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Signs displayed at the UNM Palestine solidarity encampment at the Duck Pond on May 1.

Solidarity encampment demands divestment from Israel

The University of New Mexico Palestine solidarity encampment, since its formation at the Duck Pond on April 22, has supported the employment of a divestment resolution from Israel.

The resolution seeks to begin the process of disclosing investments the University has that support Israel. It also aims to halt those investments, which would cut economic ties between UNM and Israel – a process known as divestment.

The resolution was submitted to Board of Regents (BOR) Chair Kim Rael by the UNM Divestment Coalition, which consists of UNM College Democrats, Law Students Against Imperialism and 37 other student organizations and advocacy groups not affiliated with UNM. It follows the Israel-Hamas War, during which at least 35,000 Palestinians have been killed as of May 12, according to Al Jazeera.

“The government of Israel has committed countless acts which violate international law and raise concerns among international human rights organizations regarding the treatment of Palestinian civilians, the use of grossly disproportionate military force, illegal settlement expansions in the West Bank, restrictions on movement and practice of apartheid,” the resolution reads.

The resolution was first presented to the BOR through public comment at a March 11 meeting, according to Holly Velazquez-Duffy, one of the authors of the resolution.

On May 1, authors requested the resolution be put on the agenda for the May 16 BOR meeting. The request was denied, according to Velazquez-Duffy.

“We will continue to ask and advocate (for the resolution) until it is on the agenda,” Velazquez-Duffy said.

The University’s investments in Israel are unknown due to the complex system through which UNM investments are managed, according to Ernesto Longa, a UNM School of Law professor. The UNM Foundation Investment Committee oversees investments – known as endowment funds – and delegates their management through asset managers such as BlackRock.

BlackRock is one of the top shareholders in weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, according to Investopedia. The collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Israeli industries is expected to exceed $4 billion in the future, according to their website.

If the divestment resolution is adopted by the BOR, the University will investigate how, specifically, asset managers invest UNM endowment funds. UNM must hold the investigation to uncover the consequences of their investments, Longa said.

“We have a moral obligation to ensure that we're not complicit in genocide – the crime of all crimes. We're concerned that our institution has financial connections to those who are supporting and sustaining the genocide. We don't know, and I venture a guess that (the BOR) don't know, because they're not asking the questions, and we're insisting that they ask them and report to us,” Longa said.

If investments were disclosed, the process of divesting from those that lend direct or indirect support to Israel would begin, Longa said.

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Divestment from Israel would continue until “Israel brings its policies into compliance with international law,” the resolution reads.

The Israel divestment resolution was modeled after an adopted resolution to divest from apartheid South Africa in 1985, Longa said. The 1985 resolution divested from South African gold mines due to the country’s human rights violations, according to a May 7, 1985 BOR meeting.

“(The South Africa divestment resolution) urged that future UNM investment policy consider divesting from countries that engage in violations of international law and international humanitarian law – something that, to this day, has never been taken up, and so we're taking it up now,” Longa said.

If the current resolution is included in a BOR meeting agenda, they can choose to adopt it in its entirety, change it and adopt it as an altered resolution or not adopt it. Participants in the solidarity encampment hope the Regents adopt the resolution without changing it, Rakin Faruk, president of UNM College Democrats, said.

“I believe that there will be changes to our current resolution, however, we don't want there to be. But we're very expectant of the Board of Regents to make changes as they please,” Faruk said.

Nate Bernard is a beat reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyLobo

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