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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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December 11, 2013 1

University Of Michigan Latest School To Be Hit With Anti-Israel Mock Eviction Notices

Mock evic­tion notices were recently dis­trib­uted at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan by the pro-Palestinian stu­dent group “Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity.” More than one thou­sand stu­dents report­edly received the notices on their res­i­dence hall room doors on Tues­day, Decem­ber 10, which warned them that their dor­mi­tory would be demol­ished by Decem­ber 13.michigan-mock-eviction-notice

The notices were made to appear as though they were issued by the university’s Depart­ment of Hous­ing and were designed to mimic the evic­tion notices received by some Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank if their homes were built ille­gally or needed to be demol­ished because of Israeli secu­rity con­cerns. The notices, how­ever, claim that Israel evicts Pales­tini­ans from their homes for the pur­pose of “mak[ing] life so mis­er­able for Arabs that they leave.”

Stu­dents affil­i­ated with SAFE also pub­lished a “View­point” piece on the uni­ver­sity newspaper’s Web site call­ing for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel and claim­ing that the evic­tion notices are a “tool of polit­i­cal satire.”

These notices, which have appeared on at least a half a dozen other cam­puses in the past few years, have pre­vi­ously made some stu­dents feel threat­ened or intimidated.

For exam­ple, after stu­dents at Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity received the notices in Octo­ber 2013, Esther Reed, the rabbi of Rutgers’s Hil­lel was quoted in the cam­pus news­pa­per say­ing, “stu­dents were made to feel that they were not safe in their res­i­dence halls.” Sim­i­larly, at Florida Atlantic Uni­ver­sity, stu­dents reported feel­ing con­fused or scared after receiv­ing evic­tion notices in March 2012, accord­ing to Palm Beach County Com­mis­sioner Steven Abrams, who spoke to a local news­pa­per shortly after the inci­dent occurred.

Other stu­dents have crit­i­cized the tac­tic for fail­ing to cre­ate dia­logue. At Yale Uni­ver­sity, stu­dents wrote an op-ed in the cam­pus news­pa­per and called the mock evic­tion notices “offen­sive,” claim­ing that there was not “even the faintest attempt at build­ing a con­struc­tive dialogue.”  

In the past few years, anti-Israel stu­dent groups at the fol­low­ing uni­ver­si­ties have cir­cu­lated mock evic­tion notices on campus:

  • Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity, Octo­ber 2013 – Stu­dents from the Rutgers-New Brunswick SJP chap­ter posted mock evic­tion notices in res­i­dence halls through­out the cam­pus 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.
  • Har­vard Uni­ver­sity, March 2013 – Mem­bers of the Har­vard Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee posted mock evic­tion notices on stu­dents’ doors in fresh­man and upper class res­i­dence halls. The notices, which warned stu­dents that their res­i­dence hall rooms were “sched­uled for demo­li­tion in the next three days” were posted in order to pub­li­cize “Israel Apartheid Week” on cam­pus and to raise aware­ness about Israel’s policies.
  • Florida Atlantic Uni­ver­sity, March 2012 – Mock evic­tion notices were posted on nearly 200 stu­dent res­i­dence hall rooms. The action, orga­nized by the FAU SJP chap­ter, warned stu­dents that their rooms were being demol­ished and that “any­one left inside is not our respon­si­bil­ity.” This episode attracted sig­nif­i­cant ire because the flier con­tained the offi­cial seal of university’s Hous­ing and Res­i­den­tial Life Department.  
  • Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, May 2011 – Over 200 mock evic­tion notices were dis­trib­uted by the SJP chap­ter on cam­pus. The notices stated that affected stu­dents would have their rooms demol­ished and that if they did not vacate them, “we reserve the right to destroy your hous­ing unit. We do not main­tain respon­si­bil­ity for any­one remain­ing inside.” 
  • Yale Uni­ver­sity, April 2011 – Mock evic­tion notices were dis­trib­uted by SJP at Yale Uni­ver­sity to crit­i­cize “the actions of the Israeli state” and to pro­mote the group’s upcom­ing events.

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March 1, 2012 1

Attempts to Silence Pro-Israel Voices on Campus Continue

Recent dis­rup­tions of pro-Israel events on cam­pus illus­trate the con­tin­u­ing use of tac­tics intended to silence Israeli voices and the expres­sion of pro-Israel views.
On Feb­ru­ary 27, Stu­dents from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia — Davis chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) staged a walk­out dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by for­mer sol­diers who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One stu­dent defi­antly stood up and shouted obscen­i­ties at the speak­ers, claim­ing that Israel has “turned the land of Pales­tine into a land of pros­ti­tutes and rapists and child moles­ters,” and harassed the speaker, ask­ing him, “How many women have you raped? How many chil­dren have you raped? You are a child moles­ter.” Dur­ing his out­burst, the heck­ler defended his actions as a free speech right yet noted, “My only pur­pose today is that this event is shut down,” an obvi­ously ironic use of free speech rights.  
SAFE rep­re­sen­ta­tives prior to Feb. 21 walkout
A dis­rup­tion also occurred the next day at UCLA when dozens of SJP mem­bers with duct tape fas­tened to their mouths and signs read­ing “Silenced” walked out in the mid­dle of an IDF soldier’s presentation.
On Feb­ru­ary 21, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from SAFE (Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity), an anti-Israel group at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­sity, staged a sim­i­lar walk­out of a speech fea­tur­ing for­mer Israeli soldiers.
While the sol­diers were able to fin­ish their pre­sen­ta­tions in all three cases, these inci­dents illus­trate an unwill­ing­ness by anti-Israel groups and indi­vid­u­als to allow the pro-Israel voice a space to be heard, an unfor­tu­nate posi­tion given that col­lege cam­puses should serve as a venue for the free exchange of ideas, not a place to “shut down” views one may dis­agree with.
The strat­egy first began in earnest in the 2009–2010 school year with loud dis­rup­tions of, among oth­ers, speeches by for­mer Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago and Israeli Ambas­sador Michael Oren at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine.

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