A Leap of Faith Fell Flat

By Students for Justice in Palestine

Executive Board

This quarter, UCSD Students for Justice in Palestine was organizing a “Resolution to Divest from Companies Profiting from Violent Conflict.” The resolution addressed General Electric and Northrop Grumman, two companies that provide parts of Apache helicopters that have been documented by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to cause civilian deaths in the Palestinian territories.

The resolution was originally set to be presented on April 20, 2011. In respect to those students observing Passover, specifically those connected with the resolution, SJP leadership agreed to postpone the presentation until April 27, 2011.  On April 22, 2011, five days before the resolution was to be presented, an unaffiliated third party council member arranged for representatives from Tritons for Israel and SJP to meet.

In this meeting, SJP conditionally offered to include certain proposals put forth by TFI in a new draft of the resolution. There were certain core elements of SJP’s mission statement and the resolution that could not be negotiated upon. The representatives of TFI agreed to those terms and the process of outlining a new project continued.  Though members of SJP had spent over two years working on the resolution (in addition to the two years of research done by students at UC Berkeley), SJP agreed to work with the group for the betterment of campus climate. Moreover, despite numerous failed attempts at a joint resolution in the past, SJP took a leap of faith in the spirit of putting forth a more inclusive effort.

After being informed that the board members of TFI were unanimously behind this joint project, representatives of the organizations worked until the early morning of April 27 to draft a statement defining intentions and mutual goals. SJP expressed its unwavering intent to include the companies stated in the original resolution as well as other corporations profiting from the perpetuation of ongoing violent conflict. Furthermore, SJP agreed to the

recommendation of supporting companies that develop both Palestinian and Israeli society. This statement was intended to increase cooperation and communication between members of each community.

On the afternoon of April 27, a few hours before the council meeting, TFI informed SJP that they would not be supportive of the joint statement because the core elements originally agreed upon became widely contested in their community.  By this time, SJP informed the larger community that a new joint project would be pursued and the current resolution would not be presented.

The last-minute nature of TFI’s retraction has demonstrated to the campus community that this level of critical dialogue is not a priority for their organization. Further negotiation on this issue with a group that has disregard for the fundamental aims of the original resolution for corporate responsibility and neutral investments will prove futile. It is evident that SJP’s mission statement of “organizing in accordance with democratic principles to promote justice, human rights and the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people” is also not a priority for the leadership of Tritons for Israel. Above all, the unanswered call for institutional neutrality on the UCSD campus demonstrates a blatant indifference towards the Principles of Community and the moral standards set by this university.

SJP at UCSD expresses their full intention to move forward with divestment in the 2011-12 school year. All members of the UCSD community are welcome to take part in this process.

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