Amherst for Palestine Calls for Divestment from Israel

As part of its Israeli Apartheid Week, Amherst for Palestine launches a petition calling on the Board of Trustees to publicly call for a ceasefire in Gaza and start the process of divesting from the Israeli occupation.

As of April 2024, at least 30,000 people, nearly half of whom are children, have been killed in Gaza since last October. Tens of thousands more are maimed and wounded, and countless bodies are buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings, from homes to universities. Now, the entire population of Gaza, over 2 million people, are facing starvation, displacement, and illness.

Make no mistake: this mass murder is both deliberate and avoidable. Israel could end their genocidal campaign at any time, and the United States government could easily force Israel to stop because U.S. economic and military assistance is central to the Israeli occupation. But the U.S. government has not valued Palestinian lives, and has instead been willing to destroy them in the service of its economic and geopolitical interests.

To some of us at Amherst, these numbers may seem far away and abstract. But this is a delusion pushed upon us by U.S. imperialists and politicians that seek to dehumanize Palestinians and other colonized peoples around the world. The United States’ political and economic support for Israel allows Israel to continue its merciless attack on Gaza. And American companies directly weaponize, aid, and endorse the Israeli genocide of Gaza.

Amherst College’s refusal to call for a ceasefire and continued financial support of pro-Israel companies, including weapons companies, implicates each and every one of us in the mass murder, displacement, and starvation of the people of Gaza.

Amherst for Palestine joins other colleges in calling for divestment from Israel. Photo courtesy of Matt Hrkac.

In a previous statement announcing the college’s divestment from Sudan, the trustees stated that they would consider divestment “only in the face of human atrocities that are wholly inconsistent with the moral and ethical values of Amherst College.” The college’s complicity in the genocide in Gaza is sickening to the Amherst community, and we will not allow the board to claim otherwise.

On behalf of Amherst students, faculty, staff, family members, and alumni of conscience, Amherst for Palestine calls on the Board of Trustees to call for an immediate ceasefire and divest from the Israeli occupation. We invite you to stand with us in demanding that Amherst College:

  1. PUBLICLY CALL for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza by May 1.
  2. PUBLICLY CONDEMN Israel’s ongoing occupation and blockades of Palestinian territory, illegal settlements in the West Bank, and ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians by May 1.
  3. ESTABLISH a means of instituting financial transparency and establish an avenue for student/faculty/alumni/community agency over the College’s investments by Sept. 3.
  4. Thoroughly INVESTIGATE our endowment and the investment portfolio to determine if any stocks, funds, or other monetary instruments are complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine.
  5. Further, we demand that Amherst College DIVEST COMPLETELY from any investment discovered in this investigation, and COMMIT to not make any future investments in similar organizations.
  6. The results of this investigation should be PUBLICIZED for review by students, staff, and faculty at Amherst College as well as the public as a whole.
  7. The College should present the results of this investigation by Aug. 27, and communicate their divestment plan (and commitment to no further investment) by Sept. 3.

By “divestment,” we refer to divesting from entities that:

  • Directly profit from the ongoing Israeli occupation and military operations in Gaza,
  • Provide products or services that contribute to the maintenance and establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, or
  • Establish facilities or operations in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

This is rooted in our understanding not only of the mass death currently unfolding in Gaza, but also of the international consensus that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are in violation of international law. The United Nations decreed as much in both 1980, where they stated that Israel “settling parts of its population” in the West Bank violates the Geneva Convention), and in 2015.

Join your voice with the Palestinian people and people of conscience everywhere by signing this letter and demand that the Board of Trustees act now.