The Associated Students of the University of California Senate voted 11-9 to support divesting $14 million from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Cement Roadstone Holding due to their support for the State of Israel and Jewish communities within Judea and Samaria. The debate was very heated and went on for eleven hours. The divestment resolution, titled “A Bill in Support of Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza,” labeled Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to being akin to antisemitism, Islamophobia, and racism; compared Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria to apartheid, foreign occupation, and colonialism; and claimed funding Israel’s security apparatus to be akin to supporting Palestinian terror groups. In the resolution, Israel was compared to the apartheid government in South Africa and the Sudanese regime.
INDEPENDANT STUDENT ORGANIZATION
Earlier on, Robert J. Birgeneau, the chancellor of U.C. Berkeley, proclaimed, “As you all know, the ASUC is an independent student organization, and its vote in this matter will not change investment policy established by the Regents of the University of California. In addition, it is my personal opinion that targeting a single nation or state in this highly complex world is not appropriate and does little to advance the cause of peace and coexistence. Ultimately, we believe that engaging in dialogue on these difficult issues is the best hope that we have for achieving peace. It is the path that we hope world leaders will follow and our students will emulate.” Nevertheless, although the resolution cannot compel the university to divest, it nevertheless contributes towards the delegitimization of the State of Israel.
In response to this resolution, Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelmin of the Berkeley Hillel declared, “It is unfortunate that the ASUC has voted in favor of SB160 to support the divestment of three companies. Let us put this in perspective: After eleven hours of debate, lasting to the early morning, it passed with a vote of 11 in favor and 9 against; there were more student senators who voted against this bill than in previous years. The passage this year was closer than ever before. […] We believe that this vote represents only the narrow, individual opinions of the ASUC leadership and is not reflective of the majority of the students they were elected to represent. Let us be clear: This divestment bill did not originate on this campus but is part of an international effort to sow discord on college campuses and unfairly tarnishes Israel.”
“Divestment does nothing to better the lives of Palestinians,” said political science professor Ron Hassner. “It seeks to undermine, harm and destroy and offers no vision of an Israeli-Palestinian future.” Noah Ickowitz, a student at the University of California at Berkeley, also proclaimed, “We will take home that an amendment asking for a two-state solution was failed. We will take home that an amendment asking for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was failed. We will take home that this body takes divestment as a weapon of choice when that is not the only weapon in our arsenal.”
Even though the divestment bill passed, ASUC President Conner Landgraf has the ability to veto it within seven day after the vote. This means that he has until April 24, 2013 to veto this bill. In the past, divestment resolutions have been defeated at the University of California at Berkeley by presidential vetoes, which can only be overturned with a two-thirds vote.
Please write President Conner Landgraf to veto this bill!
Dear President Landgraf,
As a concerned citizen, I am deeply disturbed that the Associated Students of the University of California Senate voted in favor of divesting from the State of Israel. I am writing to you today to encourage you to veto SB160. This is a one sided and biased bill is backed by the international BDS movement, who is opposed to peaceful coexistence with Israel, preferring to support eliminating Israel’s very existence. As Chancellor Birgeneau said “targeting a single nation or state in this highly complex world is not appropriate and does little to advance the cause of peace and coexistence”. Your leadership and clear thinking is crucial at this critical time. Thus, I urge you to stand up for the Middle East’s only democracy, the only country in the region that Freedom House ranks as free, by vetoing this unfair bill that doesn’t accurately portray the reality in the Middle East.
All the best,