Tampa, FL – The University of South Florida (USF) student government passed a resolution to divest from Israel Jan. 19. The vote was 32 to 12, with 5 abstentions. Palestine solidarity activists packed the chamber in the Marshall Student Center at USF to support the resolution, which includes divestment from corporations that profit from Israeli apartheid.
Two student government senators, including a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), presented the resolution that explained apartheid Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. They also tied it to the historic victories of universities’ divestment from apartheid South Africa, won by student activists in the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s.
Universities across the U.S., including USF, make investments in multi-national corporations like Hewlett Packard (HP) that profit from Israeli apartheid. This reflects the larger relationship between the U.S. government and apartheid Israel. The U.S. funds Israel with over $3 billion a year in military aid. Without this military and financial aid, the Israeli occupation of Palestine could not be sustained.
Just as they did with the divestment from South Africa movement in the 1980s, USF administrators worked to silence, block, and frustrate the students demanding divestment from Israel. At the same time, Zionist student groups like USF Hillel and Bulls for Israel attempt to demonize Palestine solidarity activists at USF. However, SJP and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) continue to protest U.S. support for Israel’s wars and occupation in Palestine, as well as USF complicity in supporting apartheid Israel through investments. The student resolution echoes the call for USF divestment from 2014, when SJP collected 10,000 student petition signatures.
“We will continue to build struggle against USF complicity in the U.S. backed Israeli occupation of Palestine. We will mobilize students to cut the contracts between USF and the U.S. military. We will protest all forms of racism or bigotry on campus like the widely opposed homophobic name of the ROTC building,” said Sam Beutler of Tampa Bay SDS.