Home Opinions Talk It Out: Divest from Israel

Talk It Out: Divest from Israel

An illustration showing a pair of red scissors cutting a string representing a relationship between the U.S. and Israel.
Illustration by Makenna Timoteo | Staff Illustrator

In March 2017 the United Nations reported that the question of whether Israel could become an apartheid State in the future had become irrelevant; Israel, the report stated, had already become an apartheid state. Two months later Gov. Abbott proudly signed a bill prohibiting state agencies, including public universities, from boycotting or contracting companies that boycott the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

One year later, on May 14, Israel unleashed fury upon Palestinian people, killing at least 59 and injuring more than 2,700 individuals during mass protests. Now, when it is most vital to act, Texas students are not guranteed their tuition dollars will not end up facilitating brutal human rights violations the Israeli government is carrying out.

The restrictions the Texas legislature put on public universities to formally engage in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are clear violations of American constitutional rights.

The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in NAACP v. ClairborneHardware Co. (1982) that boycotts to bring political, social and economic change are indisputably protected under the First Amendment. It is then entirely unconstitutional for the state to penalize companies and institutions for engaging in peaceful political resistance.

Currently, Texas State helps fund the occupation of Palestine most notably through partnerships with Sabra Dipping Co. and Hewlett Packard.

Sabra hummus may be found at any convenience store on campus. According to Forbes, The Strauss Group funds the Israeli Defense Force’s Golani Brigade and owns half of Sabra Dipping Co. The Brigade has been actively involved in every conflict with Palestine since the Israeli State’s founding.

As for HP, every computer lab on campus is equipped with their scanners and printers. Their custom-made technology can be found at every major checkpoint along the West Bank, playing an active role in controlling and restricting the movement of Palestinians.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least five categories of major violations under international human rights laws characterize Israeli occupation. Among them are unlawful killings, development of settlements, forced displacement, unjustified restriction of movement and abusive detention.

HRW cite that in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 Israeli troops killed over 2,000 Palestinian civilians and targeted civilian structures. Since 1967, authorities have facilitated illegal settlements in the West Bank, violating the Fourth Geneva Convention. They illegally demolished homes and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, while simultaneously restricting movement to and from the Gaza Strip.

It is enormously important that students who are opposed to funding these violations do what they can to resist them. It is also vital to be aware of where the first step lies. In this case, it is not with school administrators, but with the state legislature.

It would be dishonest to not acknowledge the crimes committed by armed Palestinian groups. According to HRW, between 1987 and 2017, Hamas killed 1,079 Israeli civilians and have arrested and abused a number of peaceful dissidents. However, these violations were not directly funded and facilitated by the United States.

Anti-BDS groups, like the Anti-Defamation League, argue BDS movements have been partially responsible for increased anti-Semitic violence seen across the US. Whether or not BDS movements are at fault, the increase of violence is real. On campus, there have been anti-Semitic, white supremacist flyers plastered on walls, making Jewish Bobcats fear for their safety.

Any organized Palestinian liberation movement that arises on campus must be ready to strongly condemn any anti-Semitism on campus. Likewise, it is in their best interests that Jewish Bobcats join the efforts against the American-funded Israeli violence directed at Palestinians.

Such a complicated issue requires genuine dialogue between people with different experiences and concerns. To pretend to have the answer for this conflict is arrogant at best. However, funding the continued massacre of Palestinians is indefensible and the state legislature’s violation of free speech is unacceptable. The university needs an organized movement to defy both.

– May Olvera is a journalism senior


  1. I’m curious to know how Ms Olvera defines “the occupation of Palestine”.

    Maybe I would have an iota of respect for her and her cause if she recognized a two-state solution – one majority Jewish and one majority Arab living side by side in peace.

    Unfortunately, judging from the harsh tone of this polemic I would bet she considers Tel Aviv part of “the occupation of Palestine”.

  2. It would be difficult to find anything remotely accurate in this unintentionally-hilarious, Orwellian-rewriting of history masquerading as an anti-Israel editorial, but I will restrict myself to the following point:

    The myth of Arab Muslim victimhood is cheap propaganda stemming from the failed Arab attempts to destroy Israel and throw its Jewish population “into the sea.”

    The anti-Israel left continues to pander to the irrational, bigoted demands of the Middle East’s Arab Muslim majority to suppress the region’s only non-Musllim state in favor of yet another Arab Muslim country.

    That blatant disregard for the rights of anyone who is not an Arab Muslim is precisely the reason why the Jews of Israel had to fight for national independence.

    The mere existence of Israel proclaims the national rights of the Jewish INDIGENOUS population of Israel; a country and a people that predate Arab colonialism and will outlive it as well.

  3. It would be difficult to find anything remotely accurate in this unintentionally-hilarious, Orwellian-rewriting of history masquerading as an anti-Israel editorial, but I will restrict myself to the following point:

    The Fourth Geneva Convention is not even applicable. The presence of the IDF East of the 1949 armistice line is not a belligerent occupation in the traditional sense because there is no state that is occupied.

    Furthermore, under international law Jews are entitled to live anywhere in the West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank and Gaza strip never belonged to any sovereign ruler after the British withdrew from mandatory Palestine; before that it was part of the Ottoman Empire.

  4. Even if Texas State University wanted to do what you argue for, they cannot, because as a recipient of state funding allotted by the Texas legislature, they must follow a law Governor Greg Abbott signed (HB 89, or the anti-BDS Bill) in 2017. So this is really a moot point, though theoretically Texas State could consciously only choose to do business with companies who are solely neutral and do not boycott.

  5. —–Original Message—–
    From: kaufman
    To: charlesok
    Sent: Mon, Jun 25, 2018 4:08 pm

    This editorial is simply devoid of facts. Let’s start with the highly inflammatory use of the word “apartheid” in describing Israel. Israel is a Western democracy, a pluralistic, diverse society. Arabs serve on the highest courts in the country, in the military; enjoy economic freedom; and enjoy freedom of worship. 
    Apartheid, an Afrikaans word meaning “separateness,” was a rigid policy instituted policy in the Republic of South Africa that specifically addressed racial, economic and political segregation of the nonwhite population. This condition does not exist in Israel. Period. It is a fiction used to drum up opposition against a free country and whip up frenzy for the automatic, mathematical opposition to Israel in the ever-present corrupt entity called the United Nations, which defies logic and history in denying that Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish people for more than 3,500 years. In fact, the refugee camps you may read about no longer need to exist, but Palestinian leadership use them to attract funding, aid and sympathy. They are just a small part of the narrative of being a victim.

    Secondly, Israel is not “occupying” this land. Aside from history documented through repeated archeological finds, the United Nations created the two-state solution in 1947. There would be a Palestine had the Arab world chosen to accept the UN plan and not accept a strategy of destroying Israel.

    Arab neighbors did not accept the vote and declared war on the Jewish people and its modern state. They gambled and lost as Israel was victorious against all odds. Subsequent wars in 1956, 1967, 1973 yielded more territory for modern day Israel. 
    In fact, Israel gave back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt as part of a peace agreement. It allowed Jordan to maintain supervisory powers over the Temple Mount and has carved out West Bank communities for Palestinians (Area A communities as defined by the Quartet of parties).

    Israel withdrew 8,000 settlers from Gaza and gave the coastal land, not to mention 300 productive greenhouses, to Palestinians. What did they do? Instead of showing the ability to build a state, Palestinian leadership destroyed the greenhouses and subsequently turned much of Gaza into a warzone, launching thousands of missiles from hospitals, mosques, UN schools and even private homes into Israeli communities. They’ve used hundreds of millions of dollars to materials used to build tunnels into Israel to engage in kidnappings and other terrorism. This isn’t propaganda or some false narrative. These are facts.

    Today’s Gaza protests aren’t protests at all. They are orchestrated military actions carried out by Hamas, encouraged civilians, even children, and some combatants who wear “PRESS” jackets. Instead of choosing to come to the negotiating table, the Palestinian leaderships continues its 70-year plan to destroy Israel.

    The IDF has taken mostly a defensive posture in all of this activity, but the narrative the Palestinians sell to the world through the lenses of television cameras and social media is that innocent victims are being butchered at the hands of these viscious stormtroopers. In fact, the IDF has been recognized as exercising unusual takes in warning civilians to move away from Hamas operations and notifying the public about potential and actual retaliatory raids.

    With the rise of the Intifada and years of terrorism from the 1980s, Israel attempted to coax the Palestinians to the negotiating table. Even in the face of freezing settlements in the West Bank for the better part of a year, the Palestinians still would not come to the negotiating table. The Palestinian Authority would be created out of the Oslo Accords. While “elected” leaders dressed to look like diplomats, the strategy of destroying Israel and the Jewish people remained in their covenant and school curricula.

    Itzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and other former Israeli Prime Minister offered more than 90 percent of the West Bank and an arrangement over the Temple Mount. Israelis mostly opposed it. So did the Palestinian leadership.

    Peace to the Palestinians means the destruction of Israel. That’s not happening. In fact, Arab leaders are losing interest in the decades-long shenanigans of the Palestinians and Mr. Abbas. Well, except for Iran, which not only wants to destroy Israel and the United States but conquer the world. 

    Hamas now wants to sell itself as anything but a terror organization. And this brings us to BDS, the newest strain of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel behavior and contributes nothing to peace efforts. You think Texas State is “helping to fund the occupation of Palestine” through partnerships with Sabra Dipping Co. and Hewlett Packard, despite the propaganda to the contrary. This is ridiculous. Quit reading the propaganda. As a matter of fact hundreds of thousands of Palestinians find work in Israeli companies in the main of Israel and in West Bank communities. (Example: Sodastream).
    Do you want to know who is doing the most harm to the Palestinians? Hamas and the Fatah leadership. The death toll you cite from Human Rights Watch or provided by Palestinians just to make themselves appear as victims. Fewer and fewer people are buying this manipulation of information. Yes, the IDF and Israeli police are very tough in breaking up terrorism before it happens and after it happens. They also stand idle as they are showered with stones and verbal abuse. Now famous are videos on social media of fathers and mothers urging IDF soldiers to shoot or harm their small, flag-waving children? The soldiers hand them candy. 

    How many Palestinian deaths are actually combatants of Hamas and Hezbollahs? How many Palestinian deaths are recruits (even young adults) whose families are rewarded ($25K) to participate in suicide bombings? How many school children are being poisoned with an “education” that fosters killing of Jews and destruction of Israel? You know where these testimonies are coming from? Not Israel. They’re coming from Palestinians who are saving themselves by coming to Israel.
    The world is losing patience with the Palestinian leadership. The world can only hope that a new generation will rise and seek an option that gives Palestinians an opportunity to end the hate and carve out a future for themselves, one in which terrorism is no longer needed, one in which economic prosperity and freedom can flourish.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

4 + 17 =