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March 21, 2014 1

Divestment Resolutions Abound on U.S. Campuses This Week

In the wake of Israeli Apartheid Week, which recently wrapped up after tak­ing place on sev­eral dozen col­lege cam­puses dur­ing the month of March, divest­ment res­o­lu­tions were intro­duced on four U.S. col­lege cam­puses this loyoladivestweek.

Here’s a run­down on the res­o­lu­tions – two of which passed, two of which were held up – that were intro­duced this week:

Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity – Although the Loy­ola Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter had dis­sem­i­nated a peti­tion urg­ing the uni­ver­sity to with­draw invest­ments in five cor­po­ra­tions, the cam­pus was blind­sided by the sur­prise intro­duc­tion of a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion in  the Stu­dent Sen­ate on Tues­day. The res­o­lu­tion, which passed by a vote of 26–0-2, had not pre­vi­ously been announced and stu­dents who sought to oppose it were not given the oppor­tu­nity to express their perspective.

Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity – Also on Tues­day, a res­o­lu­tion call­ing on Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity (ASU) to divest from Cater­pil­lar, which pro­vides heavy machin­ery to the Israeli army, was tabled by the Under­grad­u­ate Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment. The bill was intro­duced by the group “ASU Divest from Cater­pil­lar Inc.” and it will report­edly be amended and rein­tro­duced by ASU’s SJP chap­ter in the near future.

Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan – The Cen­tral Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment (CSG) was sched­uled to vote on a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion ini­ti­ated by the anti-Israel stu­dent group “Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity” (SAFE). The meet­ing attracted an over­whelm­ingly large num­ber of stu­dents and as the room became over­crowded, the meet­ing was moved to another loca­tion on cam­pus where an announce­ment was made that the vot­ing ses­sion would be post­poned indef­i­nitely. Accord­ing to the Michi­gan Daily, the crowd then “pressed up against the stan­chions divid­ing the room and chanted ‘Divest’ at the CSG mem­bers for sev­eral min­utes.” In addi­tion, more than 100 stu­dents gath­ered out­side of the Michi­gan Union to rally in favor of divestment.

The fol­low­ing day, mem­bers of SAFE declared that they were con­duct­ing a “sit-in” near the stu­dent gov­ern­ment offices until the CSG would hold a vote on their divest­ment res­o­lu­tion. The stu­dents  took over the space and refused to leave until they were told that they would be arrested. Reports on Twit­ter indi­cate that mem­bers of the group are cur­rently recon­ven­ing for the third day of their “sit-in.”

San Diego State Uni­ver­sity – San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Stu­dent Diver­sity Com­mis­sion passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion by a vote of 11–6-2 on March 19. The res­o­lu­tion now will report­edly be brought before the uni­ver­sity council.

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February 27, 2014 0

Eviction Notices At Northeastern Kick-Off Israeli Apartheid Week

Update: Feb­ru­ary 27 — Yes­ter­day, mem­bers of the Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina (UNC) SJP chap­ter, dis­trib­uted hun­dreds of mock evic­tion notices in res­i­dence halls on the UNC cam­pus. Just like at North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity, where the stu­dents began to use the hash­tag “#Boston­Mock­E­vic­tion” on Twit­ter after post­ing them, at UNC they began to use “#UNC­Mock­E­vic­tion.” The mock evic­tion notices were also used to pro­mote UNC’s Israeli Apartheid Week, sched­uled to take place on the cam­pus from March 3 to March 7.

Mock evic­tion notices were slid under res­i­dence hall doors of many stu­dents at North­east­ern Uni­ver­sity ear­lier this week. Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) took respon­si­bil­ity for the action and claimed that these notices were posted to kick off Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which is tak­ing place this week on dozens of col­lege cam­puses across the United States.northeastern-iaw-eviction-2014-sjp

The notices at North­east­ern stated that the affected dorm rooms would be demol­ished in three days and that “evic­tion notices are rou­tinely given to Pales­tin­ian fam­i­lies liv­ing under oppres­sive Israeli occu­pa­tion for no rea­son other than their eth­nic background…to cleanse the region of its Arab pop­u­la­tion, and cre­ate space for set­tle­ments.” In real­ity, some Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank receive evic­tion notices if their homes were built ille­gally or need to be demol­ished because of Israeli secu­rity con­cerns, not because of the res­i­dents’ “eth­nic background.”

Lan­guage in the notice echoed many of the themes of IAW, includ­ing alle­ga­tions of Israeli racism and apartheid, calls for Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel, and claims that Israel is com­mit­ting war crimes such as eth­nic cleans­ing against the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple. North­east­ern SJP later issued a com­ment on Twit­ter that “some stu­dents don’t like fac­ing uncom­fort­able facts about Israeli apartheid.”northeastern-iaw-eviction-2014-2-sjp

The notice, var­i­ous ver­sions of which have been dis­trib­uted at sev­eral other col­lege cam­puses in recent years, was also made to appear as if it was issued by a munic­i­pal court, mak­ing the threat of demo­li­tion seem more real to the stu­dents who received them.

In the past year, anti-Israel stu­dent groups at the fol­low­ing uni­ver­si­ties have cir­cu­lated mock evic­tion notices:

  • Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, Decem­ber 2013 – Over 1,000 stu­dents received mock evic­tion notices posted by mem­bers of the stu­dent group “Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity” at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, Ann Arbor.  These notices claimed that Israel evicts Pales­tini­ans from their homes for the pur­pose of “mak[ing] life so mis­er­able for the Arabs that they leave.”
  • Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity, Octo­ber 2013 – Stu­dents from the Rutgers-New Brunswick SJP chap­ter posted mock evic­tion notices in res­i­dence halls to “edu­cate” stu­dents about the expe­ri­ence for some Pales­tini­ans whose homes are demol­ished. Text on the mock evic­tion notices read, “Your suite is sched­uled for demo­li­tion in the next three days… If you do not vacate the premise within this time frame, we reserve the right to destroy all remain­ing belongings…This may seem like unre­al­is­ti­cally harsh treat­ment, but this is the actual state of affairs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”
  • San Diego State Uni­ver­sity, March 2013 – Mock evic­tion notices were posted on stu­dents’ res­i­dence hall room doors by mem­bers of the SDSU SJP chap­ter. The notices, which claimed that “$30 bil­lion US tax dol­lars have been used to fund Israeli apartheid in the past decade,” were meant to raise aware­ness over Israel’s alleged human rights vio­la­tions against Palestinians.

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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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