A few weeks ago we went public with our campaign to get the City of Grand Rapids to adopt a divestment resolution in support of justice for Palestinians. For those interested in being part of the local BDS campaign, just send us an email and we can let you know how to get involved firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the October 13 Grand Rapids City Commission, 29 people stood before the city officials and either spoke freely about their support or read statements they had written or statements that were from organizations. You can read all the letters in support of the Grand Rapids BDS Campaign, but we wanted to highlight some of those letters here to give readers an idea of the kinds of statements people were making about the importance of this campaign.
David Alvarez – Israeli bombs, bullets, and shells killed over 500 Palestinian children and wounded thousands during last summer’s military invasion of Gaza, the third since 2008. My 14-year old son in Grand Rapids leads a normal healthy life. In contrast, his Palestinian counterpart in besieged Gaza has had to endure three major invasions since he was 8, has seen his family members, friends, and neighbors being killed or wounded, and has either been rendered homeless by the bombing or seen whole neighborhoods reduced to rubble by Israel’s weapons, which are often supplied by the United States, while all the while living in a besieged territory the majority of whose people are refugees who are not allowed to return to their homes simply because they are Palestinian. As for his counterpart in the occupied West Bank, he has been prevented from moving about freely all his life, has seen his elders harassed, humiliated, detained, injured, or killed by soldiers, police, or armed Israeli settlers, or has suffered all these things himself as a child.
This is obviously no life for anybody, and to allow it to continue unchecked and indeed to fuel it further as the US government does is to be complicit with a grave injustice. It is also to allow Israelis who support the occupation and those who support them to continue down a path that will not just bring more misery to the Palestinians but will also do profound self-harm to themselves, since oppression dehumanizes not only the oppressed but the oppressor as well. Moreover silence in the face of oppression is a form of complicity with it.
Diane Baum – Jewish supporters of Israel might say that all Jews support Israel. They might say that to be against the discriminatory policies of Israel is to be “antiSemitic.” I say that it is just the opposite that WHAT ISRAEL IS DOING IS AGAINST MY JEWISH RELIGION AND CAUSES ANTISEMITISM. As someone who attends worship regularly in a Jewish synagogue, it is very difficult for me personally to go against what many of my coreligionists advocate. I deeply respect people who sincerely practice my religion, particularly my elders whom I have known all my life. Many Jews want to silence people like me, people who speak up to advocate fairness for the Palestinians. Yet many of the same people loudly accuse the world of NOT SPEAKING UP when Jews were the group undergoing immense suffering at the hands of a government and an occupying power.
I call on the Grand Rapids City Commission to resolve to avoid dealings with companies and other entities that collude with those who profit from the oppression of the Palestinian people.
Chris Yared – For decades the Israeli government has violated international law and the human rights of Palestinians by maintaining an illegal occupation of Palestine, bulldozing Palestinian homes and giving their property away, constantly expanding illegal settlements, building the Wall, maintaining checkpoints which severely limit Palestinian access to basic needs such as work, family, medical treatment and education, severely restricting Palestinian access to water, electricity, food and other basic resources, engaging in illegal detentions, using sophisticated military weapons and technology to kill and permanently injure Palestinian children and families who have neither a military nor a place to run, and engaging in other intentional acts which amount to ethnic cleansing.
I urge you to pass a divestment resolution providing that the City will not hold investments in companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine and will not spend public money to support companies who profit from the occupation.
Rev. Doug Van Doren – This struggle may seem a long way away from the city of Grand Rapids or the business of the City Commission. However, it affects scores of people in our community who have been forced to flee, whose lands have been seized, and whose family and friends have been killed, displaced, or are living under daily threat and oppression. Further, there are times when an injustice is so egregious and when our action can truly make a difference, that we are compelled to act.
I urge you, as the Grand Rapids City Commission to once again stand on the right side of history. Act to cease and refuse to be complicit (and make Grand Rapids residents complicit) in this cycle of violence and retaliation perpetuated by the Israeli Government’s policy toward Palestinians and Palestinian lands. Stand on the right side of justice and a non-violent solution.
Lindsey Disler – The State of Israel continues its violent, militarized occupation and settlement of Gaza, deadly assaults on Palestinian people — including the killing of thousands of children—and practices outright human and civil rights abuses against the people of Gaza.
United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is the United States’ largest youth-led, student labor campaign organization. Collective liberation is central to the work of USAS, and we oppose the oppression and exploitation of peoples throughout the world.
United Students Against Sweatshops hereby endorses the Healing Children of Conflict campaign to get the Grand Rapids to pass a divestment resolution.