Roger Waters, Desmond Tutu urge student senators at UC Riverside not to back down on divestment vote

Tonight at 6pm Pacific, student senators at the University of California at Riverside will assemble to vote on whether or not to rescind the recent passage of a divestment resolution, as I reported last night. Students involved with Palestine solidarity activism groups across the country are offering support and encouragement to the Associated Student body at UC Riverside, using the hashtag #UCRdivest on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Mondoweiss reported earlier today that both Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and rock legend Roger Waters (who was recently interviewed on EI) immediately sent letters of support to the UC Riverside student senate, urging the senators not to back down on the vote.

Tutu stated:

Dear Associated Students of the University of California Riverside,

Your vote in support of “Divestment from companies that profit from apartheid” was an important statement of principle. The fact that companies are profiting from Israeli apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories and comfortable with dozens of discriminatory laws within Israel is appalling. I have seen the deeply troublesome apartheid conditions that Israel has created inside the West Bank with the dual standard of law that discriminates against Palestinians. It is unacceptable.

I urge you to stand firm for equality and human rights — as well as against racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism — and not to backtrack on your courageous vote. Just as we defeated apartheid in South Africa so can we defeat Israel’s brand of apartheid and help Palestinians and Israelis alike secure a future of peace and equality. Your vote is not insignificant. It is votes such as yours that created the wave of momentum toward freedom in South Africa and sped up that glorious day of justice and equality in my homeland. The same thing can happen again today in securing freedom for Palestinians.

Do not stand silent. Do not retreat. Do not back down. Stand firm in your principles and reject apartheid wherever it is practiced. Your courage is admirable as you put your university on the right side of history.

and Roger Waters wrote:

Dear Senators of University of California, Riverside:

Many congratulations on passing a bill calling for divestment from corporations that abuse human rights in occupied Palestine. You are part of the growing, non violent, resistance, in global civil society to Israel’s many violations of international law. I just heard on the grapevine that there will be an attempt to hijack and reverse the bill by the pro Israel lobby at a meeting tonight. Be strong, you are on the right side of the argument. It is always right to support the oppressed. The founding fathers, the authors of the constitution of these United States of America were right to avow that “All men have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That sentiment includes The Palestinian and Israeli peoples, it includes Rachel Corrie, killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer, and all the other victims of the occupation on both sides. You are part of the first stirrings of protest, not against Israel, not against the Israeli people, not against Jews, but against the illegal, unjust, immoral, and inhumane policies of the Israeli government. I am proud of you and stand with you in solidarity.

In related news, students at the University of California at Santa Barbara are having a preliminary presentation this evening in which they will introduce a divestment resolution of their own. You can follow developments on Twitter at @UCSBdivest




Stand strong, stand united, stand always against injustice.
As a student activist in my college days, I am committed yo justice to all and proudly so.
All the students of good consciousness should be shoulder to shoulder with you and your support for the Palestinian people.

Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).