March 5, 2013
Associated Students of the University of California, San Diego Associated Students Department
9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0077
La Jolla, CA 92093-0077
To the Council of the Associated Students of the University of California, San Diego:
As elected officials of UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC), we are writing to you to urge you to reject the “Resolution in Support of the University of California, San Diego Corporate Accountability through Divestment from Corporations Profiting from the Illegal Occupation, Siege, and Blockade of Palestine” on March 6, 2013.
We deem this resolution inappropriate and unacceptable because, based on over four hours of public comments made last week, it is clear that the resolution is not representative of the views of the majority of the student body and marginalizes a significant number of your constituents. As your students explained, the resolution contains many accusations about Israel that are factually incorrect, taken out of context, and can be regarded as genuine attacks on institutions many UCSD students value. Furthermore, this resolution explicitly delegitimizes aspects of Jewish and pro-Israel students’ identities. The adoption of this resolution sends a clear message that these students are unwelcome on such a respected institution’s campus.
In response to UCSA’s September 17, 2012 “A Resolution Regarding California Assembly Bill HR 35,” sixty undergraduate elected student officials across the University of California signed a letter to the UCSA Board of Directors about the divisiveness and harm that such resolutions cause amongst students.
As elected officials ourselves, we understand the careful balance between doing what is right for our campus and making our constituents feel safe. We understand that each campus is different and it is your decision as to what is best for your students. However, we strongly urge you to take into account the opinions of many of your constituents and fellow UC elected officials who feel the resolution at hand is not appropriate.
Thank you for your consideration,
David Bocarsly, President
Andrea Hester, Internal Vice President
Kim Davis, Academic Affairs Commissioner Sahil Seth, Financial Supports Commissioner Stephen Kraman, Facilities Commissioner Michael Starr, General Representative 1
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UC Irvine student government officially signs resolution urging divestment from human rights abuses in Palestine
(IRVINE, CALIF., 11/27/2012) – Two weeks after the unanimous approval in a 16-0-0 vote by the Legislative Council of the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine (ASUCI), executive members of ASUCI have officially signed Resolution 48-15, calling for the divestment of university funds from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies.
In the past two weeks many opponents and proponents of the resolution voiced their opinions to the student government in a series of transparent public forums. Despite pressure from the UCI administration and special interest groups to retract their position, the student government leaders remained resolute in their decision to pass the legislation. Demonstrating courage and persistence, UCI students and student leaders have sent a strong statement in support of the oppressed indigenous population in Palestine by rejecting the university’s investments in companies that profit from occupation and apartheid.
“We are looking forward to working with the University of California, UCI administration and the UCI Foundation on addressing the students’ demands for stronger ethical standards in regards to university investments,” stated Sabreen Shalabi, coauthor of the resolution. “We refuse to be complicit in horrendous violations of human rights and international law and we urge the University to join the students in upholding the University’s values and principles.”
The recent series of attacks against the Palestinian population in Gaza is a timely reminder of the important role that UCI students play as socially conscious citizens. In light of this human tragedy, it is important to expose the complicity of universities, companies, and governments in violating human rights and international law. For example, one of the subjects of the bill, Raytheon, was the provider of missiles used in bombardments of residential areas during the Israeli military’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. This resolution calls upon UCI students and staff to critically reflect upon their role as individual consumers, taxpayers, and citizens in further perpetuating the violent and inhumane policies of an apartheid regime.
UC Irvine students pass historic legislation urging divestment from human rights abuses in Palestine
(IRVINE, CALIF., 11/13/2012) – In an historic move that could initiate a domino effect across America’s campuses, the Associated Students of UC Irvine voted unanimously to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine, including from companies that contribute to illegal settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territories.With 16 votes in favor, 0 abstentions, and 0 opposed, the elected undergraduate student representatives of the University of California Irvine unanimously passed a resolution urging the University to withdraw its investment funds from Caterpillar, General Electric Company, Hewlett Packard, Raytheon, and other companies profiting from human rights violations in the occupied territories. The students also pledged to further examine UC assets for investments in companies that profit from human rights abuses anywhere in the world. The resolution was drafted in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a means to force it to comply with international law and end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; allow Palestinian refugees their internationally guaranteed right to return to their homes and villages; and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. Other divestment successes have occurred at Hampshire College and Evergreen State College, as well as the WeDivest campaign which focuses on pension fund giant TIAA CREF and has resulted in, among other things, the removal of Caterpillar from its Social Choice Funds. Sabreen Shalabi, the student representative on the legislative council for the school of social science and co-author of the legislation said, “I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our University. Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our Universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid.” Traci Ishigo, President of the Associated Student of UCI and a member of the UC Irvine Foundation, said “The decision made by ASUCI’s legislative Council tonight clearly shows the strength and integrity of students utilizing their collective power to protect human rights on a global scale and I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity.”
Remi Kanazi: Silencing pro-Palestinian speech on campus
On July 9, 2012, the University of California’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion presented its fact-finding report and recommendations on Jewish Student Campus Climate. According to a letter written by UC President Mark Yudof, the report was launched in response to the 2010 Berkeley student government vote to divest from companies selling weapons to the Israeli military and the 2010 UC Irvine protest against Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.
The “climate report” was tasked with “fact-finding about the challenges and positive campus experiences of Jewish students at UC and to identify steps needed to make campuses more inclusive and welcoming for Jewish students”. The council also presented a fact-finding report on Muslim and Arab Student Campus Climate.From the outset, the Jewish Student Campus Climate report focuses on non-violent protests and speeches critical of Israel, a state in clear violation of international law, not anti-Jewish bigotry. In fact, nearly 50 per cent of the report (excluding the introduction and recommendations) covered “the Anti-Zionism/Anti-Israel Movement and its Impact on Climate”.
Specifically, the use of the words “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid” to describe Israel’s policies are presented as problematic, while anti-Zionism and the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel are referred to as “manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment on campus”.
What is the definition of “anti-Israel”? We are never told. Imagine a UC report referring to protests against the war on Iraq as “manifestations of anti-American sentiment on campus”. One of the three key demands in the BDS call is equality for all Palestinians living inside the state of Israel. Imagine referring to the Montgomery Bus Boycott as an “anti-American” period in our history.
The report further presents Palestine Awareness Week as a “negative experience” for Jewish students, a framing that disregards the viewpoints of many Jewish students involved in organising and planning the event.