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January 30, 2015

BDS Passed at UC Davis, Other BDS Campaigns Also Occurring

Last night at the University of California, Davis, a divestment resolution was passed by The Associated Students, University of California (ASUCD) with a vote of 8-2-2. The resolution, which calls on the UC Board of Regents to divest from companies that allegedly “aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories,” targets specific corporations such as Caterpillar, G4S, Veolia Environment and Raytheon.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Several other Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns are simultaneously occurring on other college campuses across the U.S. This is consistent with our predictions in our “Anti-Israel Activity on Campus After Operation Protective Edge” report about upcoming challenges on campuses where student-groups are looking to convince their universities to divest from corporations that they believe perpetuate or profit from the Israeli occupation.

In some cases, new student groups have been founded to launch these campaigns and in other cases, established anti-Israel student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), have taken the lead. In many cases, these student groups have attempted to form partnerships with other groups on their campuses to build broad coalitions and to latch onto other social justice causes. For example, these groups have sponsored events such as “From Ferguson to Palestine and the Wall,” which took place in mid-January at Stanford University and described as an opportunity to “discuss the specifics and connections between the movements for justice in Ferguson, the US-Mexico Border and Palestine.”

During the first semester of the current academic year, the UCLA SJP chapter was able to get “A Resolution to Divest from Corporations Engaged in Violence Against Palestinians” passed by their student government. The resolution, which was sponsored by 15 student organizations and endorsed by another 17, was voted on with an 8-2-2 margin. In addition, at the end of last semester, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW Local 2865, voted in favor of a resolution urging the UC Board of Regents to join the BDS movement against Israel.

In addition to UC Davis, there are another six campuses in the U.S. that are currently engaged in BDS campaigns. Below is a rundown of their activities:  

  1. DePaul University – The DePaul Divest coalition submitted a request to the Fair Business Practices Committee (FBPC) to uphold a decision made last spring when DePaul students voted on a referendum in favor of divestment during Student Government elections. The companies that they were targeting for divestment included Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Veolia, and Caterpillar, but the proposal was reportedly rejected by the FBPC.
  1. Northwestern University – A newly-founded group called NU Divest has been hosting pro-BDS events to inform their student-body about BDS and they are planning to submit a divestment resolution for vote to their student government at some point this semester.
  1. Stanford University – A new student group called Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine has been hosting pro-BDS events on campus and plans to submit a divestment resolution to their student government this semester.
  1. SDSU – A group calling itself SDSU Divest recently launched a divestment campaign and has been circulating a petition to current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members that calls for divestment “from companies that profit from violence against the Palestinians.” The group is also hosting its “First Open Forum for Divestment” next Tuesday, February 3.
  1. University of South Florida – The USF SJP chapter recently put a billboard up near their campus that claims that “10,000 students were silenced” and calls on USF to divest from corporations allegedly profiting from the Israeli occupation. They claim that students were silenced because the university did not pursue divestment after they circulated a pro-BDS petition that reportedly received over 10,000 signatures.
  1. Ohio State University – A newly-founded group called OSU Divest started a divestment campaign on their campus and disseminated a press release which calls for OSU to divest from companies that allegedly “engage in or otherwise profit from policies that oppress and marginalize Palestinians.”

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November 14, 2012

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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