Saturday, June 14, 2014

Evergreen State College graduates renew call for CAT-free campus during commencement ceremony


Campaign demands Evergreen administration implement overwhelming student votes to ban Caterpillar, Inc products and divest from companies involved in Israeli occupation

On June 13th, 2014, members of TESC DIVEST! at The Evergreen State College launched a new campaign at their school’s graduation ceremony. A banner was dropped and graduates held up signs calling for Evergreen to ban Caterpillar, Inc. products because of their use in violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by the Israeli military. The demand to ban Caterpillar was the focus of one of two resolutions students and student government overwhelmingly supported in 2010, but that the administration has refused to implement since. The other resolution demanded that Evergreen no longer invest money in companies profiting from the illegal occupation, either from its own endowment or from the private endowment established by the college.

Banner text:
"Evergreen, it's time, CAT out of Palestine,

The graduation action marks a renewed call for the college administration to honor the student body’s call to ban Caterpillar and divest from the occupation. While the administration has found numerous obstacles to place in the path of students looking to stand for human rights, students still have several avenues open to them. First, investment decisions about the portion of Evergreen’s endowment held by the college itself are open to student pressure. In an attempt to mollify students in 2011, the administration put this endowment in the control of a “socially responsible” investment fund and allowed for some student participation in decision making. While this socially responsible fund continues to invest in occupation-related companies, and students have been discouraged from participating, the administration’s decision has still given students a valuable tool which they intend to pursue.

With these clear objectives in mind, students have launched this energetic new campaign to hold the administration accountable to the values of Evergreen’s students.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Divestment Resolution at University of Washington

Last month, UW's Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER) brought a divestment resolution to the floor of their university's student senate. While the resolution did not pass, it was the beginning of an open discussion on the campus. Below is UWSUPER's statement following the vote as well as letters of support written by TESC students and faculty. 

Press Release: UW-Seattle Students Bring Divestment from Israeli Occupation to a Vote

UW-Seattle Students bring Divestment from Israeli Occupation to a Vote

Ten UW Student groups introduce student senate Resolution to divest UW’s endowment of companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine

The student senate at the University of Washington-Seattle joins more than a dozen student bodies to formally consider recommending the university divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The bill did not pass despite broad student support and a nationwide trend of student senatesacross the country calling on their universities to divest. The final vote of 8 to 59 included 11 abstentions and a number of senators who expressed interest in learning more about the occupation of Palestine.

The bill, which focused on a number of companies directly profiting from occupation and the human rights abuses it entails, urged the University to “divest from those companies meeting such criteria within the bounds of their fiduciary duties until such companies cease the practices identified in this Resolution.” Students have already begun conversations with the UW treasury department and hope to continue to work together moving forward. According to the treasury department, as of April 22nd 2014, the UW was invested in four of the companies specifically identified in the resolution, collectively totaling nearly $6 million.

The bill was widely supported by student groups, including the Disability Advocacy Student Association, Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Atzlan, and UW Black Student Union as well as by faculty, alumni, and notable figures such as Cindy and Craig Corrie – parents of Washington State student Rachel Corriewho was killed in 2003 when a militarized Caterpillar Bulldozer operated by an Israeli soldier ran her over while she attempted to protect a Palestinian home from illegal demolition. Other supporters included Miko Peled, son of a prominent Israeli general, Jewish Voice for Peace, International Committee of the National Lawyers Guild, and organizations in Israel, Palestine, and South Africa.

UW student Peter Brannan, who presented the resolution, said, “This process has been about renewing the belief that students can make a difference not only on their campus but in the world.” Members of SUPER expressed resolve and excitement about the future direction of student solidarity with Palestinian equal rights: “We are moved by the flood of student support for this resolution. We are only more determined to build community on campus for this struggle. Other campuses show that important struggles take time.”

Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights is a registered student organization at the University of Washington dedicated to equal rights and justice for the Palestinian people.

TESC Student Letter of Support

Dear Associated Students of the University of Washington,

In the spring of 2010, the student body of the Evergreen State College passed two resolutions, one calling for divestment from companies profiting off of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and the other for the creation of a CAT Free Zone, prohibiting the use of Caterpillar Inc. equipment on campus. The result of the vote, the first student-wide one of its kind, was a resounding victory for both resolutions, passing with 79.5% and 71.8% respectively.

The voter turnout set a record at Evergreen, and was more than double the average turnout in student elections nationwide. Following the vote, the Geoduck Student Union unanimously passed resolutions supporting the student vote and directing the Board of Trustees to respond in a timely manner to the request of the student body. The Board of Trustees refused to publicly discuss the resolutions, the reason given being that Evergreen’s endowment holdings are directly tied to the UW Consolidated Endowment Fund. Consequentially, Evergreen’s ability to respect the voice of the student body and divest has been made contingent upon the University of Washington.

In 2005, 170 Palestinian civil society groups issued a call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and institutions complicit in and profiting from the occupation of Palestinian land. BDS is a non-violent challenge to a conflict which is militarily one-sided. BDS was instrumental in ending the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and, like with the Palestinian call for action, campuses and students are on the forefront of social justice.

Refusing to divest is not a neutral position; refusing to divest puts us on the side of military occupation and makes us complicit in human rights abuses. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands has been found, by the United Nations and the International Court of Justice, to be in violation of International Law. A divestment resolution may be criticized as divisive; however, like in all matters of social justice, there is no position that is not.

As well as being one of the defining human rights struggles of our time, the abuses of Israel’s occupation have direct ties to students in the Washington state. In 2003, Evergreen student and lifelong Olympia resident Rachel Corrie was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer, designed specifically for the Israeli Defence Forces, while defending a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip from illegal demolition. In honoring this legacy, the 2005 call by Palestinian civil society, and Evergreen’s 2010 student body vote to divest from the occupation, we urge the University of Washington to stand on the right side of history and to pass this resolution to divest from companies profiting from violations of international law and human rights.


The Evergreen State College’s Students for Justice in Palestine
The Native Student Alliance (NSA) at Evergreen
Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (MEChA) de Evergreen

TESC Faculty Letter of Support

We, the undersigned members of the faculty at The Evergreen State College, affirm our support for ASUW Resolution 20-39, “A Resolution to Divest from Companies Profiting from Violations of International Law and Human Rights.”

We applaud students at the University of Washington for taking this important step, which seeks to protect the human rights of Palestinians subject to Israel’s illegal occupation of their territories. We fully endorse the well-documented and well-reasoned statement they prepared in support of their demands.

The Evergreen State College has a history of engagement with this issue. We have held many public fora, and the complexities of the problem have been dissected in our classrooms. As the UW students noted, one of our own students, Rachel Corrie, was killed by an Israeli soldier as she nonviolently attempted to defend a Palestinian home from demolition. In 2010, our student body voted by a 78% margin in favor of having the college divest from companies that profit from the illegal occupation.

As the ASUW resolution makes clear, Evergreen cannot fully implement its divestment from companies complicit in these human rights abuses until the University of Washington also acts. Solidarity between TESC students and faculty and UW students and faculty can be an impetus for real change on both campuses.

We express our support for the students at Evergreen and UW who have taken the lead in putting their institutions on the side of legality, human rights, justice and peace.

Therese Saliba, Ph.D., English and International Feminism
Greg Mullins,  Ph.D.,  American Studies       
Anthony Zaragoza,     Ph.D.,  American Studies and Political Economy      
Savvina Chowdhury,  Ph.D.,  Feminist Political Economy   
Naima  Lowe,  MFA,  Experimental   Media 
Jose Gomez,    J.D., Constitutional Law       
Michael Vavrus,   Ph.D., Education   and Political Economy           
Lin Nelson,   Ph.D., Social      Science           
Larry Mosqueda,   Ph.D., Political Science   
Jeanne Hahn,  Ph.D.,  Political Economy    
Anne   Fischel,   Ph.D., Documentary Media and Community Studies        
Peter    Bohmer,   Ph.D., Economics  
Arun    Chandra,   DMA, Music Composition and Performance      
Alice    Nelson,   Ph.D., Latin American Studies       
Zoltan Grossman,   Ph.D., Geography         
Amjad Faur,    MFA, Photography  
Sarah   Williams,    Ph.D., Feminist Theory  
Paul     McMillin,   MA, Sociology, MLIS   
Miranda    Mellis,    MFA, Literary Arts    
Lori     Blewett,     Ph.D., Communications Studies 

Zahid   Shariff,   DPA, Political Theory        

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Greeners in Palestine: Elissa Goss on Israel/Palestine

Evergreen State College Senior and TESC Divest! member Elissa Goss recently returned from a delegation with Interfaith Peacebuilders to Israel/Palestine led by Cindy Corrie in which she assisted Palestinians with the Fall olive harvest. The following article will be published in Evergreen's campus newspaper The Cooper Point Journal in the coming weeks. Read more of Elissa's thoughts at her blog Acts of Humanity. If you’d like to hear more first hand accounts, check out the blog of Evergreen alum Maya Amber Harris who was on the same delegation, as well as alum David Langstaff's blog, both of whom are continuing their time in Israel/Palestine.

Elissa is eager to keep giving presentations about the delegation and can be reached at if you would like to get together and chat or set-up a presentation with a group or program.

Continuing Thoughts on Israel/Palestine
By Elissa Goss  
I was asked to write some final thoughts after my trip to the West Bank and Israel, to round out the blog posts that were printed the past few issues. I realized however, that I don’t have “final” thoughts.  The occupation is still happening, and now that I understand better U.S. complicity in human rights abuses in the region, I can’t stop thinking about it….and trying to do what I can here in the U.S. and more importantly, here on campus and in the community.

So what’s the best thing I could say at this moment? I feel that it is this: supporting Palestinians rights to self-determination doesn't mean you are signing yourself up on a list for the destruction of Israel and greater harm to Israelis. What was deeply moving about our time in the West Bank, was witnessing the majority of Palestinians engaged in non-violence through demonstrations, legal battles, and resistance through existence. The fault of media is to only draw our attention to external forms of violence and ignore the structural violence that is afflicted on Palestinians on a daily basis in the occupation.

What does this structural violence look like? Imagine you are a farmer. You had a profitable olive orchard, but the separation wall built in 2003 cut your land in half and now you are barely able to keep food on the table. Settler children from a nearby settlement ( mini-neighborhoods ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousands Israeli citizens illegally on Palestinian land)  throw rocks at your and your family when you are trying to harvest what is left of your land. The Israeli court struck down your appeal for a permit to access your olive orchard on the other side of the wall. You are not allowed to build on your property, because of “security measures” and the majority of your money goes to buying water from the Israeli water company because Israel controls all of the aquifers. You have to pass through a military checkpoint to get to next major urban area and you are delayed about 2-5 hours each time because of long lines. No one in your area is involved in violent protests. You or your family have never fought back yet you find yourself subjected to humiliation from soldiers and neighbors, who never once stop to consider your own humanity. Your partner wants you to move, they is tired of the harassment, but you cannot afford the trip and this land has been in your family since the late 1800s. It is your home, these olive trees are like children, and you want your children to inherit this. You want to live in peace.

Structural violence means that every part of your life is impacted by a barrier of some sort: denied equal access to education, land, water, food, political representation, cultural expression….it creates a life struggling to survive in a cage.

I ask that we continue to search for facts on the ground. That we listen to those struggling to have their voices heard because Palestinians are systematically shut-out and forced to subject themselves to U.S./Israel conditions for “peace”. What makes Palestinians needs for peace and justice any less important than Israel’s?

Israel inflicts a violent occupation that seeps through Palestinian life like a virus, killing them one by one, sometimes in small groups, sometimes in large bombs. It kills them through shooting at protests when children throw rocks, when farmers try and harvest their recently confiscated fields, kills their children’s ability to graduate into a thriving economy by crushing Palestinians ability to even build one, it kills them through covering their dreams of ever being able to go to the ocean, telling children and their families that they are threats before they are 5. The occupation kills by preventing access and control of important resources like water and farmland. The occupation essentially silently suffocates daily Palestinian life and growth.

Israel has an imbalance of economical, political and military power in the region and has the responsibility to end the occupation if peace can ever be possible. But it is daily and it is constant. We must recognize the human rights abuses and as a U.S. citizen, I must recognize, speak out and try to end the financial support we provide for these daily, silent attacks.

I also must connect their struggle for self-determination with voices for justice such as Jewish Voices for Peace, working to end the occupation and follow the threads of power. I must connect their struggle with the struggle of self-determination for people all over the word, resisting against white supremacy, imperialism, aggressive capitalism and other systems that dehumanize people and erases their history. I must connect their struggle with home. I must, and we must, not only look outside our border at injustice, but work to end injustice here. We must work together to understand the connections all of our struggles, find the axes of accumulated power and transform them.

I honored and humble from witnessing such strength to just survive….both there, and here in the U.S. This experience has shown me that injustice is never too complicated to understand, and justice is not impossible achieve. I understand that I have a responsibility to be apart of dismantling systems of power that favors some over others because I have had the privilege to be on the receiving end of a world superpower…at the expense of millions around the world. I am also understanding that with this responsibility, comes great joy as well, the joy of being fully human by being apart of making justice happen.

On one of the days in the delegation, we tackled a field of olive trees trying to help finish the harvest with our host families but were unable to finish. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that we were leaving so soon. One of the aunts saw that I had gotten very quiet and after I replied to her question as to why I was upset, she smiled and told me, “ Oh, we will get the harvest done. It takes all of us, but we will do it. And it will take all of you, doing the work you’re doing, to truly help us.”

She is right. Justice will take all of us if we want peace to be more than lip-service and if there is a community that I trust to do that with, it is ours here at Evergreen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Elissa Goss: Israel/Palestine & the Question of the West Bank

Student Reportback: Israel/Palestine and the Question of the West bank

Tuesday, Dec. 4th


2700 Evergreen Pkwy NWOlympia, Washington
CAB Conference Room (3rd floor of the CAB)

Please join Evergreen Senior Elissa Goss as she shares what she learned while over in Israel and the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territory this fall as part of an Independent Learning Contract looking at the economics and ideology of the occupation. This will be an informative and inspiring presentation focusing on key findings, how we frame the narrative of the conflict, and what the next steps are as part of the international movement to end the occupation. 

Sponsored by Mid-East Solidarity Project and TESCDivest!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Solidarity with Gaza in Olympia

In response to Israel's bombing attacks on civilians in Gaza, Olympians gathered in the streets to protest and to show solidarity with Gazans.

Pictures via The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Earlham College Ends Sales of Sabra Hummus!

Yet another campus BDS victory!

On September 13th, BDS Earlham, a BDS organization at the Quaker-affiliated Earlham College, announced that Earlham's Dining Services would cease sales of Sabra Hummus after BDS proponents brought to light Sabra's complicity in Israel's human rights violations against Palestinians. Sabra Dipping Company is a subsidary of Strauss Group LTD.

BDS Earlham:

The decision comes after a group of concerned students and faculty approached Earlham’s dining services requesting the removal of the product from the college’s facilities.
Strauss Group Ltd. provides financial support and supplies to the Golani and Givati brigades of the Israeli army, which is responsible for enforcing Israel’s illegal, 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, and other grave and systematic human rights abuses.

“We applaud Earlham College’s dining service for taking this principled stand and refusing to do business with Sabra Dipping Company,” said Basil Farraj, of BDS Earlham. “Earlham students will no longer be unwittingly supporting Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights when they purchase hummus and other products on campus.”

Earlham College’s dining services has promised to provide an alternative for the removed product, and were quick to note that they take student concerns seriously and follow through with immediate action.

TESC Divest! applauds Earlham College and congratulates BDS Earlham on this amazing victory.

Earlham's successful boycott of Sabra Hummus follows a victory at The Evergreen State College this past spring when Evergreen's student-run cafe, The Flaming Eggplant, announced that it would boycott Israeli products in solidarity with the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

BDS Earlham is in the midst of a campaign to encourage Earlham to divest from companies materially supporting or profiting from Israeli violations of International law and the universal principles of Human Rights.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Support the Olympia Food Co-op in the latest hearing of the Anti-BDS Lawsuit!

Support the Olympia Food Co-op at the latest hearing in the anti-BDS lawsuit

Come out and show your support for the Olympia Food Co-op at the latest hearing regarding the fees and fines from the lawsuit filed this past year in an unsuccessful attempt to force the store to rescind its historic boycott of Israeli goods.  Supporters of the co-op call for a show of community solidarity at the Thurston County Superior Court this Thursday, July 12th at 8:30 AM.

Despite the fact that their anti-BDS lawsuit was thrown out and declared an illegal attempt to stifle free speech, the plaintiffs in the anti-BDS lawsuit contend that as members of the food co-op, they sued on behalf of the store, and therefore all financial penalties that they accrued in their lawsuit should be paid by the co-op itself.  In addition, the plaintiff’s lawyer has promised to appeal, in an attempt to draw the co-op into a long, drawn out, legal battle that could last years.

The lawsuit against the co-op in Olympia, backed in part by Stand With Us, a national far-right pro-Israel group, and the Israeli Consulate of the Pacific Northwest, is part of a larger campaign to silence debate about Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Please join us to demonstrate our community’s overwhelming support for the co-op’s brave stand for Palestinian human rights and freedom of speech!

Additional information regarding the lawsuit can be found at and