Hampshire College Students Win Divestment
of Companies Profiting From the Israeli Occupation
Interview with Brian Van Slyke,
coordinator of Students for Justice in Palestine,
conducted by Melinda Tuhus
In Feb. 7, Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., became the first college in the U.S. to have its board of trustees vote to divest from holdings in companies that support the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The vote was the result of a two-year campaign by Students for Justice in Palestine. It should be noted that when the board acted, the board president and the college president issued a “clarification” that the divestment decision was made “without reference to any country or political movement.”
Among the companies students recommended for divestment, due to their financial interest in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land were: Caterpillar, General Electric, ITT, Motorola, Terex and United Technologies. In response, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent supporter of Israeli policy has threatened to initiate an international campaign to divest from Hampshire College.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Brian Van Slyke, a junior at Hampshire and a coordinator of Students for Justice in Palestine. He is also the elected student member of the board of trustees, with voting power. Van Slyke describes the successful campaign, which resulted in the college divesting of approximately 20 percent of its $30 million portfolio. And he provides a possible explanation for the college officials’ denials of targeting the Israeli occupation.