Divestment Resolution Tabled for Next Council Term

On May 6, 2010, in News, by ucsddivest

Full press release coming soon.

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Final Divestment Vote Wednesday, 5 May

On May 5, 2010, in In The News, News, by ucsddivest

The final vote on divestment will be Wednesday, 5 May at the AS Council meeting.

When: Wednesday, 5 May at 6pm

Where: UCSD Price Center Ballroom East

Address: 9500 Gilman Drive La Jolla, CA 92192

Directions to Parking & UCSD Map to Price Center

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Endorsements

On May 4, 2010, in Endorsements, by ucsddivest

UCSD Student Organizations:

Amnesty International
Arab Student Union
Black Student Union
College Democrats
Food Co-Op
Forward
Haiti Emergence Action Team
Muslim Student Association
One Earth One Justice
Schools for Schools
Student Sustainability Collective
Students Take Action Now Darfur
Students for Barack Obama
Students for Civil Rights in Iran
Students for Justice in Palestine

UCSD Faculty and Staff:

Chang, Edmond (History)
Frank, Ross (Ethnic Studies)
Kheshti, Roshanak (Ethnic Studies)
Linton, April (Sociology)
Prestholdt, Jeremy (History)
Saier, Milton (Biology)
Evans, Ivan (Sociology)

Other Individuals:

Anna Baltzer (Jewish Human Rights Activist)
Fr. Bill O’Donnell (St. Joseph the Worker Church, Berkeley)
Hedy Epstein (Holocaust survivor)
Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Laureate, USA)
Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate, Ireland)
Noam Chomsky (Professor, MIT)
Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Nobel Peace Laureate, Guatemala)
Roger Hill (Director Mental-Rev Productions)
Roger Waters (Pink Floyd member)
Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Laureate, Iran)

Other Organizations:

Al Awda (USA)
American Muslims for Palestine (USA)
Arab Resource Organization Center
Arab Youth for Palestine (Valdivia, Chile)
Association for Muslim Professional Development
Associations in Friendship with the Palestinian People (Catalonia, Spain)
BOYCOTT Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within (Israel)
Berkeley Women in Black
British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (UK)
Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)
Camden Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)
Campus Radical Women
Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel)
Code Pink
European Jews for a Just Peace (Europe)
Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Flashpoint radio program on KPFA 94.1FM
Friends of SABEEL North America Church
Goldsmiths Student Union (London)
Gush Shalom Israeli Peace Bloc (Israel)
Hithabrut – Tarabut Arab–Jewish Movement for Social & Political Change (Israel)
If Americans Knew
Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
International Solidarity Movement
Jewish Voices for Peace
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods
Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK)
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute
Middle East Children’s Alliance
Middle East Peace & Justice Alliance (NM)
National Action Palestine (UK)
New Profile – Movement for the Civilization of Israeli Society (Israel)
Nicaragua Center for Community Action (Nicaragua)
PC(USA)’s Israel/Palestine Mission Network (USA)
Progressive Democrats of East Bay (California)
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Scotland)
South Somerset Palestine Support Group (UK)
Students for Socially Responsible Investing (University of Michigan Dearborn)
The BDS New Mexico Campaign (New Mexico)
The Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel (New Mexico)
The Council for the National Interest
The Federation of Argentinian-Palestinian Entities (Argentina)
The General Union of Palestinian Students (Chile)
The General Union of Palestinian Students (Colombia)
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (Israel)
The Palestinian Federation (Chile)
The Tree of Life Foundation, Holy Land Educational and Peace Building Project
Union of Progressive Women (Israel)
WE Refuse to be Enemies: Jews, Muslims and Christians in Coalition for Peace
Yesh Gvul There is a Limit! (Israel)

Historic Opportunity at Hand

By Anfal Awwad, Benjamin Balthaser, Oliver Burchill, Amal Dalmar and Aaron Dimsdale

Task Force, A.S. Divestment Resolution 2010

We have a historic opportunity to stop our university from contributing to the violation of human rights. This is a controversial issue, as all movements for social justice are.

But let us be clear: The controversy surrounding the Peace and Neutrality Through UC Divestment From U.S. Corporations Profiting From Occupation resolution has not been created by any student group on campus, but by the University of California’s decision to invest in corporations involved in tremendous violations of international law.

Two of these corporations are General Electric and United Technologies. They were mentioned in the resolution for their involvement in well-documented human-rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These are not casual accusations: These corporations have been well-researched, and the fact is that our university has invested $136 million in General Electric and its subsidiaries, which contributes to the manufacturing and delivery of weapons in these occupied territories. Because many students have relatives who live in occupied territories, such investments force them, in effect, to fund the bombs that are dropped on their families. This is not a choice any student should have to make.

Due to the UC system’s involvement, the conflict in Israel and Palestine may be a difficult one to hear about, but it is not a difficult one to understand. The Palestinian people suffer from the longest ongoing illegal military occupation in the world. No matter how you spin it, a military occupation by another power implies the curtailment of civil liberties and the lack of democracy.

So why write a resolution that references Israel, one might ask? The answer is simple. The U.S. gives the Israeli government approximately $8 million a day, and the vast majority of that money is spent on its military. That sum is more than we give to any other country in the world. This money is often used for illegal war materials such as white phosphorus, which was banned by the 1980 Geneva Convention because it creates horrific burns that continue long after contact with human flesh.

After the 23-day Gaza siege last year resulted in 1,400 deaths at the hands of the Israeli military, institutions such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross confirmed that white phosphorous bombs were indeed used. But this does not do much to describe the daily abuses of Palestinians in the occupied territories: Palestinians must endure long waits at check points, illegal searches and seizures, the demolition of their homes, “Israeli only” bypass roads, a lack of access to clean water, skyrocketing unemployment, a wall separating farmers from access to their fields and the humiliation of another nation deciding the budget on everything from schools to roads.

Our Associated Students now have the opportunity to stand up against the injustice inflicted against the Palestinian people, and to demand that our university is never involved in a single bomb being dropped on a fellow human being ever again.

Many will say this resolution is biased — and we could not agree more. This resolution is biased for human rights, justice and equality. It is biased against bombs and military occupation. Many will also try to argue that this resolution is singling Israel out, and is therefore anti-Israel. However, this bill does not condemn one oppressive apartheid regime more than any other. If Spain were occupying Palestine, then this resolution would note that Spanish occupation and seek to divest from it.

This week Chris Cruz, chair of A.S. Resolution-Writing Committee On Peace and Neutrality, will publicly meet with the nine-person committee to discuss whether or not the Peace and Neutrality Through UC Divestment From U.S. Corporations Profiting from Occupation resolution will remain the same.

But do not fall victim to the fiction that the current military policies of the state of Israel represent the Jewish identity. There are an increasing number of Jewish and Israeli voices calling for an end to the occupation, including organizations such as B’Tselem, Jewish Voice for Peace, Meretz-Yachad, Gush Shalom and many others. These organizations see the occupation as both morally wrong and harmful to Israeli society. These broad coalitions include Holocaust survivors, rabbis and many other people of conscience who object to the terrible indignity that is forced upon the Palestinian people by right-wing extremists in their name.

In fact, occupation is a right-wing political platform in Israel. Many Jewish citizens oppose it. So, if someone tells you that he is “for Israel” but only represents this side of the controversy, he’s not telling you the full story.

Let this resolution become the piece of legislation that defines our generation. Let it be known that UCSD will not go on one more day until the money that is spent toward the oppression of Palestine is not in its hands any longer. We must remember that UC students have a long history of standing up for human rights. When Nelson Mandela was let out of prison, he thanked the UC students for their relentless work in divesting from the apartheid regime in South Africa.

We have a legacy; we have a place in the struggle that we cannot ignore any longer. It is time that the UC students take our rightful place in the fight for human rights. We can no longer sit idly by as our university supports the alienation and the racist treatment of a group of people, no matter who they might be. Yes, it will mean an uncomfortable conversation about things we’d rather not think about — but when has that ever stopped us before?

http://www.ucsdguardian.org/opinion/historic-opportunity-at-hand/

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Ucberkeley

The student senate at the University of California–Berkeley has failed to override a veto of a bill calling on campus officials to divest from companies that supply weapons the Israel uses in its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Video here.

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After emotional public input and a complete rewrite of the divestment resolution, proponents plan to reintroduce original language next week.

Posted on 29 April 2010 by Angela Chen

John Hanacek/Guardian

Hundreds of students gathered at the A.S. Forum last night to watch the council debate a controversial resolution calling for the University of California to stop investing in companies providing military technology to Israel. The resolution identified the Palestinian territories as being occupied by a military force guilty of committing human rights violations against the Palestinian people. The council ultimately voted 13-10-4 to create a committee to further discuss the resolution.

The resolution, which was modeled after a similar effort at UC Berkeley, called for the UC Board of Regents to divest endowment funds from corporations such as General Electric and United Technologies. According to the resolution, these companies manufacture technology used in military weapons and vehicles, such as helicopters, used in war crimes in the Middle East.

According to Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh — who helped draft the document — the resolution is not the first of its kind. However, Ghosh said, if it had passed, it would have been the first recognition of Israel’s war crimes to be approved at a public university. Hampshire College, a private college in Massachusetts, has already divested entirely from the state of Israel. (The resolution considered by the council last night only advocated a break from corporations said to profit from Israel’s alleged war crimes.)

The bill drew students from campus groups such as Tritons for Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine, who spoke during the public input period at the beginning of the meeting.

Campuswide Senator-elect Elizabeth Elman said the resolution encouraged the university to adopt a neutral stance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by divesting from companies that support Israel’s actions in the conflict.

“I’ve heard that passing this resolution will divide our UCSD community on an issue that is far removed from this campus,” she said. “I would argue that we are already divided. I believe that discussing this resolution is the first step in reuniting our community. This resolution divests from American companies whose business solely benefits the war efforts of one side in this conflict will help restore the neutrality that our student body so vocally desires.”

However, Tritons for Israel President Dafna Barzilay argued that the legislation was biased and that passing it would alienate the pro-Israel community on campus. She said that the pro-Israel committee had been unfairly excluded from the drafting of the resolution and that the pro-Israel community had only three days to formulate a response before the vote at last night’s A.S. Council meeting.

“My community is feeling threatened, and we’re feeling unsafe,” she said. “One thing I would like to urge is that this is not a pro-peace resolution. It is marketed to be one — however, I would like to maintain that peace incorporates talks, negotiations and respects from both sides of any conflicted forces and this kind of movement should not be one that’s done overnight.”

According to A.S. Director of Policy Initiatives Mac Zilber, the money invested into G.E. and United Technologies does not come from tuitions or student fees — as the resolution states — but instead is derived from private donations. In addition, he said that the investment money supporters the capital unit of G.E., which is a commercial leasing unit of the company and is not involved in providing military technology overseas.

Following public input, councilmembers began to discus whether the resolution was an appropriate topic to discuss.  A motion by Campuswide Senator Katie Hall to table the motion indefinitely failed 13-16-2 with 13 members voting in favor of tabling, 16 voting against and 3 abstaining.

Vice President of Student Life Ricsie Hernandez proposed that the original version of the resolution be amended and instead be replaced with a version created by Campuswide Senator Tobias Haglund. Haglund’s version removes all mention of Israel or Palestine and instead states that the council does not condone the financial support of companies that invest in military occupation in any country.

Ghosh said he would support the amended version of the resolution.

“That version was terribly watered down and a lot of people in our community weren’t happy with it, but I would have voted for it,” Ghosh said.

The amendment passed, but the issue was eventually voted to be discharged into a committee chaired with Speaker James Lintern, who resigned from the position at the end of the meeting.

“I didn’t volunteer for this position and this committee is going to fail in a big way,” he said. “I didn’t have good experiences with the council on this last year, and nothing’s going to happen with it.”

Hall, who voted for the issue to be discharged, argued that the debate should be resolved only once both groups have had equal input into the resolution.

“My problem is that there are members of Students for Justice in Palestine on this council, but there are hardly any members of Tritons for Israel on this council to have their voices be heard on this resolution,” Hall said.

Ghosh said that he was disappointed with the outcome since the original resolution had already been so radically altered.

“The last compromise really could have been passed, it was very transparent,” he said. “They knew it was about to pass so they voted it into committee where people can keep bringing up new things.”

Ghosh said that he would bring up the resolution again at the 2009-10 council’s final meeting of the year, which will be held next week.

“Next time I won’t bring up the compromised document but instead the original document,” he said. “I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again and it might take 10 years, but divestment will pass.”

Readers can contact Angela Chen at shchen@ucsd.edu.

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