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November 14, 2012 0

Non-Binding Student Divestment Resolution Passes at UC Irvine

The stu­dent sen­ate at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine, passed a non-binding res­o­lu­tion last night call­ing for divest­ment from sev­eral com­pa­nies that do busi­ness with Israel. The res­o­lu­tion, titled “Divest­ment from Com­pa­nies that Profit from Apartheid,” requires the approval of the stu­dent government’s exec­u­tive board before it may be sent to the admin­is­tra­tion for their consideration.

The res­o­lu­tion includes com­pa­nies that have long been tar­geted by the anti-Israel divest­ment cam­paign, includ­ing Gen­eral Elec­tric, Hewlett-Packard and Cater­pil­lar. It also includes lesser known com­pa­nies, how­ever, like Cement Road­stones Hold­ing which sells cement to Israel, as well as Raytheon, a defense tech­nol­ogy com­pany. Raytheon recently part­nered with an Israeli com­pany to build the highly suc­cess­ful Iron Dome sys­tem that inter­cepts incom­ing rock­ets from Gaza.

Despite the pas­sage of the res­o­lu­tion, the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia sys­tem already has a clear pol­icy against divest­ment.  In 2010, when the Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter at UC Berke­ley put forth a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion, the UC board and Pres­i­dent Mark Yudof issued a state­ment say­ing that the board would only sup­port a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion “when the United States gov­ern­ment declares that a for­eign regime is com­mit­ting acts of geno­cide.” The state­ment added, “The U.S. has not made any dec­la­ra­tion regard­ing the State of Israel and, there­fore, we will not bring a rec­om­men­da­tion before the Board to divest from com­pa­nies doing busi­ness with the State of Israel.” The state­ment also noted that the resolution’s sole focus on Israel “greatly dis­turbs us.”

Last night’s vote took place with what appears to have been delib­er­ate secrecy and lit­tle fan­fare. A Web site and fan pages on Face­book and Twit­ter with the han­dle “Irvine Divest” were all set up less than 72 hours before the vote. It seems not many were aware that the vote was tak­ing place until after it had occurred.

Jew­ish Voice for Peace, the largest Jew­ish anti-Zionist orga­ni­za­tion in the U.S., attended the meet­ing, accord­ing to reports on social media. Sup­port­ing boy­cott and divest­ment ini­tia­tives across the coun­try has become one of JVP’s pri­mary mis­sions. The group has sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to advo­cate for divest­ment on sev­eral col­lege cam­puses in the past few years. JVP also deliv­ered speeches at two church con­fer­ences over the sum­mer where the orga­ni­za­tions had been con­sid­er­ing divest­ment. A Los Ange­les orga­nizer for JVP, Estee Chan­dler, even blogged about her expe­ri­ence watch­ing the events of last night unfold and described the vote as “historic.”

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