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Christian Haesemeyer UCLA Mathematics Department Box 951555 Los Angeles, CA 90095-1555

February 23, 2014

I write this letter in support of the Resolution to Divest from Companies that Violate Palestinian Human Rights. On one level, supporting this resolution is a no-brainer, and that it is even necessary to demand this from UCLA, a scandal. Why would UCLA students want their tuition moneys invested in companies that build walls around communities, whose products are designed to be used in actions of collective punishment, or whose electronics are used to surveil and control an occupied popuation? Why would I, as a faculty member, want my pension moneys invested in such companies, making me - if indirectly - a profiteur of these violations of human rights? And yet such a resolution is what in standard discourse is called ”controversial”. Given the nobrainer status of the resolution’s goal - to avoid financial complicity of the UCLA community in violations of the collective and individual rights of the Palestinian people - what’s this ”controversy” about then? It is, of course, about the political context - the violations of human rights that the resolution aims to address are perpetrated in the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and it is understood that this occupation cannot be sustained without its infrastructure of walls, checkpoints, raids and constant surveillance. This then is what, in the US in 2014, is ”controversial”: whether or not one should ignore massive violations of human rights in order to protect the oppression of indigeneous peoples whose lands are being colonized. One more argument against a divestment resolution needs addressing: the claim that those running the investment funds have a ”fiduciary duty” and therefore must be guided solely by financial concerns in their decisions, and never by political ones. Such an argument does not survive even superficial scrutiny. Not only has UCLA voted in the past to divest from numerous enterprises for various political reasons; not only will even proponents of this argument admit when pressed that it is of course not absolute; but the whole reasoning relies on a faulty assumption: that investing in a company violating human rights is not political, while not investing is. If we step back from our opinions on the particular case at hand it is readily apparent that this assumption is absurd. Of course, as USAC recently recognized, investing in private prisons is a political act supportive of the privatization and expansion of the US prison state. Of course, as was widely accepted in the 80ies, investing in banks extending loans to the government of apartheid South Africa is a political act helping sustain the apartheid system. And of course investing in a company facilitating the violation of the rights of Palestinians is a political act providing support for such violations. So when you vote on the Resolution to Divest from Companies that Violate Palestinian Human Rights, you are deciding what is more important to you: the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people, derived from universal human rights we all claim; or the sustainment of the miitary occupation and coontrol of the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel, and the violence thatgoes along with it. No matter where you stand on the broader questions of the Palestinian-

Israeli conflict, this is an easy decision to make: for human rights, and against profiteering from their violation. With best regards,

Christian Haesemeyer

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