Tuesday, April 27, 2010

San Diego & Berkeley resolutions to divest from Israeli military occupation at University of California

April 27, 2010

Dear Supporter,

It's not often that one gets to bear witness to the start of a movement. It's even rarer when you get the chance to help make it happen.

But here we are, faced with the beginning of a campus-led movement to divest from companies that profit from the occupation of Palestinian people and land. A movement made up of people of every race, ethnicity and religion all compelled by an overwhelming sense that divestment is the right, the moral, and the just thing to do. A movement that started with a call from Palestinians, moved to places of higher learning in the US like Hampshire College and the University of Michigan, and is now catching on in places like Georgetown, Brown, and the campuses of the University of California.

On Wednesday April 28, in just one day, not one but two separate college campuses - the University of California at Berkeley and at San Diego- will be voting on the question of divestment and occupation.

Students at UC Berkeley will again try to overturn a veto of their original 16 to 4 pro-divestment vote. And the students at UC San Diego will put their resolution- nearly identical to that of UC Berkeley--before the student senate for the first time.

Already nearly 6,000 of you have shown your support of UC Berkeley students by signing this statement and making sure we represent your name on a bright green statement at the hearing. Let's do the same for the students at UC San Diego.

We have just 1 day to demonstrate our support and solidarity with these amazing people who are standing for justice for all people in Palestine and Israel. I urge you to stand with them and let them know that they are not alone.

The UC San Diego students need your support. They need to know that Jews and our allies support divestment from companies that profit from the occupation.

They need to hear that we all stand proudly together:

With Palestinian student Ibrahim Shikaki and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein;
With student organizations representing every race and ethnicity;
With dozens of professors, Nobel prize winners, and rabbis;
With Archbishop Desmond Tutu, George Bisharat, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, 9 Israeli peace groups
With thousands of grandmothers and grandsons, Muslims and Jews, Christians and atheists, fathers and daughters.

What happens tomorrow in Berkeley and San Diego is critical. Students are watching, studying, planning their own campaigns. These campaigns are politicizing an entire generation of college students who see each other and those in Israel and Palestine as equals. Let UC San Diego senators know that we support a courageous vote that says "The Occupation ends with me."

All our best,

Jewish Voice for Peace

Vote set for April 28, 2010:

UC-San Diego divestment from all military support to the occupation of Palestinian territories:



Posted by marcy/مارسي newman/نيومان

Re: University of California- San Diego divestment vote

April 27, 2010

At: http://usacbi.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/uc-san-diego-divestment-vote-happening-in-2-days-heres-what-you-can-do-urgent-action-needed/

As you may or may not have heard, we here at UC San Diego have launched a divestment campaign and resolution to be voted on THIS Wednesday 4/28 on our campus. The opposition have already started in mass mobilizing emails, letter of opposition, petitions, and propaganda campaigns against what we are doing. In order to counter this and move forward in our progress, we’re requesting your help in:

1. Signing this Petition- SPREAD WIDELY! http://www.PetitionOnline.com/sddivest/petition.html

2. WRITING SUPPORT LETTERS TO ALL OF OUR ASUCSD Council Members: http://as.ucsd.edu/council/roster.php?class=council

3. Reading our Resolution: http://oeoj.ucsd.edu/Divestment_Resolution.pdf

4. Attending our big event at this location: UCSD Price Center East, Fourth Floor in the Forum.
Address: 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093

5. Changing your Profile Picture to the attached file: just until Wednesday after the vote :)

6. Spread the word and this email widely!!




U.C. San Diego resolution to divest from companies that militarily support the occupation of Palestinian territories:

UC San Diego Divestment Resolution

Posted by marcy/مارسي newman/نيومان under Boycott Campaigns, Divestment, Student

April 27, 2010

At: http://usacbi.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/uc-san-diego-divestment-resolution/


1. WHEREAS, the Associated Students of the University of California, San Diego (ASUCSD) is an institution dedicated to promoting peace in all aspects of student experiences; and

2. WHEREAS, the Principles of Community of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) state that UCSD “is dedicated to learning, teaching, and serving society through education, research, and public service;” and

3. WHEREAS, the University of California (UC) has already made significant efforts towards ethical and peaceful investments by divesting from tobacco companies, companies contributing to the Darfur conflict in Sudan, and companies contributing to the apartheid system in South Africa; and

4. WHEREAS, on 13 January 2010 the ASUCSD passed a “Resolution in Support of the Victims of the 12 January 2010 Earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti” stating that the ASUCSD “as global citizens are obliged to play a role in concurrent world events”; and

5. WHEREAS, on 6 May 2009 the ASUCSD passed a “Resolution in Support of UC-Wide Corporate Social Responsibility Practices” urging the UC to “significantly limit asset allocations to non-socially responsible corporations”; and

6. WHEREAS, UCSD student fees contribute financially to United States corporations (see clause 11, 12, 13) that support military occupation; and

7. WHEREAS, the ASUCSD notes the complexity of international relations in all cases, including the Middle East, and recognizes the inability of a body such as the ASUCSD Council to adjudicate matters of international law and human rights law, or to take sides on final status issues on wars and occupations throughout the world; the ASUCSD does, however, note its own ability to abstain from investing in corporations that are furthering international conflicts and violations of human rights; and

8. WHEREAS, the following findings from the United Nations and other leading human rights organizations regarding the conflict in the Palestinian Territories (West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip) provide the context for an ASUCSD divestment effort; and

9. WHEREAS, prior and subsequent to the 2008-2009 Gaza bombing, the occupying force has engaged in collective punishment of the Palestinian population, in the view of the human rights community,1 exemplified by the ongoing 32 month blockade on Gaza, of which the regional branch of Physicians for Human Rights has written, “the prolonged siege imposed… on Gaza, the closing of its borders, the tightening of policies regarding permission to exit Gaza for medical purposes, and the severe shortage of medications and other medical supplies, all severely damage the Palestinian health system and endanger the lives and health of thousands of Palestinian patients,”2 and of which the Red Cross has said, “the whole strip is being strangled, economically speaking”, making life in Gaza “a nightmare” for the civilian population, with essential supplies, including electricity, water, and fuel, being denied to the 1.5 million inhabitants, 90% of whom depend on aid to survive;3 and

10. WHEREAS, within the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the occupying force continues a policy of settlement expansion that, according to the United Nations Security Council, Human Rights Watch, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, constitutes a direct violation of Article 49, paragraph six of the Fourth Geneva Convention which declares that “an occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies.”4 and according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 446 “determines that the policy and practices of [the occupying power] in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”5; and

11. WHEREAS, according to the most recent UC investment report6, within the UC Retirement Program fund and the General Endowment Program fund, there exist direct investments in United States companies that materially support the occupation of the Palestinian territories, specifically the U.S. corporations General Electric and United Technologies; and

12. WHEREAS, General Electric holds engineering support and testing service contracts with the occupying military and supplies the propulsion system for the Apache Assault Helicopter fleets which, as documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have been used in attacks on Palestinian civilians, including the four January 2009 killings of Palestinian medical aid workers7; and

13. WHEREAS, according to Amnesty International, United Technologies supplies the occupying force with Blackhawk helicopters, F-15, and F-16 aircraft engines, which have been used in the bombing of the American School in Gaza, the killing of Palestinian civilians, and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian homes;8

1. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will ensure that its assets, and will advocate that the UC assets, do not include holdings in General Electric and United Technologies because of their non-neutral financial stance in the occupation of Palestinian territories, nor does this delegitmize any country and their right of any peoples to be living in the region; be it further

2. RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will further examine its assets and UC assets for funds being invested in companies that a) provide military support for/or weaponry to support the occupation of the Palestinian territories or b) facilitate the building or maintenance of the illegal wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes, or c) facilitate the building, maintenance, or economic development of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territories; be it further

3. RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will not invest, and will advocate that the UC divests, all stocks, securities, or other obligations from such sources with the goal of maintaining the divestment, in the case of said companies, until they cease such practices. Moreover, the ASUCSD will not make further investments, and will advocate that the UC not make further investments, in any United States companies materially supporting or profiting from occupation and human rights violations in the above mentioned ways; be it further

4. RESOLVED, that this ASUCSD resolution takes a neutral stance in the conflict, and also stands as a principled expression of ethical and peaceful investment practices supporting universal human rights and equality;

5. BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the ASUCSD will recommend additional divestment policies to keep UC investments out of companies profiting from human rights violations throughout the world in other places as determined by the resolutions of the United Nations and other leading international human rights organizations.

[1] United Nations “Press Release on Presentation to the Human Rights Council” by the Fact Finding Mission to Gaza” – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm

[2] United Nations “Media Summary of Report” of Fact Finding Mission to Gaza – http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm

[3] Amnesty International: Israeli Military Action is Collective Punishment – http://www.amnesty.org/en/report/info/MDE15/045/2002

*United Nations press release – http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/0/183ED1610B2BCB80C125751A002B06B2?opendocument

[4] Physicians for Human Rights; http://www.phr.org.il/phr/article.asp?articleid=506&catid=55&pcat=45&lang=ENG

[5] UN Security Council resolution 446 http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/370/60/IMG/NR037060.pdf?OpenElement

[6] UN resolution 194 – http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/3/ares3.htm

[7] Human Rights Watch “Israel’s Settlements Are on Shaky Ground” – http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/06/28/israels-settlements-are-shaky-ground
*International Committee of the Red Cross – http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/c525816bde96b7fd41256739003e636a/77068f12b8857c4dc12563cd0051bdb0

[8] International Court of Justice – http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&case=131&k=5a


"Georgetown Divest! coalition marches to President DeGioia's office‎"

(Click on photo to enlarge it)

April 26, 2010:

Students march on Georgetown University President's office, demanding divestment.

See the article in the Georgetown Voice:

"Georgetown Divest! coalition marches to President DeGioia's office‎"

April 27, 2010


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Ugly Truth:

"more than $300 billion worth of American aid to Israel."

Congressman John Dingell wrote, in 2006, that "during my tenure I have proudly helped to move more than $300 billion worth of American aid to Israel."

--Quoted from Dingell's own article in the Arab American News, August 5 2006, at http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-1126080701.html


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Divestment spreads to University of Wisconsin, Georgetown, Brown, and Irish trade union confederation:

"UC-Berkeley’s new divestment approach"

By Steve Horn

Univerisity of Wisconsin Badger Herald

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

At: http://badgerherald.com/oped/2010/04/20/uc-berkeleys_new_div.php

...When divestment is called for, it is often shunned immediately, yet this time around in Berkeley, in the aftermath of the brutal Operation Cast Lead, the political tide has shifted. The debate, at least among liberals, has moved from “If you’re for divestment, you’re anti-Israel or anti-Semitic” to “There may be other, more effective ways as a liberal peace activist to oppose Israel’s human rights violations than divestment.” This is a huge — let me repeat, huge — step in the right direction.

...Divestment isn’t anti-Semitic because it has absolutely nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with calling on Israel as a state to respect international law and human rights. The occupation does exist because both UN Resolution 242 and the Fourth Geneva Convention, among scores of other legal dictates, say that the occupation is illegal. And it makes sense to single out Israel, if for no other reason than our own government does, in the tune of over $3 billion per year in tax-payer funded military aid, which is more aid than we give any other country in the world — other than Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than we give to the entire continent of Africa.

In reality, divestment is one of the few ways student human rights supporters can make a difference in the Israel-Palestine conflict on a micro-level. The more specific and targeted the call for divestment, the better....

Financial support of repetitive human rights violations will no longer be tolerated. Not in our name.


"ICTU [Irish Confederation of Trade Unions] to seek ways to support sanctions against Israel"

The Irish Times - Saturday, April 17, 2010

At: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2010/0417/1224268541436.html

by MARY FITZGERALD Foreign Affairs Correspondent

THE EXECUTIVE council of Ictu is to consider ways in which it can translate into action its support for Palestinian calls for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Attendees at an Ictu conference on the Middle East held in Dublin yesterday discussed possible ways of implementing such a campaign in Ireland.

Since 2007, Ictu has passed several conference motions in support of calls from Palestinian civil society groups urging an international BDS campaign against Israel.

Addressing yesterday’s gathering at Dublin Castle, Ictu president Jack O’Connor said he would be very concerned if Ictu’s stance was interpreted as being motivated by “hostility to the people of Israel”.

Instead, he argued, it was motivated by “a sense of obligation given our history and our experience . . . an obligation to try to do something when the prospects of justice seem so remote given the imbalance of forces” in the conflict.

Mr O’Connor rejected calls from some attendees for Ictu to sever links with Histadrut, the Israeli labour federation, which is opposed to the BDS campaign. Avital Shapira-Shabirow, director of Histadrut’s international department, prompted a lively exchange of views when she explained her organisation’s position during a panel discussion.
She argued that it was easy to outline “simplistic solutions” to complex situations from afar.

Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the global BDS campaign established in 2005, told the gathering that the boycott as a “moral obligation and political imperative”.
He noted that the campaign was gaining momentum internationally and he praised Ictu’s efforts.

“By holding onto its position and spreading the BDS message, and starting now to think how to apply it practically, Ictu is now applying a lot of pressure on the [Irish] Government and we hope that in time this will bring results.”

Mr Barghouti was one of several speakers to call for Ireland to exercise its veto to block Israel from joining the OECD.

...During one panel discussion at the conference, John Douglas, general secretary of the Mandate trade union, recalled the involvement of Irish retail workers in the boycott against apartheid-era South Africa and said his union would support a consumer-led boycott campaign against Israel followed by a worker-led effort.

“The time for silence is gone, action is required,” he told the gathering.


GUSA Roundup:
Down on divestment, shoutouts for Voice

April 19, 2010
GEORGETOWN VOICE (at Georgetown University)



"The majority of this week’s meeting of the Georgetown University Student Association Senate was spent considering the arguments of Georgetown, Divest!, which is pushing the University to divest from companies that profit from human rights violations in Israel and Palestine..."


The Georgetown, Divest! forum on University investment in Palestine and Israel

April 14, 2010
GEORGETOWN VOICE (at Georgetown University)



...Nonetheless, the campaign launch event, attended by roughly 40 people, pressed for the University to pursue selective divestment from several multinational corporations. Perry outlined the four categories from which the select companies could profit: “Operation on illegally occupied land, the construction and maintenance of the separation barrier, the facilitation of collective punishment including home demolition and land confiscation, and institutionalized discrimination.”

Georgetown, Divest! also called for the University to divest from the following corporations whose work they say falls within those four categories—Ahava, which is a cosmetics company, Motorola Israel, Roadstone Holdings and Riwal, both construction companies, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Veolia Transportation, and Mekorot, a water company.

“Georgetown University has a tradition of social responsibility. Its investment policies must reflect its foundational values … It is not acceptable for a university dedicated to justice and social responsibility to ignore these ideals in its investments,” Perry said.

Dr. Mark Lance, Professor of Justice and Peace, spoke after the presentation and compared the situation to apartheid-era South Africa.

“Every citizen of Israel has the legal nationality of Jewish or Arab. Imagine that the U.S. passed a law that there are white people and black people and that’ll be your nationality. Or Christians and Muslims. I take it that we would call it as it is—racist and evil,” Lance said. “We pay for it, and it’s extremely important to remember. Every person in this room pays for what you saw on this screen. Every person who pays taxes in this country supports this whether you like it or not.”

Father Raymond Kemp also lent his moral support to the campaign, citing the power of non-violent resistance within Catholic social teaching.

“I’m here to applaud you and stand with you. You’re in a great tradition,” Kemp said.

“It is no more anti-Semitic to boycott Israel than it is to say anti-white to boycott South Africa. We all know Israel has a tendency to call anything anti-Semitic,” said Shelley Fudge, a representative from Jewish Voices for Peace.

The group also held an open discussion forum, taking questions from the roughly forty-person audience.

Both Father Kemp and Dr. Lance said that officials from the Investment Office were misrepresenting the University’s long-standing commitment to social justice by claiming that they have no way of ensuring socially responsible investments.

“I’m stunned by it,” said Father Kemp...


Simon Liebling '12:
The right side of history

Published: Friday, April 16, 2010

Brown University



...As we think about ongoing grassroots movements, then, we must remember that the student activists who supported movements like South African divestment were not simply volunteers doing the legwork for a foregone conclusion — they were courageous supporters of an unpopular position. Thus, for all of the controversy that today surrounds calls to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, this divestment movement could, in retrospect, become the moral imperative of our time.

The moral equivalence is well established by those who were heavily involved in the South African anti-apartheid movement. Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes, “Yesterday’s South African township dwellers can tell you about today’s life in the Occupied Territories.” Elsewhere, he has written that the situation in the Occupied Territories “reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa.” Nelson Mandela has made similar comparisons. So did pro-apartheid officials in the old South African government, though they had slightly different intentions.

Divesting from companies profiting from the occupation, then, is as urgent now as it was to divest from companies profiting from South African apartheid in the 1980s. And as Tutu would remind us, we should not for a moment be put off by the controversy surrounding the issue.

Divestment is so imperative because it is a rare way of compelling governments to reform their ways when they otherwise operate with impunity, accountable to no one — as was the case with apartheid South Africa. The simple force of law has proved inadequate in the case of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Israel’s government has disregarded binding legal decisions from both the International Court of Justice and its own Supreme Court that declare the Separation Wall and other aspects of the occupation illegal — the Israeli Supreme Court has no recourse but to hold its own government in contempt time after time.

The Israeli government exhibits such wanton disregard for the rule of domestic and international law because there is no mechanism to force it to obey; it can count on the support of the United States government and the private companies that facilitate the occupation. Divestment, though, grants the international community the enforcement power it sorely needs; it is a way to compel Israel to respect both the law and basic human rights in the Occupied Territories...


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hundreds of Berkeley students fight for divestment against Israeli War Crimes:

Click on page 15 of the Arab American News, April 17-23, 2010, to read the full article.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

At the University of California - Berkeley:

Hundreds Rally to Divest from Israeli War Crimes:

Click on each image to enlarge it --

April 14, 2010,
In the heart of the Berkeley campus:

Ashwak Hauter, a SJP member and UC Berkeley senior from Yemen, said she was protesting because “we know for sure that some of the university’s funding goes toward companies who provide military weapons to Israel.”

More than 200 people took part in a silent protest yesterday afternoon outside Sproul Hall to protest a veto against the UC Berkeley Israel divestment bill which urges the university to withdraw funding from two companies providing military weapons to the Israeli Army. The Associated Students of the University of California deliberated last night on whether to override the veto, but ended up tabling the matter.

Morgan Siegel, whose father is from Israel, sported a "Another Israeli for Human Rights" sticker at the senate meeting. Asked why she was supporting the divestment bill, Siegel said "because wrong is wrong and right is right. You can't escape one Holocaust and create another somewhere else."


"No Final Decision on UC Berkeley Israel Divestment Bill after Marathon Meeting"

After almost nine hours of often contentious debate and discussion Wednesday,the fate of the UC Berkeley student senate Israel divestment bill remains undecided as of Thursday morning. The student senate voted at about 7 a.m. to table the bill, which had been vetoed by senate President Will Smelko last month, until next Wednesday.

The meeting was moved twice to accommodate the overflow crowd, ending up in Pauley Ballroom and starting closer to 11 p.m. than the scheduled 7p.m.

More than 200 people took part in a silent protest Wednesday afternoon outside Sproul Hall to protest a veto of the UC Berkeley Israel divestment bill which urges the university to withdraw funding from two companies providing military weapons to the Israeli Army.

The Associated Students of the University of California senate were scheduled to vote last night on whether to override the veto.

Organized by the Berkeley campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, the rally sought to send a direct, pointed message to ASUC President Will Smelko, who vetoed the bill approved by a 16-4 vote last month.

Over the past few weeks, opponents of the bill, including pro-Israel groups, have been lobbying the senators to uphold Smelko’s veto. Even as the protesters gathered outside Sproul to make a statement, J Street, which calls itself “the political home of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement,” sent out an e-mail blast urging the senators not to overide the veto.

“Our support for the president’s veto is rooted in our belief that the bill does not advance the cause of real peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis. Specifically, the bill fails to express support for Israel’s right to exist as a democratic home for the Jewish people and for a two-state resolution to the conflict,” their letter said. “...In this vein, we oppose, for instance, the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement which supports the right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel and fails to draw a clear distinction between opposition to the post-1967 occupation and opposition to the existence of the state of Israel itself as the democratic home of the Jewish people. Even if it was not the intent of the students who drafted this bill, its passage is now being seized on by the global BDS movement as a victory in its broader campaign.”

Rally participants, however, refused to be unnerved by any kind of pressure. One SJP organizer said that all 200 “Divest from War Crime 4-14-10” rally T-shirts had been used up within minutes of the event starting.

Ashwak Hauter, a SJP member and UC Berkeley senior from Yemen, said she was protesting because “we know for sure that some of the university’s funding goes toward companies who provide military weapons to Israel.”

“I am here to bring awareness because this bill needs to pass,” said Hauter, standing quietly in a row with 20 other supporters. “The senate spoke for the campus, and the students’ voices need to be heard.”

SJP spokesperson and UC Berkeley senior Ali Glenesk said that diverse community groups were taking part in the rally.

“There are faces I don’t even know,” she said. “There’s been a lot of pressure on the senators from pro-Israel groups, but hopefully they will do the right thing.”

ASUC senate candidate Waseem Salahi said that the veto silenced the democratic voice of students.

“Students are outraged” Salahi says, “It’s disappointing because [President Smelko] has never been well versed in the issues, nor does it seem that he has taken any effort to be, but yet he has the audacity to silence the students who worked tirelessly to create this bill. He claims that we need to put the ‘unity’ of campus students ahead of denouncing war crimes, but his veto did not ‘unify’ the campus in any way. He simply alienated the hundreds of supporters who worked tirelessly to put the bill into effect.”

Hauter said Smelko had not been present for the five-hour long senate debate in March. SJP’s formal response to Smelko’s veto is available at www.calsjp.org . In part it says, “We ... Are disapointed that Smelko has chosen to be on the wrong side of history, to be remembered as the president who vetoed a bill against war crimes.”


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Berkeley Student Government Votes again on Divestment against Israeli War Crimes--

"International Attention Focused on ASUC Divestment Vote"

By Allie Bidwell
Contributing Writer, DAILY CALIFORNIAN
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

International attention will descend on the ASUC Senate meeting tonight as senators consider upholding the passage of a controversial bill urging the student government and the University of California to divest from two companies that have provided war supplies to the Israeli military.

The bill names two companies-United Technologies and General Electric-as supplying Israel with the technology necessary to attack civilian populations in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The bill originally passed the senate March 17 by a 16-4 vote following about six hours of discussion. A two-thirds majority, or 14 votes, is needed in order to override the veto.

Senators have received more than 13,000 e-mails, roughly split between both sides of the controversy.

Prominent figures including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, activist Naomi Klein and leftist MIT professor Noam Chomsky have spoken in support of overriding ASUC President Will Smelko's March 24 veto of the bill. Local and national pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-an influential Washington, D.C. lobby organization-Berkeley Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League have each stated the bill is divisive and unfairly targets Israel.

Supporters of the bill say divesting from the two companies would make a powerful statement against Israeli actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which supporters have compared to apartheid-era South Africa.

In a recent letter to the UC Berkeley community, Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts opposing apartheid in South Africa-said he endorsed the bill and urged senators to uphold the original vote, which he compared to similar efforts at UC Berkeley to divest from South Africa in the 1980s.

He said in an e-mail Tuesday that he had a message for ASUC senators.

"I salute you for wanting to take a moral stand," he said in the e-mail. "(Your predecessors) changed the moral climate in the U.S. and the consequence was the Anti-Apartheid legislation, which helped to dismantle apartheid non-violently. Today is your turn. Will you look back on this day with pride or with shame?"

Wayne Firestone, national president of Hillel-a Jewish campus organization-released a statement last month condemning the bill. The statement stated that the bill is "one-sided, divisive and undermines the pursuit of peace" and ignores human rights violations of other countries.

"The ASUC bill will not contribute a whit to the advancement of peace in the Middle East and will only serve to divide the Berkeley community," Firestone said in the statement.

Pro-Israel activist organization J Street U, joined 18 other organizations-including Berkeley Hillel, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, the Jewish National Fund and StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel-in crafting an April 5 letter to UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer stating that they felt the bill was dishonest and misleading.

Among concerns listed in the letter was that the bill "unfairly targets" Israel while marginalizing Jewish students on campus who support Israel.

"Though it states that the 'ASUC resolution should not be considered taking sides in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict,' the exclusive focus on Israel suggests otherwise," the letter states.

Critics of the bill have said senators cannot make a proper judgement of an issue as complicated as the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Student Action Senator Parth Bhatt, who voted against the bill, said he felt the ASUC should not take a stance on such an issue because it marginalizes one community on campus.

"I don't think the ASUC should put any student in that position," Bhatt said. "The conflict is very complex and something I don't think our senators know enough about to vote on."

But CalSERVE Senator Ariel Boone said she supported the bill because she felt compelled to defend human rights.

"I went to Israel and had a really interesting time with Berkeley Hillel in January, and I have Holocaust survivors among my family," Boone said in an e-mail. "I have never felt so uniquely qualified to speak on an issue."

AIPAC has recently stated the need for a strategy to combat anti-Israel sentiments on U.S. university campuses.

"How are we going to beat back the anti-Israel divestment resolution at Berkeley?" said Jonathan Kessler, leadership development director for AIPAC, at a recent conference of the lobbying group. "We're going to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote. This is how AIPAC operates in our nation's capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation's campuses."

But according to spokesperson Josh Block, the group did not take a position in the recent ASUC election.

"We don't rate or endorse candidates," Block said in an e-mail. "Of course we would always, publicly and consistently encourage pro-Israel students to be active in civic and political life."

Read statements in opposition and in support of the divestment bill:

Naomi Klein

Noam Chomsky

Desmond Tutu


Letter to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of UC Berkeley George Breslauer



Friday, April 9, 2010

Georgetown University movement for divestment against Israeli Apartheid

» Master Calendar » Students for Justice in Palestine Events

"Divestment: A Campaign to End Apartheid and Promote Peace"

On the Web site of Georgetown University (Washington, DC), at:

Event Divestment: A Campaign to End Apartheid and Promote Peace

When Tuesday, April 13, 2010 from 8:00pm to 10:00pm

Where White-Gravenor Hall 201B

Event details:

Selective Divestment from Companies that Profit from Human Rights Violations in Israel and Palestine:

A Campaign to End Apartheid and Promote Peace

In September of 1986, Georgetown students united to call for an end to our university’s ties to apartheid South Africa, initiating a campaign that led the university to divest from corporations tied to South Africa’s military and government. In April of 2008, Georgetown students successfully convinced the Board of Trustees to divest from companies that supported the Sudanese government in carrying out human rights abuses. On April 13, 2010, Georgetown students will unveil a campaign to encourage our university to divest from companies in Israel and the Occupied Territories that violate human rights and support apartheid.

With the decisions of the Presbyterian Church the Academic Union of Teachers in the United Kingdom, the Norwegian government, the Board of Trustees at Hampshire College, and many other organizations to pursue divestment from companies that violate international law and violate human rights in Israel and Palestine, a growing international movement is building to pressure Israel to reform its policies and end its illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Georgetown Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) seeks to make Georgetown a relevant player in this grassroots movement for change. SJP encourages the Board of Trustees to acknowledge Georgetown’s commitment to social justice and human rights.

Coalition member Jackson Perry will formally present the case for pursuing selective divestment in the Israeli-Palestinian context. The event will also include a panel comprised of Father Raymond Kemp (Campus Ministry), Professor Mark Lance (Program on Justice and Peace), and Shelley Fudge (Jewish Voices for Peace). Join us as we launch this historic campaign at Georgetown to end apartheid and bring peace to Israel and Palestine!

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Sponsors: Students for Justice in Palestine

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