The following is a two-minute speech presented at Loyola University Chicago on March 24, 2015, in support of a resolution calling on the university administration to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
My name is Aiman and I am a senior at Loyola University Chicago studying political science. My Palestinian narrative is continuously being demonized and marginalized. My Palestinian voice is constantly being silence and buried beneath the ground but they do not know they are planting seeds. Time and time again, my Palestinian people have been given empty promises and false hope. The so called “peace process” has led to nothing but more Palestinians being killed, more Palestinian homes being demolished, more Palestinian land being confiscated in order to build more settlements, more Palestinian children incarcerated, and more olive trees being uprooted. The overall quality of Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza continues to deteriorate.
Nearly a decade ago, Palestinian civil society called for a movement that would put pressure on Israel to meet the demands of the Palestinian people. Today, we ask the Loyola Student Government to consider this resolution calling for the divestment from corporations that profit off of Palestinian human rights violations. We are not asking the student government to find a solution to the conflict, but we are asking that our institution invests responsibly. By divesting from these corporations we aren’t taking sides on the conflict, we take the position of neutrality. Right now we are obviously choosing a side and we simply want our university to remain neutral on this issue rather than invest in the suffering of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Aiman’s speech was one of many that were presented to the Student Government in a discussion that lasted many hours. At the hearing’s close, the resolution passed with a final vote of 16-15-2.
This is the third time in two years that Loyola’s Student Government has passed this divestment resolution. It initially passed unanimously, but the opposition demanded a revote. When the resolution won a majority of the support in the revote, the Student Government’s President put his veto power to use. Many months later, the divestment campaign has only grown in support and administrators are going to have to face, sooner or later, the reality that Loyola students do not want to be complicit in one of the most egregious human rights violations of our time.