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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Dial ‘D’ for Death: The UA and Motorola

Since the prestigious world monitoring group Human Rights Watch blew the whistle on the Motorola Corporation’s despicable role in Israel’s U.S.-backed assault on Gaza roughly a year ago, international opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been changing.

Sympathetic whirlwinds of international public opinion have been stirring to support the human rights of Palestinian civilians that were massacred — as well as the Israeli civilians endangered by their government’s cruel actions — in the military operations deemed illegal by a United Nations fact-finding mission headed by Jewish South African justice Richard Goldstone in September 2009.

The noble work of Human Rights Watch and other courageous groups around the world shows how institutions that profit from human suffering in Palestine are complicit in the crimes themselves. Such concern with human rights is brought home to the UA, considering the deadly, long-distance relationship we choose to have with companies which are illegally involved in the occupation of Palestine.

Transnational companies such as Motorola, and Caterpillar, for that matter, have no business contributing to violence. They must not interfere in the important work of the numerous health, human rights and humanitarian groups whose brave work on the ground is meant to ensure the health and safety of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.

But as long as companies like Motorola remain knowingly complicit in savage human rights crimes, we have no business dealing with them. Yet, shamefully, at the moment we are and have been dealing with them for ten years. The difference is that we, as a university, and as individuals that comprise it, cannot

control what Motorola does. We can, however, control our relationship with them.

The right thing to do is clear and very simple. The UA must restore its former human rights principles. We must use the word “”former”” here because the principles embodied in our UA mission statement, “”Policy on Corporate Relations,”” and other various internal UA laws represent a promise that is not being fulfilled. There is a substantial gap between the promise that our university shouldn’t do business with corporations that profit from “”products (that) are instruments of destruction or are known to cause harm to humans,”” and the dreadful reality that we are doing just that.

The American poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1849 to “”cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight … If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.””

In other words, to sever our financial or other ties with these companies is not such a “”violent and bloody measure”” as it is to retain them, and have the UA, and each of us, contribute to degradation of the human spirit and failure of our own humanity.

—Gabriel Matthew Schivone is an art, literature, and media studies junior. He is also a member of the student-led monitoring board University Community for Human Rights. He may be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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