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