Pro-Palestinians groups at Carleton University have banded together to form one of if not the largest coalition pushing a university administration to reveal and change its relationships with Israel and those connected to the Gaza conflict.

The organization Carleton4Palestine wants the school to disclose investments, divest from companies connected to Israel and its war in Gaza, and cutting ties with institutions operating in the occupied Palestinian territories or that are complicit in the war.

Carleton4Palestine (C4P) is made up of 39 groups including student clubs, student associations, unions and faculty. Among the groups are Students for Justice in Palestine Carleton, the Independent Jewish Voices at Carleton, CUPE Local 4600 and Faculty4Palestine (F4P).  

Discussions to establish this coalition began in March between a group of students and faculty staff who have engaged in discussions and negotiations with the university administration since last fall. Formed in May, Carleton4Palestine has dramatically expanded since.

So far, there has been no progress in convincing the university to meet the students’ main demands.

Other groups are expected to join the coalition in the next couple of weeks as the fall semester looms.

“As students, we want to end the complicity that Carleton University currently engages in with the ongoing genocide and apartheid,” said the president of Students for Justice in Palestine Carleton.

“We need to know that the university’s investments align with our morals, and the morals the university claims to have. From a humanitarian lens, this cannot continue right now,” said Mohammed, who requested Capital Current only use his first name,

He added recently released documents indicates Carleton invested millions of dollars in companies connected to the Israeli war machine that killed and injured tens of thousands of Palestinian children and innocent civilians.    

The Charlatan newspaper obtained the documents, dated December 2023, that the paper says show Carleton had invested about $43 million in companies tied to Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. Some are said to be arms dealers, others surveillance systems manufacturers.

“I was born in Haifa, and I was raised in Nazareth. I saw, personally, like every day, the unjust racism and apartheid. That is why I started getting involved with my activism for Palestine,” said Nir Hagigi, the president of Independent Jewish Voices at Carleton.

“We have seen actual Palestinian beheaded babies. We have seen reports saying Palestinian women got raped. We see bodies and destruction every day. It has been every day oppression for 75 years. That is what we want Carleton to divest from”

Carleton students have also been engaged in the UOttawa encampment from the beginning.

The C4P organizers said such a student encampment relies on a massive amount of community support. Having two encampments in Ottawa at the same time would have weakened the collective message students aimed to deliver.

Another reason Carleton students did not have their encampment is that the campus is isolated. Having an encampment away from direct community and student engagement during the summer would not be effective or efficient, they say.

The C4P, however, will consider erecting an encampment if forced. Organizers believe hundreds of students would join the encampment, if it takes place.    

“The students are really just asking the university to uphold their own policies and principles,” said Carleton Anthropology Professor Danielle DiNovelli-Lang, adding that it is imperative that educators encourage students to pursue their learning and to stand for their values under those conditions.

“As faculty, always, our responsibility is to our students, their education and the right to an education that respects standards of truth, dignity, and human rights.”

DiNovelli-Lang is a member of Faculty4Palestine, a national organization committed to advancing the struggle for Palestinian liberation, justice and equality through the academic sector. It was formed in 2008.

Maria Vorobeva, the Vice President External of CUPE local 4600, echoed DiNovelli-Lang, adding that they are fully committed to supporting the students until the demands are met.

CUPE 4600 represents teaching assistants, contract instructors and research assistants at Carleton University.

“We think it is important to leverage our collective voices, alongside the student body, the faculty, and the Carleton Community at large to pressure the university to divest from its $43 million of investment in war and colonialism,” said Vorobeva

“We also think It is important to actively show our support for academic freedom and freedom to protest.”

Vorobeva said she believes the demands are simple and the university has to come to the table. “Otherwise, (we’ll) strengthen our union and prepare for our next round of bargaining with the university.”