Princeton's Faculty Petition to Divest from Israeli Occupation

On November 5, Princeton University's student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, published an advert entitled "An Invitation to the Tenured Faculty at Princeton." The invitation was for tenured faculty to sign a petition calling on Princeton University to "divest from all companies that contribute to or profit from Israeli occupation of the West Bank until the State of Israel complies with UN Resolution 242, ends its military occupation of the West Bank and lifts its siege of Gaza."

While this petition is at an early stage and states that it will be presented to University administrators before Thanksgiving, it already bears the names of 48 signatories from current and emeriti tenured faculty, many of whom are leaders in their respective academic fields.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), last summer's violence over seven weeks resulted in the deaths of 66 soldiers and 5 civilians in Israel. The casualties on the Palestinian side dwarfed this figure by a factor of 30. The same report states that Israel's bombardment of Gaza this summer resulted in 2,189 Palestinian deaths of whom 1,486 were believed to be civilians, including 513 children. The scholars signing the petition characterize this as "Israel's disproportionate use of violence against civilians."

It remains to be seen what sort of response this petition elicits both in its favor, and in opposition; and whether it encourages comparable petitions at other institutions, academic or otherwise. American institutions have lagged behind their European counterparts in their concern about Israeli settlements that are illegal under international law. While such criticism of Israeli policies remains the preserve of a minority of Americans, their voice has been growing in recent years. This petition adds the voice of scholars at one of America's most prestigious centers of learning to this growing minority.

The main text of the ad is as follows:


The following petition was begun by five faculty members in History and Near Eastern Studies and now has the following signatories. This ad serves both as an announcement of the petition to the community and as an invitation to the tenured faculty across the university for their support. If you would like to sign the petition, please send an email to: [...]. The petition will be presented to the university administration before Thanksgiving.

Deeply concerned about the brutality of Israeli military rule over Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as well as the ongoing Israeli military and economic siege of Gaza, we are Princeton faculty who can no longer remain silent.

The State of Israel has occupied the West Bank for nearly half a century in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 242. Repeated Israeli military engagements in Gaza -- in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 -- have been condemned by many, including the United Nations, for Israel's disproportionate use of violence against civilians. Moreover, settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue expanding. As of 2012 there were over half a million settlers and this August, just days after the conclusion of hostilities in Gaza, the Israeli government seized nearly 1,000 acres of land near Bethlehem. This seizure was the largest since the 1980s and drew a sharp rebuke from the United States government.

It is time for Princeton University to join the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the Mennonite Church, the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation, and Teachers Insurance and Annuity (TIAA-CREF), and divest from all companies that contribute to or profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and continued siege of Gaza. The Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church have divested their holdings of Caterpillar because its equipment is used to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank; of Motorola because it provides the State of Israel with a communication network, a surveillance system, and electronic bomb fuses used in the occupation regime; and of Hewlett Packard which sells its products to the Israel Defense Forces and provides bio scanners that are used to profile Palestinians and track their movements.

We, the undersigned tenured faculty, therefore call on Princeton University to divest from all companies that contribute to or profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank until the State of Israel complies with UN Resolution 242, ends its military occupation of the West Bank and lifts its siege of Gaza.

We do so united by our conviction that moral pressure from the international community can help to bring about political transformation in the region as well as to support the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis to live in lasting peace and security.

The five faculty members who started the initiative are:
1. Molly Greene
2. Michael Laffan
3. Gyan Prakash
4. Cyrus Schyegh
5. Max Weiss

The undersignatories of the published ad are:

6. Peter Andolfatto
7. Benjamin Baer
8. John Borneman
9. Graham Burnett
10. Eduardo Cadava
11. Vera Candiani
12. Miguel Centeno
13. Zahid Chaudhary
14. Isabelle Clark-Deces
15. Andrew Cole
16. Linda Colley
17. Angela Creager
18. Andrew Dobson
19. Esther da Costa Meyer
20. Benjamin Elman
21. Richard Falk (Emeritus)
22. Hal Foster
23. Eddie Glaude
24. Josh Guild
25. John Haldon
26. Abdellah Hammoudi
27. Thomas Hare
28. Tera Hunter
29. Amaney Jamal
30. Kevin Kruse
31. German Labrador Mendez
32. Meredith Martin
33. Douglas Massey
34. Pedro Meira Monteiro
35. Zia Mian
36. Erika Milam
37. Naomi Murakawa
38. Nick Nesbitt
39. Gabriela Nouzeilles
40. Chika Okeke-Agulu
41. Serguei Oushakine
42. Elizabeth Paluck
43. Imani Perry
44. Gayle Salamon
45. Kim Scheppele
46. Robert Tignor (Emeritus)
47. John Waterbury (Emeritus)
48. Michael Wood (Emeritus)