Self-parody, as anti-Israel divestment morphs — Can we divest from U. Cal?
We have covered anti-Israel student government divestment votes the past couple of years.
Groups, typically led by Students for Justice in Palestine assisted by Jewish Voice for Peace, try to get student governments to vote to divest from specified companies doing business in Israel, such as Caterpillar and HP. Sometimes they succeed, mostly they fail. In the end, it’s purely symbolic, since student governments have no such power.
Symbolism matters, though, because the campus movement is part of a larger goal of demonizing and dehumanizing Jewish Israelis. Even when they lose a vote, the BDS crowd claims victory because they forced people to talk about their issue.
Last academic year there were a series of divestment initiatives that failed, but recently in the U. California system, several have passed. The anti-Israel groups are very strategic, taking the time to elect their supporters to student councils, and that long-term strategy has paid off in places like UCLA, which rejected divestment last spring, only to see it pass this fall after a change of board membership.
One thing that slowly is coming to light, however, is that the anti-Israel movement is not the grassroots, student-led movement it purports to be. In fact, it has a highly coordinated, well-funded action plan assisted and coordinated by outside groups.
A column in the UCLA Bruin newspaper details what is happening, Co-author of UCSA resolution needs to disclose affiliations:
In 2014, Kurwa [the student leader who drafted the UCLA boycott resolution] joined the leadership of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This is particularly relevant to student government because this same organization has published a handbook about orchestrating campus divestment against Israel. The handbook encourages students to contact university administrators as part of their campaign, but avoid revealing their full intentions during these interactions. And while the handbook states that divestment was “introduced in North America as a stepping stone toward a broad, comprehensive boycott of Israel,” it tells students to publicly claim that divestment only targets “Israel’s occupation.” Kurwa should explain why an off-campus group he helps lead is instructing activists to deceive university administrators and students.
Furthermore, Kurwa should have disclosed that outside interests are extremely involved in running campus divestment across America. In the spring of 2013, divestment lobby groups created the National Campus BDS Support Team to “streamline and enhance support for campus campaigns” by providing research, talking points, texts and professional legal reviews for student divestment resolutions. These off-campus organizations have a combined annual budget of at least $42 million. Kurwa is listed on Support Team materials as a contact for SJP chapters around the country.
To stage their national conferences, Kurwa and SJP’s leadership use money from an off-campus organization called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)….
The anti-Israel movement had another success today, at the University of California system-wide Student Council, where two divestment motions passed, 9-1-6.
The first Resolution was the usual divestment from Israel, and the Israel motion was the focus of heated protest.
Pro-Israel students walked out in protest (see Featured Image)
Outside, the pro-Israel students sang the U.S. and Israeli national anthems.
Pro-Israel crowd now chanting Star Spangled Banner pic.twitter.com/oAQjCCP7Rn
— Jeong Park (@JeongParkDB) February 8, 2015
Inside, the anti-Israel students also voted to support a boycott of the U.S., among other countries, through a second Resolution calling for divestment from American, Mexican, Russian, Turkish, Indonesian, Brazilian, Sri Lankan, and Egyptian government bonds.
As to the U.S., the grounds for divestment were:
WHEREAS, The government of the United States of America is engaged in drone strikes that have killed over 2,400 people in Pakistan and Yemen, many of them civilians. The government oversees, by far, the highest rate of imprisonment in the world, and racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement agencies, particularly for drug related offences. 400,000 undocumented immigrants are held in detention centers every year, and millions have been
deported since the current Administration took office, and the government is directly supporting and propping up numerous dictatorships around the world with weapons sales and foreign aid.
WHEREAS, The University of California conducts research and accepts funding from the United States Department of Defense and the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), institutions actively involved in the United States’ military actions worldwide, on its Los Angeles, Berkeley, Irvine, Davis, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Diego, San Francisco, and Merced campuses, thereby furthering and enabling military agendas;
The Resolution demands:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the Board of Directors of the University of California Student Association calls upon the University of California to withdraw investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings in the aforementioned governments, at such time and in such manner as fund trustees may determine; and that the University of California maintain the withdrawal of investments, in accordance with trustees’ fiduciary duty, until these governments are no longer engaged in the violation of human rights and other behavior that fail to adhere to the University of California endorsed Principles of Responsible Investment;
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the Board of Directors of the University of California Student
Association determines if it is found that UC funds are being invested in any of the above mentioned governments, the University of California Student Association calls upon the University of California to divest all stocks and securities of such governments, at such time and in such manner as fund trustee may determine, and maintain divestment from said governments, in accordance with the fund trustees’ fiduciary duty, until they meet the University of California endorsed Principles of Responsible Investment;
The second Resolution is sufficiently broadly worded to also require divestment from almost every Muslim-dominated country in the Middle East, were discrimination against Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities is rampant and institutionalized:
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That the Board of Directors of the University of California Student Association calls upon our university to dissociate itself from governments and companies that engage or aid in systematic prejudiced oppression, whether this system targets people based on their religion, nationality, gender, race, or orientation, by divesting from governments and companies that participate in or profit from human rights violations.
If you consider the Palestinian Authority (in the West Bank) and Hamas (in Gaza) a “government,” regardless of whether it is a “state,” then the resolution forbids investment or any form of association with those groups, who practice gross discrimination, including against gays.
Think about that. If they had their way, the student government of the U. Cal. system would require divestment from U.S. Treasuries and most of the world.
The U. Cal. student government has proven a point I’ve made repeatedly in terms of the academic boycott: If you are going to boycott Israel, then you need to apply those standards to the whole world, which will result in boycotting yourselves.
I’m not glad that the Israel divestment passed, but at least it passed combined with a resolution which made the anti-Israel students and U. Cal student government look like fools.
The UC Student Association just decided to divest from America. I wonder where they expect to get funding for our universities #UCSADivest
— Miriam Eshaghian (@meshaghian1) February 8, 2015
Update 2-9-2015: And they celebrated (was it the victory over Israel, or the victory over America?):
Back in the real world, sanity prevails:
Divest the whole stinking world (except commie and terrorist states) http://t.co/Qvk7vKSU1K
— Stephen Bainbridge (@ProfBainbridge) February 9, 2015
The University of California used to stand for principled education. Now its students divest from America. #EmbarrassedForMyAlmaMater
— Gabriella Hoffman (@Gabby_Hoffman) February 9, 2015