BDS Earlham Letter to Earlham Community

February 25, 2011

Earlham College

To the Earlham Community;

In July 2005, a broad group of Palestinian civil society organizations called for global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel as part of a non-violent campaign to urge this country to comply with International Law, and respect the universal principles of Human Rights by ending the Israeli occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, and dismantling the separation wall, by granting equal rights to the Arab citizens of Israel(1), and by respecting the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as articulated in the UN Resolution 194 (2).

As students at Earlham College, we share “ a concern for the world in which we live and for improving human society” (3) and aspire to “work actively for the just and peaceful transformation of conflict, and for the removal of causes of violence and injustice.” (4) This means we all have a responsibility to monitor the financial actions of our College and to work to ensure that Earlham does not financially benefit from illegal occupations or violations of human rights.  Rather than calling for a complete boycott of Israel, we are inspired by the intention of the global BDS campaign in designing a campaign that is tailored to our campus, which focuses on companies in which  Earlham directly invests and companies that are subsidiaries of ones in which Earlham directly invests. We have been investigating the ties these companies have to constructing and sustaining illegal settlements, exploiting Palestinian resources, markets, and labour, and supplying equipment, knowhow, and services towards the repression of the occupied Palestinian population through the separation wall and checkpoints.  We will be completing this research (5), which we began last year, in the next month, and at that point, a list of companies from which we urge Earlham to divest will be made public.

As a committee of Earlham students of different nationalities and religions, it is our sincere hope that our community will remain open to respectful debate, avoid indiscriminate charges of anti-Semitism, be actively committed to preventing hostility between members of our community, and remain aware of the diversity of background and opinions within our community as the BDS campaign grows on our campus.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be holding informational sessions, making our research findings available to the campus, issuing a proposed divestment resolution, and working with the Earlham administration, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to raise awareness and gain support for our divestment initiative. In writing this letter, we are not only announcing our intentions, but also inviting you, the members of our community, to become involved in this campaign. We look forward to your active participation in upcoming discussions, your feedback about our findings and draft divestment resolution, and your attendance at BDS events.


BDS Earlham Committee


(1) By this, we are referring to Palestinians and their descendants who remained on the land now considered the state of Israel.  These people hold Israeli citizenship, but are not granted the same rights as other Israeli citizens.

(2) To read the call and find out more about the global BDS movement, please visit

(3) For Earlham’s full mission statement, please visit

(4) For Earlham’s full Principles and Practices, please visit

(5) For those of you interested in helping with BDS research and the drafting of a proposed divestment resolution, please contact us by e-mail at


2 thoughts on “BDS Earlham Letter to Earlham Community

  1. How will this committee deal with the label of anti-semitism, not only by countering it but also by not actually being antisemites?

    1. The short answer to your question is that there is nothing anti-Semitic about our initiative.

      Anti-Semitism is prejudice or hatred of Jews, cultural or religious. Israel as a state does in no way represent all Jewish people. As such, criticism of Israel is not criticism of Jews. As a committee, we include both Palestinian and Jewish student and we recognize that there are intense emotions associated with this topic. While we are committed to being respectful in our language and approach, we stand firm in our belief that Israel must adhere to the principles of International Law and uphold the universal principles of Human Rights.

      Thanks for your comment.

      BDS Earlham

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