Anti Israel poster.

The University of California Must Divest from Israel Now

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

When the brutal apartheid regime of South Africa refused to heed the call from the international community to end its racist, immoral and illegal treatment of Black South Africans, the global community deployed the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement to pressure the South African government to comply with international law and human rights. 

This nonviolent form of protest was regarded as one of the main drivers of changing apartheid South Africa. Even the United States, one of the last countries to resist this demand, eventually altered their foreign policy and utilized BDS to confront the scourge of apartheid. 

According to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations and two Israeli NGOs — Yesh Din and B'Tselem — Israel is practicing a form of apartheid on Palestine. 

Many leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa have long recognized the similarities between the two apartheid regimes; in 1994, three years after Mandela was elected president, he said, “We know too well our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” 

In addition to practicing apartheid, the International Court of Justice has concluded that there are sufficient grounds to investigate Israel for war crimes. Israel has killed over 35,000 Palestinian civilians, the majority women and children, in Gaza and decimated the health care system. Over 400 health care workers have been murdered by the Israeli military with US made bombs, planes and AI technology. 

And a recent report by the UN has demanded a formal investigation of Israel because of mass graves littered with men, women, and children found around hospitals Israel destroyed in Gaza — many with their hands tied behind their backs and with evidence of being summarily executed. 

According to the UN, it appears that Israel is also using denial of food as a weapon against civilians and famine has been declared in much of Gaza. 

These atrocities have led to international condemnation and a mass protest movement on every continent. Calls for a cease fire have been ignored by the US government, which continues to send weapons and financial support for these crimes against humanity. 

Last week students at Columbia University staged a sit-in and camped out on campus demanding that Columbia divest from Israel and Israeli institutions. 

Police were called in and arrested many protesters. Since then, there has been a massive expansion of campus protests all over the country, including throughout the University of California. 

The central demand of the protestors is for the University of California to divest from any and all Israeli financial investments and relationships that support and facilitate the genocide of Palestinians. This is an international call to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel for its crimes against humanity. 

Despite the global condemnation, the leadership of the University of California released a statement stating that the UC system would not divest from Israel. Concerned faculty, students, staff, and community members from UCSF have rejected the complicity of the University of California, including UCSF, in its enabling and support for the Israeli genocide in Gaza and categorically reject the UC system statement. 

Unfortunately, UCSF has a connection to the genocide in Gaza with the Helen Diller Family Foundation – one of the largest donors to UCSF. The Helen Diller Foundation, known for their support of right-wing extremist groups in Israel, including Canary Mission should be condemned rather than collaborated with. UCSF should condemn the destruction of hospitals and the murder of physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers killed by Israel.  

A clear condemnation would be in alignment with our PRIDE values, which have been ignored when it comes to Palestinians and the war in Gaza. 

Unless UCSF, and the entire UC system commit itself to holding Israel accountable for these crimes against humanity, concerned faculty, students and staff will continue to exercise our right to nonviolent protest and demand that the UC System divest from Israel. 

For more information about the UC wide call for BDS, you can go to our statement