Northeastern Disorientation

Why We Boycott Israel

 · 13 mins read

Contributed by Students for Justice in Palestine

This article was written by members of Northeastern’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. If you would like a brief summary of the information, skip to the last two paragraphs. Otherwise, read on!


In the geographic region of Israel-Palestine, the State of Israel has created a brutal and violent system of oppression that extends from its sovereign territory in Israel to the Palestinian regions of Gaza and the West Bank. Human rights violations abound. In Gaza, 1.8 million people are blockaded into a tiny strip of land, which the UN predicts will be uninhabitable by 2020 [1]. Palestinians in Gaza are denied freedom of movement across borders and are subjected to an economic blockade. The ongoing blockade prevents any real hope of development, and people in Gaza face massive shortages in food, clean water, and building materials for housing. The blockade is currently contributing to an ongoing electricity crisis currently threatening basic services in Gaza [2].

In the West Bank, Israel and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) have created a systematic occupation with ghettos, tracking networks, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary imprisonment [3]. Furthermore, the Israeli State constantly approves new settlements, stealing territory from Palestinian villages, territory that often holds precious resources like water, which surrounding Palestinian areas are then denied. To build these settlements, Palestinians are continually forced out of their homes, and a constant campaign of home demolitions exists throughout the West Bank. In 2016 alone, 1,089 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank were demolished or seized by the Israeli government and military [4].   

In Israel itself, the Israeli government has created a system of apartheid. Arabs, whether Palestinian or not, often face discrimination at the hands of police and white citizens, and systematic discrimination in the distribution of government resources. This includes a tiered school system wherein Jewish schools receive the most funding, followed by secular schools, and then schools that serve Arab-Israeli populations receiving the least. Palestinian citizens of Israel face massive levels of discrimination in employment and land ownership. This systematic discrimination has led to a situation in which Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer from the lowest living standards in Israel by socio-economic indicators [5]. Furthermore, Israel has created a hierarchy in which Ashkenazi Jews, or Jews from Northern and Western Europe are given priority and advantage in every sector of society. Mizrahi Jews, who come from the Middle East and majority muslim countries have had crimes committed against them by Ashkenazi powers, and continue to face tension and discrimination from the Ashkenazi leaders of Israel. [6]

All this stems from the initial creation of the state of Israel. Israel was founded by partitioning Palestine, a nation where Palestinian people had been living and fighting for their rights since the 1800s. The UN and Britain both facilitated process, the former enshrining the partition in international law to legitimize it, and the latter granting the actual territory and politically assisting the zionist movement in creating Israel. Palestinians often have to fight for their very existence and history to be recognized, as Israel has historically denied their existence. The fourth Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, infamously stated that “There were no such thing as Palestinians” [7]. In the initial founding of the Israeli state, Israel fought a war against several Arab states, which Israel won. The Israeli state used the cover of this war to perpetrate the Nakba, a catastrophe wherein 750,000 Palestinian people were forced to flee the country as the Israeli military destroyed village after village [8]. These refugees have since been denied the right of return by Israel, a right guaranteed by the UN Resolution on Refugees. Palestinian refugees who have direct family connections in the modern state of Israel, or in the West Bank, cannot return. Meanwhile, any individual who can claim Jewish heritage is allowed to become a citizen of the state of Israel. The state of Israel, in addition to perpetrating many crimes against humanity today, was also founded on a program of colonialism and mass war crimes [9].

In mainstream American discourse, there is a narrative which validates the occupation of Palestine and the massacre of civilians by the IDF, and portrays the IDF and terrorist groups that operate in Palestine as equal opponents. An example is Israel’s historical justification for this blockade, which has been that it prevents rocket attacks from entering Israel. Between 2001 and August 29, 2014, 44 individuals, including 30 civilians and 14 soldiers, were killed by rockets in Israel [10]. Missile attacks were used as justification for Operation Protective Edge, a military operation carried out by Israel in Gaza between July 8th and August 26th, 2014. During this attack, 2,104 Palestinians died, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 women [11]. A UN report found that the Israeli military carried out severe human rights abuses during this conflict, such as “apparently targeting civilians not participating in hostilities” [12].

The reality of the conflict is that the IDF has far and away the most advanced military in the Middle East, and receives massive arms deals and military aid from the US, while the few terrorist groups that exist operate with homemade rockets and mortars. This is by no means intended to defend these terrorists groups. All attacks on civilian populations are reprehensible, and the actions of these groups are harmful to both Israelis and the Palestinian people. However, it must be pointed out that Israel and the IDF propagate violence at a much greater level; far more Palestinian civilians are injured and killed by the Israeli military than Israeli civilians are injured and killed by terrorist attacks [13]. Yet the narrative that dominates the political discourse of both major American parties claims that the deaths of Palestinian civilians are an acceptable price to pay for Israeli security [14].

This is only a brief overview of a vast series of human rights abuses going back over half a century. We hope it gives you a sense of the urgency of the humanitarian situation facing the Palestinian people, and an understanding of why we believe advocating for Palestinian rights is so important.

Given these facts, and the continuing situation in Israel-Palestine, it must be addressed that Northeastern is fully complicit in the systematic apartheid of the Israeli State and oppression of the Palestinian people. There are two main ways that the university has done this: through its collaborations with companies that actively maintain the occupation of Palestine, and through their endorsement of explicitly Zionist programs and narratives on campus.


The Need for Boycott

Before going into specifics at Northeastern, it is important to define the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement and how it relates to liberation for Palestinian people. BDS is a nonviolent tactic that has been used to target Israel since 2005, called for by more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups (trade unions, popular committees, NGOs, etc.). BDS is a means to strain the Israeli government economically and politically by taking money away from their country through consumer pressure. Boycotts have a rich history in promoting human rights, particularly the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The modern Palestinian BDS movement is heavily inspired by the South African BDS movement, which fought against South African Apartheid [15].

The BDS movement has three major demands: equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, the end of the occupation and destruction of the apartheid wall, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.


Collaboration with HP and Raytheon

With that in mind, SJP calls on Northeastern to cut ties with HP and Raytheon and any other companies involved in Israel’s human rights abuses.

Raytheon is the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor (the third largest in the U.S.) - an ignominious company for a university to have any kind of ties with. Its weapons have been used in human rights abuses around the world, including against the Palestinian people. It sells arms to the Israeli state that are used against Palestinian civilians in occupied Palestine. Northeastern works with Raytheon by setting up co-ops with the company, allowing them to recruit on campus, and even conducting explosives-related research for ALERT, a “partnership” run in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security that Raytheon pays into (for more info see “Northeastern & the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex”). Furthermore, Raytheon has gifted Northeastern enough money that our university has seen fit to name an amphitheater after the company. Raytheon is complicit in attacks throughout the world, including the recent U.S. missile strike against Syria, Saudi Arabia’s attacks in Yemen, Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, and Israel’s 2006 massacre of 28 civilians in Qana, Lebanon. This is company it must be specifically targeted in order to carry forward the BDS campaign and try to pressure the Israeli state, yet Northeastern has done the opposite [16].

HP’s collaboration with Northeastern is less blatant in that they mainly sell computers and printers to the University in bulk. However, the company is just as criminal as Raytheon, but in different ways. HP’s work with the Israeli state is through their sale and maintenance of an apartheid ID system that Israel uses to restrict and track Palestinians in Occupied Palestine. The system allows for extrajudicial killings by the IDF, and the effective imprisonment of Palestinian people in villages or camps that are then systematically deprived of resources. HP has committed similar atrocities on the US-Mexico border by providing ID systems and databases to ICE to speed up deportations. Northeastern must stop getting their technology from HP when it is so instrumental in the apartheid of the Israeli state and the occupation of Palestine. A movement in Massachusetts, Mass Against HP, is currently pressuring city governments such as Cambridge and Boston to end their relationships with HP because of these human rights abuses. HP has a history of these immoral business deals, and was a major target in the BDS movement against South Africa [17].


To summarize, Israel has engineered a system in Israel-Palestine that is extremely violent towards Palestinian civilians. Northeastern is complicit in this by both making partnerships with companies that facilitate the apartheid, and by endorsing pro-Israel narratives that obscure the crimes being committed by the Israeli state.

Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine (NUSJP) is committed to ending our university’s role in this violence, and to help bring an end to the violence being committed by the Israeli State. Along with our campaign to divest from companies complicit in Israeli apartheid, we host speakers, discussions, and other events. We will be having a Palestinian culture night on September 9th, 2017 at 6pm in 318-322 Curry Student Center, with free delicious Palestinian food, and a dance performance from the Freedom Dabke Group! Please also come visit our meetings if you want more information, or just to chat!

[1] UN Report on Gaza Habitability

Full Report

[2] Electricity Crisis

[3] The Occupation and Its Crimes

[4] Home Demolition

Personal Story of Demolitions

[5] An Apartheid State

[6] Discrimination and Mizrahi Jews

[7] Attempts to erase national idenitiy

[8] The Nakba

[9] Right of Return

[10] Detailed information on rocket attacks

[11] Deaths in Operation Protective Edge

[12] A Litany of Human Rights Abuses


Civilian Deaths

In 2015, for example, Human Rights Watch reported that “Palestinians killed at least 17 Israeli civilians and 3 Israeli soldiers, and injured 87 Israeli civilians and 80 security officers in the West Bank and Israel as of November 27. Israeli security forces killed at least 120 and injured at least 11,953 Palestinian civilians in West Bank, Gaza, and Israel as of the same date.”

See also: Statistics on the conflict in Gaza

[14] American Politicians Defending Israeli Abuses:

As Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts “progressive” senator has said, justifying Israel’s killing of civilians during Operation Protective Edge, “But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself.”

Clinton, of course, is a long-time, ardent supporter of Israel.

General Dehumanization of Palestinians:

[15] The illegal nature of the wall and further BDS information

[16] Raytheon information

[17] HP and Northeastern

HP in Israel


More Sources:


On Gaza Blockade:


Unicef report on Palestine:


Al-jazeera report on Mizrahi discrimination