To our peers at The Evergreen State College:
Seven years ago, Rachel Corrie, one of Evergreen’s students, was deliberately run over by an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar bulldozer as she prevented that bulldozer from demolishing a Gazan home. There is no week that passes without the Israeli army killing or wounding Palestinian civilians, without settlers harassing or attacking Palestinians, without the occupation forces demolishing Palestinian homes, destroying Palestinian farmland, and uprooting Palestinian olive trees. Their suffering occurs anonymously, when it is noticed at all—their stories buried underneath the rubble of their dead homes, their sorrow forgotten amidst a relentless campaign that tries to render it invisible.
We are writing to you as fellow students suffering from a deadly, hermetic siege in Gaza, who are prevented from pursuing further education inside Gaza or outside it. In all of the 35 academic institutions in the Strip, the shortage of books, educational material, and stationery leads many professors to resort to material edited from the internet, for their students to print or photocopy. The dropout rate grows higher every day, as students abandon their studies as a result of the high energy prices caused by fuel scarcity, discouraged by the difficulties of studying by candlelight, or structurally prevented from studying due to the lack of adequate or affordable transportation to their educational institutions.
Thousands of students, some of whom are minors, work in the tunnel industry, a life-threatening occupation to support their families and pay their tuition. The bombardment of these tunnels by the occupation forces and the pumping of mustard gas by the Egyptian authorities have suffocated many of these students, killing them. You will not hear their names on news broadcasts nor read them in newspapers around you. Palestinian dead are not only nameless and faceless. They don’t even exist. They are without remembrances.
Friends, we strongly believe that through steadfast campaigns and grassroots efforts, those dissident voices—people of conscience and bravery—will be victorious. We remember the initial difficulties that the call for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) against Apartheid in South Africa encountered. It is important to mention that according to renowned anti-Apartheid South African activists, what we have achieved through the BDS call since 2005 is what BDS in South Africa came to achieve in 30 years!
The Congress of South African Trade Unions; the Irish, British, and Scottish trade unions; Sussex University of the UK; Hampshire College and University of Michigan–Dearborn of the United States; the sovereign states of Bolivia and Venezuela—all have endorsed the BDS call. During the Israeli aggression of December 2008 to January 2009, there were student occupations of more than 30 campuses in the UK.
From under the rubble of our destroyed homes, haunted by the traumatic memories of the 22-day bombardment of Gaza last year, of the buzzing Israeli surveillance planes above our heads, the naval gunboats firing from our sea, and the Apache helicopters, F-16, F-15, and F-35 planes dropping chemical, burning death on us from the skies, we salute your creative and courageous solidarity initiative to divest from companies that support the heinous crimes that the Israeli occupation is responsible for in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The striking imbalance in power can only be overcome through an intensive and consistent international solidarity movement: namely, the BDS effort.
It is through these global solidarity movements that the Israeli Apartheid regime will be held to accountability. Through the support of freedom-loving people of conscience like yourselves, the blood of the families wiped off the map during Gaza 2009 will be redeemed, and their surviving kin will come to live in peace—the calming peace of justice achieved.
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)