Established in 2003, DukeDivest described itself as “a group of concerned students, faculty, staff, and alumni calling upon Duke University to … divest from companies that do military business with Israel.” Condemning the “diplomatic, military, and financial support” which the United States gave “to Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian lands,” the organization stood “in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination” and sought to “pressure the Israeli government to comply with international law.”
The DukeDivest petition included the following statements:
“We, the undersigned members of the Duke University community, are appalled by the human rights abuses against Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government, the continual military occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory by Israeli armed forces and settlers, and the forcible eviction from and demolition of Palestinian homes, towns, and cities.... We believe that our university ought to use its influence—political and financial—to encourage the United States government and the government of Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinian people. We call on Duke University to divest from all companies with military ties to Israel, until these conditions are met: Israel is in compliance with United Nations Resolution 242, which notes the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, and which calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from occupied territories; Israel is in compliance with the United Nations Committee Against Torture 2001 Report, which recommends that Israel’s use of legal tortures be ended; Israel is in compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention … [and] ceases building new settlements, and vacates existing settlements, in occupied Palestinian territories; Israel acknowledges in principle the applicability of United Nations Resolution 194 with respect to the rights of refugees; [and] Israel accepts and implements the principle of a viable, internationally recognized state acceptable to the Palestinian people.”
Among the 265 signatories to the foregoing petition were professors Miriam Cooke, Michael Hardt, Frederic Jameson, and Becky Thompson.
In an effort to rationalize its positions and proposals, DukeDivest claimed, falsely, that “torture is endemic and systemic—part and parcel of the Israeli Occupation and Israel’s security culture”; that the Israeli government regularly employed torture against “left wing” political activists; and that it was “valid” to liken the Israeli government to South Africa’s former apartheid regime.
DukeDivest became inactive in 2006.