The Somerville Divestment Project (SDP), an organization that focuses on grassroots organising in Somerville Massachusetts, is launching a campaign to divest Somerville Retirement Board Funds of over 1.4 million dollars from bonds and companies that supply arms and military equipment to Israel. The community signature drive calls for a nonbinding ballot on the question of divestment from Israel in November of 2005.
Last year, the SDP pressured the Somerville Board of Aldermen (the municipal governing body) to pass a resolution for divestment. The measure was narrowly defeated despite several of the Alderman co-sponsoring the resolution. The SDP is now taking the first step towards isolating Apartheid Israel through divestment, directly to the people in a signature drive which will put the motion on a popular ballot.
Somerville Retirement Board has invested $250,000 in Israel Bonds, over $125,000 in Caterpillar Tractor shares and over $170,000 in United Technologies. SRB also invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in other companies that profit from Israelâs human rights violations and brutal military occupation.
All concerned with the campaign strongly believe that the residents of Somerville will be on the right side of history and will not allow their funds to support the gross violations of international law and racist policies that are imposed by the Occupation upon the Palestinian people.
Somervilleâs own divestment campaign is another telling contribution to the worldwide movement to isolate Apartheid Israel and its racist policies in occupied Palestine. Over twenty American Universities have introduced various boycotts, sanctions and divestment initiatives in order to pressurize and isolate Apartheid Israel. In India, leftist political parties who form part of the national government passed motions calling for sanctions against Apartheid Israel. Most recently the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in the United Kingdom voted in favour of an academic boycott of two Israeli Universities, and are now working towards a comprehensive boycott policy. Together with faith-based community groups, labour organizations and global civil society, these efforts represent the embryo of an anti-Apartheid movement that is finding concrete and effective strategies for investing in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and sovereignty.