'Palestine Awareness Week' leads to BDS proposal at GW
The George Washington University student government is considering a resolution calling for the Board of Trustees to divest from “problematic companies” that do business with Israel.
Inspired by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and written by a student group called Divest This Time at GW, calls on GW to sell of any investments held by its $1.57 billion endowment in firms like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, and Hewlett-Packard.
“The reason I sponsored the resolution is fairly basic. Palestinians suffer mistreatment from these companies.”
The resolution, a copy of which was obtained by Campus Reform, goes into excruciating detail to catalogue those companies’ supposed complicity in “the furthering of Palestinian suffering.”
For example, it cites Boeing as the manufacturer of an attack helicopter used by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza, and accuses the Israeli government of demolishing Palestinian homes with Caterpillar bulldozers.
“The reason I sponsored the resolution is fairly basic. Palestinians suffer mistreatment from these companies,” resolution co-sponsor and SA senator Jack Jomarron told Campus Reform. “We have Palestinian students at our university and our endowment should not be investing in the mistreatment of our peers and, in general, we shouldn't engage in investments that profit off of human suffering.”
Jomarron said he is not affiliated with either Divest This Time at GW or the GW chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which supports the divestment initiative.
"Socially conscious investing is something I feel passionate about as a student leader and student advocate. I would support other measures that divest from problematic companies,” Jomarron explained. “This was something that was brought to me. If other measures/legislation/movements to divest from problematic situations were brought to me, I would support them as I did this.”
“I believe the University should be more transparent in their investments so we as students can understand what exactly we are invested in as an institution,” he concluded.
The resolution’s other sponsor, SA senator Keiko Tsuboi, declined to comment.
Pro-Israel groups on campus are fighting back, however, urging their members to argue against the bill at upcoming student government meetings.
The GW For Israel student group plans to speak against the motion at Tuesday and Wednesday night’s SA hearings, while the Chabad group on campus, Chabad Colonials, sent an email to students Tuesday afternoon urging them to “join the pro-Israel community in attending these meetings to show your opposition to the resolution” [emphasis in original].
GW for Israel president Jake Barnette declined to comment.
Last month, GW’s SJP chapter held a numerous events during “Palestine Awareness Week” which included a die-in protest in the student plaza in addition to a keynote address by anti-Israel activist and former Black Panther member Angela Davis.
According to The Hatchet, Divest This Time group sent an accusatory letter to the administration on March 10 asserting that “our University claims to dedicate itself to furthering human well-being while potentially investing in companies that assist the Israeli military in tactics, such as detainment, torture, killing, and restriction of freedom of movement, that contradict this value.”
The university has not officially responded to the resolution.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JacksonRichman