VIDEO: DePaul students cite 'feminism,' 'queer issues' in Israel divestment campaign

Campus Reform Reporter

  • The campaign to divest from israel is being led by DePaul Divests.
  • Feminist Front posted a video supporting the campaign on Jan. 21.
  • The students in the video claim that Israeli "methods of occupation historically target women, through violence, kidnapping, and rape" and that "Israeli forces target queer folks with blackmail."
  • Students demanding DePaul University divest from Israel are calling their campaign “a feminist issue” and “a queer issue.”

    On Jan., 21, Feminist Front, a student group at the Catholic university, posted a video in which members claimed the divestment movement is a feminist issue because Israeli “methods of occupation historically target women, through violence, kidnapping, and rape.”

    The same video alleged that “Israeli forces target queer folks with blackmail.”

    These statements are in response to a petition circulated by DePaul Divests, the student organization spearheading the campaign.

    “Through its mutual funds, DePaul University invests our tuition money in corporations that manufacture weapons and provide surveillance technology to the Israeli government,” the petition claims.

    The petition highlights companies like Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Caterpillar, claiming they profit from Israel’s alleged “violation of the human rights of Palestinians, African migrants, and other minorities.”

    The petition also accuses Israel of violating “people's rights to life, movement, healthcare, education, and freedom.”

    On its website, DePaul Divests lists a number of testimonies from supportive organizations including black, Chicano, transgender, and feminist student groups.

    Triota, the school’s Women’s and Gender Studies honor society, writes that it, “recognizes that our own struggles as feminist, anti-racist activists are inextricably linked to the work of DePaul Divest.”

    “Sexual violence and racism are both part of the humanitarian violations being perpetrated upon the Palestinian people,” the statement reads. “We know that all oppression is connected and that our work cannot be done in isolation.”

    Mick Silverman, the Vice President of Students Supporting Israel at DePaul, said allegations of sexism and anti-LGBT activity are “absurd” and have no supporting evidence.

    “Israel is the only egalitarian democracy in the region and protects equal rights for all races, genders and sexual orientations,” Silverman said in an email to Campus Reform. “Not to mention, Israel’s history as being a haven for the LGBT community of the Middle East as the Aguda organization strives to grant asylum to LGBT people from West Bank and surrounding areas.”

    “If this organization was really concerned with women's and LGBT welfare, they’d turn their attention to Gaza where Hamas stones women accused of adultery or to the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority where honor killing girls for ‘dishonoring their family’ is acceptable,” he continued.

    Brendan Newell, chair of the DePaul Young Americans for Freedom chapter, told Campus Reform that the movement's momentum on campus has already "died out."

    "[DePaul Divest's] next step was to appeal to the Fair Business Practices Committee (FBPC), and the campaign was thrown out by the committee, meaning they have practically nowhere to go," Newell said.

    Representatives from Triota, and Trans*(formation), did not respond to requests for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @emilyjashinksy