Letters of Support

Letter from Palestinian trade unionists

We are writing to congratulate students at the University of Cambridge campaigning to have the University drop its contracts with Veolia. We encourage students to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming referendum, calling on the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) to campaign for Veolia’s contract to be cancelled.

Veolia is involved with bus and light rail services and the Tovlan Landfill site, serving illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. These projects increase the stranglehold of the occupation on Palestinians, entrenching the settlements and developing an apartheid infrastructure. The international community has responded to Veolia’s human rights abuses with a sustained campaign of boycott, following the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli companies and institutions. As a result, Veolia has lost contracts worth more than €10 billion since 2005.

Cutting Cambridge’s ties to Veolia would be a great contribution to this growing movement, and an act of solidarity with universities in Occupied Palestine. As Palestinian academics, we are aware that universities are never separable from their political circumstances. Palestinian universities are regularly attacked by the IDF. Israeli universities directly contribute to the occupation through military research and development.

By retaining a contract with Veolia, Cambridge is also implicated in Israel’s crimes. Dropping the contract would not be an inappropriate political intervention, but a rectification of one. Cambridge can live up to its reputation as an internationally leading institution by refusing ties with Veolia, leading the way against Israeli organizations that trample Palestinian human rights.

Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees

Letter from Cambridge academics

We write, as a group of Cambridge academics and University teaching staff, to express our support for the upcoming CUSU referendum that calls upon the University to boycott the French multinational Veolia.

As has been widely documented, Veolia are complicit with Israel’s breaches of international law because of its work in settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. For this reason alone they ought to be boycotted. The company has already lost a number of significant contracts because of its work in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Moreover, boycotting is an effective tactic; it was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of the apartheid regime in South Africa. It is a heartening sign that the growth of such a peaceful solidarity movement is now emerging in support of the Palestinian cause for independence and against military occupation.

To momentarily adopt the lexicon of the bureaucracy: in choosing to employ Veolia for its waste management, the University poses a serious ‘reputational risk’ to itself. The University’s employment of Veolia for waste management makes dubious its claims of being committed to ethical conduct. ‘Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation!’ Cassio’s lines can be heard echoing through the Old Schools.

We support all students who take part in this referendum and vote ‘yes’ to dump Veolia.

Dr. Maha Abdelrahman, Development Studies

Dr. Lori Allen, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, King’s College

Dr. Houshang Ardavan, Institute of Astronomy, Murray Edwards College

Dr. Abdullah Baabood, Director of the Gulf Research Centre, Centre of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

Mrs Nadira Auty, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Mr. Tim Cribb, Fellow Emeritus, Churchill College

Dr. Devon Curtis, Department of Politics and International Studies, Emmanuel College

Dr. Ben Etherington, Faculty of English

Dr. Lorna Finlayson, Faculty of Philosophy, King’s College

Dr. Sinéad Garrigan-Mattar, Faculty of English, Girton College

Dr. Massimo Ghidini, Material Sciences, Clare Hall College

Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, Faculty of English, Churchill College

Dr. David Hillman, Faculty of English

Dr. Michael Hrebeniak, Faculty of English

Dr. Khaled Hroub, Centre of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Dr. Beatrice Jauregui, Department of Social Anthropology, Emmanuel College

Dr. Charles Jones, Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Dr. Eivind Kahrs, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Dr. Mary Laven, Faculty of History, Jesus College

Dr. Drew Milne, Faculty of English

Dr. Basim Musallam, King’s College

Dr. Yael Navaro-Yashin, Department of Social Anthropology

Dr. Ian Patterson, Queens’ College & Faculty of English

Dr. Wendy Pullan, Department of Architecture, Clare College

Dr. Jason Scott-Warren, Faculty of English

Prof. Yasir Suleiman, King’s College

Dr. Isobel Urquhart, Bye-fellow, Homerton College

Dr. Vincenzo Vergiani, Lecturer in Sanskrit, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Dr. Christopher Warnes, Faculty of English

Dr. Lee Wilson, Department of Social Anthropology

An Open Letter from Palestinian Students to Their Peers in Europe: “Time Now to Boycott Israeli Apartheid on University Campuses”

Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

21.10.2011

We Palestinian students of the Gaza Strip wish to send a message to all European student groups in solidarity with the Palestinians to do all they can to increase Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel this academic year.

We also reiterate our support for the recent call by Palestinian Civil Society, of which we are a signatory, to end all collaborative research between European Universities and Israeli universities.[1] Research centers in Israeli academic institutions are actively involved in fuelling Israel’s huge weapons industry and tools of its military occupation and siege. It is this apparatus of violence that makes studying in Gaza so difficult, not to mention the daily toils and tragedy of Israeli apartheid policies. We, therefore,  call for an end to this compliance on all campuses with those directly complicit in the war crimes and colonial subjugation of us the Palestinian people in Gaza, the West Bank,‘48 Palestine and throughout the Diaspora.

These are crucial times as we youth in Gaza are seeing glimpses of the kinds of mass international movement that we are certain will one day bring us the liberation, justice and equality expected by others but denied to us for so long. Each university that boycotts, divests and sanctions from Israel’s apartheid regime is standing on the right side of history, just as students played a huge role in boycotting South Africa’s ugly and similarly racist apartheid regime until it fell in 1994.

Yet apartheid against Palestinians since then has only become more entrenched. In response, our call for boycott from over 170 organisations from Palestinian civil society in 2005[2] has been a lightning rod for others who can relate to our plight. When endorsing the successful boycott and ending of ties between the University of Johannesburg and Ben Gurion University (BGU) this year, the first of its kind, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

“While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation. BGU is no exception. By maintaining links to both the Israeli Defence Forces and the arms industry, BGU structurally supports and facilitates the Israeli occupation.” [3]

There was no negotiating with such oppression based on race – there was only one word: BOYCOTT. Just as students around the world were banning Barclays bank from campuses for their investment in South African Apartheid in the 1980s, this year we call on you to take similar steps to end Israel’s systematic brutality. To say, “We will no longer be complicit!”, in the decades of ethnic  cleansing, military occupation, medieval blockade that has lead to so much tragedy and broken dreams for our youth and students.

Our spirits have been raised by the BDS efforts so far in European Universities, exemplified by Kings College where students and academics have begun a campaign against the research collaboration between their university and Ahava, the cosmetics company based in an illegal settlement. Such long term campaigns are what is required, the cutting edge of international resistance. We ask you to do whatever it takes to isolate and hold Israel to account until it abides by international law and accepts basic premises of human rights and equality for all, including us Palestinians.

This year it is in your hands to see that the tide finally turns across the campuses in Western countries that most enable the Israeli regime’s crimes against us to continue. We hope you put BDS at the forefront of your campaigns and join together for the Israeli Apartheid Week[4],, the pinnacle of action across universities worldwide. And while the walls around us stop us from meeting in person, we have many students and youth happy to participate in skype conferences and other collaborations. We give you all our solidarity and send you our dearest wishes to do us proud this year.

[1] http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/dont-collaborate-with-apartheid-8202#.Tp-H9Vv9oY1

[2] http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro#.Tp-L81v9oY0

[3] http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/articles/africa/1556-israeli-ties-a-chance-to-do-the-right-thing

[4] http://apartheidweek.org/

Letter from International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN), UK

We write in support of the student campaign to “Bin Veolia” at Cambridge University, which follows the lead of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.

Veolia is complicit with Israeli apartheid: to support Veolia is to support apartheid.  Veolia must be stopped.  Veolia is operating bus lines 7 and 19 between settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. [1]  Thus Veolia is directly implicated in maintaining illegal settlements in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.

The buses run between Israeli settlements strategically situated in a seam zone – that is, an enclosed military zone that butts up to the “separation wall”.  It is forbidden for Palestinians from the West Bank to enter the seam zones and therefore impossible to make use of the bus services that run in this area.  The bus service effectively operates on Jewish-only roads for Jewish-only passengers.  Veolia is an enabler of apartheid.

Veolia, while profiting from the Israeli occupation, helps hide its illegality.   We are none of us fooled.  We know that as a result of boycott campaigns internationally, Veolia have lost $billions.  We can win against Veolia and the apartheid and occupation it builds, disguises and profits from.  Cancel Veolia’s contract now!

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK

[1] Veolia keeps silent about two bus services to illegal settlements, Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 24 August 2011

2 responses to “Letters of Support

  1. Pingback: Cambridge students vote to break contract with Veolia | Cambridge Bin Veolia

  2. Pingback: Cambridge students vote to break contract with Veolia | We Divest

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