Dear President Elliott and Members of the Board of Trustees,
On October 7, Hamas carried out a morally heinous attack that left well over a thousand innocents dead in Israel. In response, Israel instituted a siege and bombing campaign that is itself a moral catastrophe and that has killed well over ten times that many innocent Palestinians in Gaza.
According to interviews by The New York Times, “experts say that even a conservative reading of the casualty figures reported from Gaza shows that the pace of death during Israel’s campaign has few precedents in this century.” One out of every 200 Gazans has been killed. Most of the dead are innocents: according to the United Nations, “67 per cent of the more than 14,000 people killed in Gaza are estimated to be women and children.” The World Health Organization has reported that “On average, a child is killed every 10 minutes in Gaza.” This vast killing of innocents has led Amnesty International to urge that Israeli bombardment “must be investigated as war crimes.” Human Rights Watch has said that “Israel’s blockade of water, food, medical supplies, electricity and fuel, and denial of all but a trickle of humanitarian assistance into Gaza amounts to collective punishment of the civilian population.” The International Committee of the Red Cross has insisted that Israeli actions “are not compatible with international humanitarian law.” The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that “Considering the predictable high level of civilian casualty and the wide scale of destruction of civilian objects we have very serious concerns that these amount to disproportionate attacks in breach of international humanitarian law.” The UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory announced that it is collecting evidence of possible war crimes and has stated that “The Commission is gravely concerned with Israel’s latest attack on Gaza and Israel’s announcement of a complete siege on Gaza involving the withholding of water, food, electricity and fuel which will undoubtedly cost civilian lives and constitutes collective punishment.”
A state obviously has a right, indeed a duty, to keep its citizens safe. But even when an attack against it takes the form of an atrocity and the state chooses to respond militarily, that response must not flagrantly violate international humanitarian law or the constraints on a just war. We, the undersigned members of the Amherst Faculty, find that this is just what Israel has done. However our views may differ about the longstanding conflict in the Middle East, we are united in our judgment that present Israeli military actions in Gaza are morally abhorrent.
The Trustees have declared that “A divestment action should be considered rarely and only in the face of human atrocities that are wholly inconsistent with the moral and ethical values of Amherst College.” In our view, the destruction of Gazan civil society and innocent life over the past six weeks must be inconsistent with Amherst’s values. We call upon the Trustees not to allow Amherst College to support or invest in corporations or other entities that directly profit (to be defined as the Trustees see fit) from the ongoing Israeli military operations that are laying Gazan life and society to waste.
(We would issue the same call for divestment from any entities directly facilitating Hamas’ heinous actions [or comparable ones by any other state or organization] but for the unlikelihood of Amherst’s having such investments.)
Sony Coráñez Bolton
Nusrat S. Chowdhury
Solsiree del Moral
Mia de los Reyes
Monica M. Ringer
Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez