking and sound judgment;” and
WHEREAS, historically, Vassar College students stood in solidarity with the global effort to dismantle the apartheid regime in South Africa; and
WHEREAS, the 30th VSA Council has, in their Guiding Principles resolved to “value and work towards anti-racism [and] intersectional feminism,” with the knowledge that “a neutral and apolitical stance in regards to inequality […] directly contributes to oppression;” and
WHEREAS, the relative safety and insulation of this campus need not deter the strength and power of solidarity to affect real and tangible justice; and
WHEREAS, in 2005 Palestinian civil authorities called for “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era;” and
WHEREAS, the goals of these boycotts and divestment campaigns are three-fold: ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Separation Wall; recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and respecting, protecting and promoting the inalienable rights of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and properties from which they were expelled in 1948 as stipulated in UN resolution 194; and
WHEREAS, these campaigns are referred to as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that on the basis of the VSA’s commitment to antiracism and antisexism, it encourages the reconsideration of Vassar College’s economic contributions to human rights violations worldwide,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the VSA endorses the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Vassar student organizations cannot use VSA Council funds to purchase items from the following companies: Sabra, Tribe, Ben & Jerry’s, Hewlett-Packard Company, Ahava, General Electric, Eden Springs, and Motorola,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the VSA Council supports Vassar College divesting from the aforementioned companies as well as Caterpillar, G4S, and Elbit Systems,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, upon the future decisions of these and other companies, the VSA can remove or add targeted companies to the aforementioned list.
SABRA Hummus is owned by the Strauss Group, a multinational corporation that invests in and financially supports the Golani Brigade of the Israeli military forces. Since its inception, the Brigade has carried out a myriad of human rights violations against Palestinians in Hebron, including arbitrary murders, assaults, incarcerations, and evictions. The Brigade’s existence as an occupying force violates international law: Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and its 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem are all illegal according to the United Nations. Sabra continues to be sold in the Retreat.
TRIBE Mediterranean Foods is owned by the Osem Group, which is the largest exporter of Israeli food products to the US. Osem is a key supporter and partner of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which controls 93% of the land within Israel and its illegal settlements. According to United for Justice with Peace, the JNF’s parks and forests were planted to hide the remains of hundreds of destroyed Palestinian villages whose occupants were driven out between 1948 and 1951.
BEN & JERRY’S has a long-standing contractual relationship with an Israeli franchise that manufactures ice cream in Israel proper and sells it in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Despite the company’s Social Mission and history of supporting progressive causes, Ben & Jerry’s continues to tie its franchise to these illegal settlements. In short, while apartheid ensues in historic Palestine, Ben & Jerry’s “peace & love” ice cream continues to pass through Israeli checkpoints, and be transported on Jewish-only roads to be sold in Jewish-only settlements.
HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY owns Electronic Data Systems, which heads a consortium providing biometric monitoring of checkpoints, including several built inside the West Bank in violation of international law. HP supplies printers to the Israeli military forces and plays a major role in the Israeli navy’s IT infrastructure by supplying computer and communications centers. Hewlett Packard subsidiary HP Invent outsources IT services to a company called Matrix, which employs settlers in the illegal settlement of Mod’in Illit to do much of its IT work at low wages.
AHAVA produces cosmetics in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
GENERAL ELECTRIC CORPORATION supplies the propulsion system for Israel’s AH64 Apache Assault Helicopter, which has been used in Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns and refugee camps.
EDEN SPRINGS uses water from a spring located in the occupied Golan Heights. The main plant is in the Katzerin Industrial Zone.
MOTOROLA has a $90 million contract to provide the Israeli army with an advanced cell phone communications system. According to the Coalition of Women for Peace, Motorola subsidiary MIRS owns at least 70 cell phone towers in illegal settlements in the West Bank, and MIRS has developed a special pricing plan for settlers. Motorola has aided in the development of a Wide Angle Surveillance System to be used in the West Bank.
CATERPILLAR provides the Israeli military with a variety of heavy engineering machinery, including wheel loaders, armored excavators, mini loaders and several models from the D9 armored bulldozer series (D9R, D9N and D9L). Caterpillar supplies the Israeli military with armored bulldozers specially adapted for the demolition of houses and olive groves. The majority of demolitions are carried out by the Israeli military to clear Palestinian land for illegal Israeli settlement or road building. Vassar used Caterpillar machinery to construct the new science building.
G4S provides equipment for Israeli-run checkpoints and terminals in the West Bank and Gaza, including luggage scanning machines, full body scanners, and L-3‘s Safeview screening machines. These military checkpoints play a major part in the West Bank Separation Wall which controls the movement of Palestinian civilians. This project is strictly illegal under international law according to a 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice.
G4S Israel installed and operates the entire security system of the Ketziot Prison, the central control room of the Megiddo Prison, as well as security services for the Damon prison. The Ketziot, Megido and Damon Prisons, located inside Israel, are incarceration facilities designated specifically for Palestinian political prisoners, or, as the G4S website labels them, “security prisoners.” Human rights organizations have collected evidence showing that Palestinian prisoners are regularly subjected to torture in Israeli prisons.
ELBIT SYSTEMS is an international defense and electronics company headquartered in Israel. It is one of the primary suppliers of weapons (including UAV military drones) to the Israeli military. The company has developed systems for the F-16 fighter jet (such as the central mission computer, display, and helmet systems), the AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter, and the Merkava tank.
A Note on the Academic Boycott
Vassar BDS is often asked whether, according to the Academic Boycott of Israeli institutions, someone like the Hebrew language fellow would not be funded at Vassar. The BDS movement only targets academic institutions, like Ben Gurion University, NOT individuals, i.e.: all Israeli people. Ben Gurion University has historically rejected non-Jewish Arab applicants en masse and invests in the occupation, although it hosts progressive individual professors. If the VSA passed the BDS resolution, the Hebrew language fellow still WOULD be allowed to work at Vassar just like any other language fellow. Here is a quote from bdsmovement.net, the official website of the BDS movement:
“The calls for BDS “recognize that Israeli academic institutions (mostly state controlled) and the vast majority of Israeli intellectuals and academics have either contributed directly to the Israeli occupation and apartheid or at the very least have been complicit through their silence. Still, the PACBI-inspired calls for boycott consistently target institutions, not individuals, steering clearly away from political tests or other McCarthyist measures.”
A Note on Decolonization
“Decolonization” means the ending of colonial relationships and the the greatest possible reversal of damage due to colonialism. This resolution demands that Israel end its “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands.” This does NOT mean that all Jewish people have to leave Israel/Palestine, or even that any Jewish people have to move anywhere. It simply means that indigenous and settler populations must stop interacting through institutionalized colonial channels. The specifics of how to decolonize Israel/Palestine are to be determined by the people that live there, NOT by SJP and JVP. We call on Vassar to boycott and divest from the main colonizing force in Israel/Palestine, Zionism, until such an agreement is reached.
This resolution is currently endorsed by:
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)
Crafts Not Bombs
Grassroots Alliance for Alternative Politics (GAAP)
Queer Coalition Vassar College (QCVC)
Vassar Drone Initiative
Vassar Transparency Coalition (VTC)