Dozens of protestors lined the steps of the Hannah Administration Building Thursday afternoon to demand MSU divest from Israel.
The demonstration, organized by the Hurriya Coalition — a collective of more than 20 student organizations "fighting for freedom and justice in Palestine at MSU," according to their social media — was meant to pressure the MSU Board of Trustees to divest from all investments that support Israel including direct aid to Israel, weapons manufacturers and international investment groups such as BlackRock.
As of June 30, 2023, MSU has $218.1 million invested in three BlackRock funds: BlackRock Emerging Companies, BlackRock Strategic and BlackRock Systematic China Absolute Return according to the MSU list of investments. The organizers of the demonstration argue that those investments, alongside an additional $363.8 million invested in BNY Mellon, are funding weapons manufacturers involved in the Israel-Hamas war.
Additionally, MSU has $236,114 invested in Israeli aid as well as $479,006 invested in weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
MSU spokesperson Mark Bullion told The State News that as of Dec. 2023, MSU had U.S. treasury bonds that were issued to fund Israeli aid. These bonds were purchased in March 2023, Bullion said.
Protesters at the rally chanted the names of board members, MSU Interim President Teresa Woodruff and Joe Biden immediately followed by the line “you can’t hide, you are funding genocide.” Simultaneously, several protestors held up a large canvas reading: “TRUSTEES: DIVEST NOW.”
Speakers at the demonstration condemned MSU’s continued investments in Israel and called on students to do whatever they could to pressure the university toward divestment. Other speakers added that they plan on being present at the Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning.
“(The board) has been a little preoccupied with making money. They’ve been a little preoccupied with funding genocide,” comparative cultures and politics junior Jesse Estrada White said addressing the crowd. “So today, tomorrow, and every day until they divest, we’re going to show up and we’re going to show out.”
Arts and humanities senior Alissa Hakim, who is also a member of MSU’s Arab Cultural Society, said the university should follow in its own footsteps in divesting from Israel, referencing how MSU students successfully pressured the university into becoming the first in the nation to fully divest from Apartheid South Africa.
“MSU should follow suit to what they did with Apartheid South Africa,” Hakim said. “They totally divested not just in South Africa but companies that benefitted from the apartheid such as the Coca-Cola company.”
Hakim said that MSU could go a step further by defining best practices between itself, its partners and the state of Israel.
“There’s a lot of work that they could go into to really, really support Palestinian emancipation, and to be an active voice against oppression,” Hakim said. “Especially, because there’s MSU students here who are being directly affected as they watch their homeland get relentlessly bombed.”
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