In a move reminiscent of the exploitation of the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday in 1973 to launch an attack on Israel, Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine has launched a last minute, sneak Divestment Resolution which is to come up for initial discussion on less than 48 hours notice this Thursday afternoon, April 10, at 4:30 p.m.

The notice was just posted on the Cornell Assembly website, although I heard rumors earlier today it might be coming.

Cornell Assembly Divestment Proposed April 8

The full Resolution linked on the Assembly website is embedded at the bottom of this post. Here’s the operative part:

(22) Be it resolved, that Cornell University will further examine its assets for investments in companies that a) provide military support for, or weaponry to, the occupation of Palestinian territory or b) facilitate the building or maintenance of the illegal separation wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes, or c) facilitate the building, maintenance or economic development of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory,

(23) Be it further resolved, that Cornell University will make information about all of its assets public, pertaining especially to its investments,

(24) And be it finally resolved, that Cornell University will end its complicity with the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and divest its holdings from the aforementioned companies and any other companies that profit directly from Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Cornell University will not make further investments in companies that materially support or profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

Passover starts Monday night, April 14, and many Jewish students at Cornell leave on Thursday to head home for the holidays.

If the Resolution is not tabled on Thursday, the Resolution will come to a formal vote on the following Thursday, April 17, in the middle of Passover, just a day after Jewish students return to campus after Passover Seders.

By so scheduling the Resolution, SJP and its supporters in the Student Assembly have sought to put Jewish students and campus groups at a disadvantage, literally forcing them to choose between celebrating the Jewish People’s Exodus from slavery in Egypt or organizing to fight the Divestment Resolution.

As discussed below, the intention to bring the Resolution to the Student Assembly was not made in regular order, was concealed from Jewish and pro-Israel groups on campus even though it has been in the works for weeks.

Background

The Divestment Resolution has been in the works for weeks.  On March 28, the Cornell Muslim Educational and Cultural Association circulated an email to its members alerting them to the coming Resolution:

From: [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Muslim Educational and Cultural Association
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2014 11:57 AM
To: MECA-L
Subject: Opportunities: Resolution and Petition

Assalamu Alaikum,

Below are some petitions/resolutions of interest to the Muslim community:

• Cornell SJP’s Divestment Resolution
• Petition on NYPD Surveillance Program of MSAs

MECA E-board

On March 29, the Cornell Divestment Event Facebook Page was created, the Saturday which started Spring Break Week, so students were away.  The details were listed on April 2, again while Cornell students were away.  Since the notice did not state that it was being brought to the Student Assembly, or when, even if a pro-Israel student had seen it, there would have been no notice of what was about to happen:

Cornell SJP Divestment Resolution Announcement Facebook April 2

The Google docs link led to a page that also did not disclose that the Resolution would shortly be brought to the Assembly:

Cornell SJP Resolution Comment Screen

The members of the Student Assembly who were likely to oppose the Resolution were kept in the dark.  Pro-Israel groups on campus were unaware.

Indeed, an Agenda for the April 10 Meeting was circulated earlier today that did not list the Divestment Resolution:

Cornell Student Assembly Original Agenda April 10, 2014

At 8:42 p.m. today, a Revised Agenda was issued, listing the Divestment Resolution.  The email attaching the Revised Agenda claimed that the delay in listing the Resolution was “due to an electronic error,” but that is pretextual.  Apparently the Resolution was not even formally submitted until late Sunday night.  At best, it would have been revealed to other Assembly members in the original Agenda distributed this afternoon — still only two days’ notice:

Cornell Student Assembly Revised Agenda April 10, 2014 marked

Putting the Resolution on for Thursday apparently was accomplished by bringing it unannounced before the Community Life Committee either late yesterday or today.  Although I don’t as of now understand the procedural mechanism, that permitted the Resolution to be added to the Agenda for Thursday as “new business.”

It is my understanding that no vote can take place this Thursday assuming the rules are followed.  But that assumes the rules are followed, and SJP’s supporters apparently will use whatever mechanisms they can to push this to a quick vote, so the possibility cannot be ruled out that something substantive may happen on April 10.

It is not really surprising that SJP is using this tactic, as its only recent success in the U.S. was at Loyola-Chicago, where pro-Israel students were ambushed with a surprise Resolution. It passed even on a second vote held shortly after the surprise, but by a much smaller margin. At UCLA, U. Michigan, Arizona State and elsewhere that pro-Israel groups have had time to organize, the Resolutions were defeated.

We are continuing to follow this and will add more details as they become known.

Cornell Divestment Resolution April 2014.pdf

[Note: This post has been updated and expanded multiple times since original publication as new information became available.]