Congratulations to Simon Fraser Student Society!
-IP-10: Palestinian Liberation
Palestinian liberation refers to resistance against Israeli settler colonialism and ending the occupation within Historic Palestine which includes the 48 territories (present-day State of Israel), West Bank, and Gaza.
The State of Israel was built through the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, villages, and lands. Since 1948, the State of Israel has been occupying and colonizing Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinians across the entirety of Palestine —displacing and denying the right of return to over 7 million Palestinian refugees across the world. The reality of Palestinian displacement by Israeli colonialism and expulsion is at the core of the Palestinian liberation movement and experience, especially in reference to Palestinian refugees and the right of return.
Israel enforces its settler-colonialist regime of occupation, forced expulsions, dispossessions, and ethnic cleansing—core components of eradicating the Indigenous population that contribute to the entirety of settler-colonialism—through segregation and discrimination with policies of apartheid. This state of oppression has historically organized itself through discriminatory and colonial policies of ethnic supremacy for Jewish citizens of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their rightful home. Furthermore, Palestinians at home, in exile, and the diaspora (as well as their allies) are subject to censorship and doxxing (i.e., online dossiers and blacklists such as “Canary Mission”), leading to assaults on their careers, education, and livelihoods.
As outlined in the Human Rights Watch report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” the B’tselem report “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” and the Amnesty International report “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: A Cruel System of Domination and a Crime Against Humanity,” the State of Isreal is in clear violation of public international law and its most foundational, universal norms.
The State of Israel violates international humanitarian law and international human rights law; provisions in the Fourth Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (to name but a few) are breached wherever Israeli civil and military institutions practice effective control.
There have been numerous UN resolutions denouncing the continuation of illegal settlements in Occupied Palestine, but these have been ignored by the State of Israel and international supporters. Governments around the world fail to hold Israel accountable. Multinational companies and global institutions assist in the Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Individuals, as outlined under the Nuremberg Principles I and II, are responsible for adhering to the principles of international law. Accordingly, the Simon Fraser Student Society is obligated to support the Palestinian pursuit of self-determination and resist the illegal actions of the State of Israel, guided by Nuremberg Principle VII.
In response, since 2005, Palestinian civil society has called for adherence to the grassroots Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement as one of the several acts of resistance in the overall fight for Palestinian liberation. International law, governments, and other legal apparatuses have failed to achieve justice for Palestinians, hence the grassroots organizing for BDS.
Boycott: Academic, Cultural, and Economic
- Academic Boycott: Palestinian civil society calls for an academic boycott of complicit Israeli academic institutions. Refusing to normalize oppression, many academic associations, student governments, and unions, as well as thousands of international academics, now support the academic boycott of Israel. In North American campuses, this can look like ending ties with university “Go Global” programs at Tel Aviv or Haifa University.
- Cultural Boycott: Israel overtly uses culture as a form of propaganda to whitewash or justify its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism, and apartheid over Palestinians. Just as South African anti-apartheid activists called on international artists, writers, and cultural institutions to culturally boycott South Africa, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) urges international cultural workers and cultural organizations, including unions and associations, to boycott and/or work towards the cancellation of events, activities, agreements, or projects involving Israel, its lobby groups, or its cultural institutions. International venues and festivals are asked to reject funding and any form of sponsorship from the Israeli government. Thousands of artists across the world now refuse to perform in Israel, including Roger Waters and Lauryn Hill.
- Economic Boycott: International companies aid and abet Israel’s violations of international law, including operating in Israeli settlements and acting as contractors for the Israeli military and government. Campaigning has led to major companies such as Veolia and Orange selling and leaving Israel altogether, and a range of investors divesting from Israeli and international companies (including 112 companies named by the UN). The UN and the World Bank say that BDS is having an important economic impact on Israel and this could well grow as the movement develops.
Divestment: To divest is to withdraw funds. International companies such as G4S and HP profit from helping Israel maintain its system of settler colonialism, therefore divestment campaigns increase international pressure to end complicity with Israeli’s oppression of Palestinians.
Sanctions: Sanctions were the final blow to the apartheid regime in South Africa and the BDS movement calls for sanctions against Israel by governments meeting legal obligations not to be complicit in Israeli crimes. Some governments have responded by taking forms of sanctions against Israel or steps to ensure they do not contribute to its crimes. These sanctions could include a military embargo, an end to economic links, and the cutting of diplomatic ties. This also includes for states to end all trade that sustains Israeli settlements in all of Occupied Palestine and the suspension of free trade agreements and bilateral agreements with Israel.
BDS has three demands: 1) End Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; 2) Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3) Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
The Palestinian Liberation Issues Policy is an opportunity for the SFU community to follow in the footsteps of other leading Canadian academic institutions where their community has supported divestment. Previously, the University of Toronto’s Student Union passed a motion mandating that it divest from “all firms complicit in the occupation of Palestinian Territory.” Two universities in Montreal followed a similar approach: the McGill undergraduate student body voted in favor of the Palestine Solidarity Policy, with a 71% majority, alongside Concordia University’s Student Union passing a motion against Apartheid. Additionally, UBC’s student union, the AMS, voted to call for UBC’s divestment of 9 companies that operate and profit from Israeli settlements and condemn Israeli apartheid and occupation of Palestine.
Zionism: Zionism is a colonial ideology and political movement that calls for establishing a Jewish nation-state in Palestine with a Jewish majority. Zionism in Palestine meant ethnically cleansing the Indigenous population during the 1948 Nakba, maintaining settler-colonialism through policies of apartheid. There were barely any Zionists present before the 20th century; this necessitated the oppression and expulsion of the Palestinians to create the necessary conditions for an apartheid state. Read more here.
Anti-Zionism: Opposition to the establishment and sustenance of the state of Israel that maintains a system of Jewish supremacy and colonization of Palestinian land through home demolitions, checkpoints, imprisonment, segregation, ID system, and overall subjugation of Palestinian life and dignity. Anti-zionism fits in the wider anti-colonial framework globally, including within Turtle Island.
Anti-Palestinian racism: The Arab Canadian Lawyers Association defines anti-Palestinian racism as “racism involving attacking, smearing, silencing or stereotyping of Palestinians. This racism can be implicit, overt, or systemic and can be perpetrated against Palestinians and non-Palestinians. Anti-Palestinian racism takes various forms, including: violence or the justification of violence against Palestinian lands, property, or persons; failing to acknowledge Palestinians as a people with a collective identity, belonging, and rights in relation to occupied and historic Palestine; excluding or pressuring organizations, governments or individuals to exclude Palestinians or Palestinian perspectives; denying or causing to be denied the human rights and equal dignity and worth of Palestinians; and smearing Palestinians with tropes such as being antisemitic, terrorist sympathizers, or opposed to shared national/democratic values. This also includes denial of the 1948 Nakba and enforcing the Palestinian exception to progressive politics.” Read more here.
Anti-semitism: Antisemitism is racism, hostility, prejudice, vilification, discrimination, or violence, including hate crimes, directed against Jewish people, as individuals, groups, or as a collective—because they are Jewish. Its expression includes attributing to Jewish people, as a group, characteristics or behaviours that are perceived as dangerous, harmful, frightening, or threatening to non-Jewish people. This is in specific contrast to problematic definitions, such as the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which is designed to stifle criticism of Israel and of Zionism by equating it with antisemitism. Read more at www.noihra.ca.
The Boycott, Disinvestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement: a non-violent movement formed in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian non-governmental organizations, unions, and civil society groups aimed to campaign for and protect the rights of Palestinians through the application of international pressure on the of Israel until it complies with international law.
The SFSS supports:
- The liberation and self-determination of all Palestinian people in their quest for freedom, justice, and land back, including all forms of resistance. We shall amplify the efforts of the Palestinian diaspora to bring international pressure and focus on the lived experiences of the Palestinians living in all of Palestine.
- Working with anti-colonial, Palestinian, and anti-Zionist Jewish groups and organizers, allied student groups in solidarity, community groups, and grassroots organizations who are working on or advocating for Palestinian liberation, including initiatives such as, but not limited to: workshops, teach-ins, walk-outs, protests, rallies, and other such actions via:
- Funding, partnerships, and actions that otherwise advance the cause of Palestinian liberation, including the calls for boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning the state of Israel and complicit institutions.
- The calls and actions toward the aim of the BDS movement are to:
- End Israeli occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall
- Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.
- Respect, protect, and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
- The call for initiatives in support of the BDS movement toward Palestinian liberation such as:
- Boycotting the state of Israel and institutions, companies, and organizations that fund or support Israeli apartheid and settlements. This involves withdrawing support from Israel’s apartheid regime, complicit Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions, and from all Israeli and international companies engaged in violations of Palestinian human rights. This includes an academic boycott of Israeli universities within the guidelines outlined in the PACBI academic and cultural boycott framework.
- Divesting from the current state of Israel by encouraging and urging banks, local councils, religious institutions, pension funds, and universities (including internal and external to SFU) to withdraw investments from the State of Israel, as well as all Israeli and international companies that sustain Israeli apartheid.
- Sanctioning the current state of Israel to fulfill their legal obligations to end Israeli apartheid, and not aid or assist in its maintenance, by banning business with illegal Israeli settlements, ending military trade and free-trade agreements, as well as suspending Israel’s membership in international fora.
- SFSS opposes
- Laws, policies, and practices that violate international law, such as:
- Divided and separate rule;
- Immigration for Jewish peoples only and rights specific to Jewish peoples at the expense of Palestinians;
- The building of illegal settlements on occupied territories;
- Restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement;
- Denial of Palestinians’ right to political participation;
- Inhumane acts and abuse of Palestinians’ fundamental rights; and
- Institutional discrimination and systemic domination.
- Discourse that adopts or promotes anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and any form of oppression.
- The coopting of the BDS movement to promote or tolerate any act or discourse which perpetuates anti-Palestinian racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia, and zero tolerance on any form of oppression in the name of these policies.
- Apartheid, genocide, slavery, colonial exploitation, and ethnic cleansing, which are crimes against humanity that are founded on racism and racial supremacy, and we call for the right of their victims, including descendants, to full reparation.
- Partnering with, or empowering groups through representation on decision-making bodies that;
- Censor and suppress actions in support of Palestinians;
- Allow for fostering of a repressive environment for members of such groups who support Palestinian liberation and human rights, on the basis of their members’ support for Palestinians—including using tools such as boycotts, divestments, and sanctions, or;
- That have ties to, or seek to or continue to establish, ties with the current state of Israel or any complicit institution as guided by this policy.
SFSS and SFU Documents
- SFSS Anti-Racism Issues Policy
- SFU Human Rights Policy
- SFU Responsible Investment Policy
- Decolonize Palestine:
- Human Rights Watch – A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/media_2021/04/israel_palestine0421_web_0.pdf
- Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity – Amnesty International:
- UN International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid: https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.10_International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
- UN Fourth Geneva Convention: Relative the Protection of Civilians in the Time of War https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.33_GC-IV-EN.pdf
- UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
- Implementation of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) – Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/584) [EN/AR] https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/implementation-security-council-resolution-2334-2016-report-2#:~:text=In%20its%20resolution%202334%20(2016,the%20achievement%20of%20the%20two
- Nuremberg Principles I and II and VII https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=D4D734820B8BA553C12563CD0051C97A
- Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
- PACBI academic and cultural boycott framework
- UN rights office issues report on business activities related to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2018/01/un-rights-office-issues-report-business-and-human-rights-settlements?LangID=E&NewsID=22617
- SFSS Statement on the Israeli Colonization of Palestine – Simon Fraser Student Society: https://sfss.ca/sfss-statement-on-the-israeli-colonisation-of-palestine/
- Our definition of antisemitism — No IHRA | Academic campaign — No IHRA: https://www.noihra.ca/academic-campaign
- UN RESOLUTION 194
- Statement on Motion to Support Boycott Divestment and Sanction
- UTSU approves motion to divest from firms ‘complicit’ in occupation of Palestinian territory
- McGill undergraduate student body vote in favour of Palestine Solidarity Policy
- Anti-Palestinian Racism: Analyzing the Unnamed and Suppressed Reality
- The Cultural Boycott: Israel vs. South Africa by Omar Barghouti
- United Nations Human Rights Council lists 112 complicit companies related to illegal Israeli settlements
- Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
- Anti-Palestinian Racism: Analyzing the Unnamed and Suppressed Reality https://pomeps.org/anti-palestinian-racism-analyzing-the-unnamed-and-suppressed-reality
- Except for Palestine