UCI Passes Unanimous Divestment Resolution

    This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared online and in print on Sunday Nov. 18. It has been amended for factuality.

    UC Irvine became the first UC school to pass a divestment resolution, urging its campus to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last Tuesday, Nov 13.

    The resolution was unanimously passed by the Associated Students of UCI, with 16 votes in favor and zero oppositions. The student representatives proposed the withdrawal of investment funds from companies manufacturing weapons used by the Israeli military, such as Hewlett Packard, Caterpillar, General Electric Company and Raytheon.

    “I believe the council is very open to hearing about companies to divest from that violate human rights,” A.S. President of UCI Traci Ishigo said in an email.

    The council wrote the resolution in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, a strategy to get Israel to comply with international law and Palestinian rights. According to the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) website, www.bdsmovement.net, BDS has become a global movement against “Israeli Apartheid” as a result.

    UCI Legislation posted a press release Nov. 13 announcing its resolution to divest from companies that profit from apartheid.

    “I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our University,” UCI Student Representative of Legislation Sabreen Shalabi said, according to the press release.

    Last March, UC San Diego voted down a divestment attempt, proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP proposed divestment resolutions in 2010 and 2011 as well.

    In May 2010, UC Berkeley turned down a similar resolution urging the UC system to divest from General Electric and United Technologies, two American companies that produced aircraft for Israel’s army. The student senate passed the resolution and was later vetoed by A.S. President Will Smelko.

    UC Regents Russell Gould, Sherry Lansing and Mark Yudof responded to the Berkeley events with a “Statement on Divestment,” affirming their position on divestment.

    The statement claims that the Board of Regents is fully supportive of divestment only when the United States government declares a foreign government of committing genocide.

    After ASUCI passed the resolution through its executive and judicial boards, the UCI administration released a statement claiming they are not divesting from Israel.

    “Such divestment is not the policy of this campus, nor is it the policy of the University of California,” the UCI administration stated.

    UCSD Tritons for Israel President Ben Hass believes that despite UCI not cutting ties, it will have an impact across the UC campuses.

    “We, Tritons for Israel, really object to what these resolutions are saying,” Hass said. “They’re targeting Israel specifically and we feel as if we are unfairly being singled out and attacked because we are Israeli and these resolutions always mention some criticism to Israel.”

    UCSD’s SJP commends ASUCI’s resolution to divest from Israel and is supportive of a divestment resolution in the UC system. UCSD SJP posted a press release Nov. 13 in response to the UCI divestment resolution.

    “We at UCSD SJP are hopeful to see the tide turn in favor of human rights, equality, dignity, and an end to systems of settler-colonialism, both in Palestine and across allied struggles,” the press release stated.

    In response to UCI’s divestment resolution, TFI plans to take action by informing UCSD’s student body why it is important to object divestment. By talking to students on Library Walk, TFI hopes to let students know why this resolution affects them.

    “There’s been a lot going on in Israel right now, and just to make things clear, we stand in total solidarity with the civilians that were killed on both sides of this conflict, and it’s absolutely tragic anytime innocent people have to die,” Hass said. “We just want the violence to end.”

    Ishigo believes that ASUCI’s decision to pass the resolution exhibits the strength and integrity of UCI’s students in globally protecting human rights.

    “I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity,” Ishigo stated in UCI’s divestment press release.

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