March 4, 2013
To the Board of Trustees – Stanford University
My name is Alan Wieder and I am a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina. I have also served on the faculties of the University of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The South African positions, as well as my continuing research on people that led and fought in the war against apartheid, is relevant because I am writing to support the call for divestment by the Students for Palestinian Equal Rights and their allies at Stanford University.
While many Americans and Israelis who seek to silence those who are critical of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and oppression of Palestinian people hate the comparison with South African apartheid, the parallels are relevant – especially when the discussion is about divestment. There were various reasons that apartheid ended in South Africa – divestment was one of the elements. One of most outspoken proponents of divestment in the case of Israel is South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu:
One of the reasons that Bishop Tutu emphasized divestment is his clarity on the importance of non-violence. While the Palestinian struggle has often been portrayed as violent, non-violence is more the spirit of BDS. Judith Butler spoke to the issue in a speech at Brooklyn College.
In the 1980s nations throughout the World opted for divestment in the case of South Africa. For those South Africans who opposed and struggled against the apartheid regime the support was not only welcome but also essential. The same is true today for Israelis who abhor both the governmental and societal oppression of Palestine. I conclude citing the words of two Israeli historians – they make the case of why Stanford University should take divestment seriously and act. First, Ilan Pappe:
Finally, Neve Gordon:
Alan Wieder taught at the University of South Carolina for over 20 years where he taught Social Foundations of Education, Antiracist Education, and Qualitative Research. While he has completed numerous studies on race and education in the United States; he has spent the last 10 years working on oral histories of teachers who fought apartheid in South Africa.