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April 24, 2014

Momentum For Divestment On California Campuses Falters

Despite the best efforts of anti-Israel student groups, divestment resolutions debated on two California campuses failed last night by wide margins, while a third passed by just one vote.sdsu divest logo

Student Senators at San Diego State University (3 Yes-16 No-3 Abstentions) and the University of California, Santa Barbara (8-16-0), rejected resolutions that called on their respective universities to withdraw investments from multinational companies that work with Israel. A similar resolution did, however, pass by a razor-thin margin at the University of California, Riverside.

The results of the Riverside resolution, though not favorable, are telling in and of themselves about the state of support for BDS on American college campuses. The final vote was 8-7 and that was only after the Senators voted to conduct a closed vote so that the representatives would not have to openly declare their anti-Israel views.

Moreover, it appears that the president of the Senate did not support the resolution. Based on live-tweeting from the event, it seems that the president, Sai Patadia, asked those in favor of divestment to explain why it was legitimate to single out Israel for punishment, an issue often cited by the pro-Israel community. [Last November, Patadia also tried to resolve an issue that had arisen when a divestment resolution on campus was introduced in stealth, stripping pro-Israel students of the opportunity to present an alternative viewpoint.  This time around, Patadia encouraged Students for Justice in Palestine to reach out to the pro-Israel community and let them know when the resolution was drafted, according to an article in the campus newspaper.]

UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara have both dealt with similar resolutions before. A resolution several months ago was voted down and last March, a resolution passed but was then rescinded a month later. At UC Santa Barbara, a vote last April failed 10-11-1 whereupon pro-Israel students took it upon themselves to run for Student Senate, presumably in the hopes of avoiding a similarly close vote this year.

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