Sunday, September 15

Students voice opinions on USAC divestment resolution


Michael Reyes, a fourth-year English student, was one of many students who spoke at Tuesday night's Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting to express his support for the divestment resolution. Hundreds of students spent hours advocating for and against the resolution. (Angie Wang/Daily Bruin)

Michael Reyes, a fourth-year English student, was one of many students who spoke at Tuesday night's Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting to express his support for the divestment resolution. Hundreds of students spent hours advocating for and against the resolution. (Angie Wang/Daily Bruin)


Editor’s note: Because of the offensive nature of discussion around this article, commenting has been closed.

Lines of students stretched the length of Ackerman Grand Ballroom Tuesday night as an impassioned discussion unfolded about a controversial undergraduate student government divestment resolution.

More than 500 students attended the Undergraduate Students Association Council meeting to support or criticize a resolution calling for UCLA and the University of California to divest from fivecompanies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

The meeting had to be moved from its regular location in Kerckhoff Hall to accommodate the overwhelming student interest. When the USAC meeting was called to order, hundreds of chairs were filled, with overflow crowding the back of the room.

As of midnight, councilmembers had yet to start their discussion of the resolution.

Discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a geopolitical dispute over the Israeli military’s presence in Gaza and the West Bank, among other issues – have elicited polarized responses from the campus community.

Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA, a student organization that advocates for Palestinian rights, created the resolution to ask the university and the UC to divest from Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Cemex. The resolution says that the companies violate Palestinian human rights by indirectly contributing to violent acts that are committed against Palestinians, preventing them from owning property and infringing upon their privacy, among other violations.

The resolution alleges that UCLA and the UC show “implicit support for the decisions and actions” of these companies by investing in them.

Though the resolution states it is solely about divestment, students repeatedly claimed it was too closely aligned with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which advocates for the end of Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories.

At Tuesday’s meeting, many students vehemently expressed their frustrations about the resolution, condemning it as a measure they said demonizes Jewish students and unfairly focuses on Israel rather than on human rights abuses that occur in other countries.

“If you think that you can just consider this resolution in a vacuum, you’re either incredibly naive, or you’re lying to yourself or to your constituents,” said Avinoam Baral, chief of staff in the Internal Vice President’s office, member of Bruins for Israel and a third-year human biology and society student.

During more than five hours of public comments, numerous students spoke passionately about the resolution, compelling councilmembers to empathize with their communities and experiences.

Some students described their firsthand experiences with discrimination and violence at checkpoints in Palestinian territories and said they have seen the separation wall between Jerusalem and the West Bank divide communities.

Many students in support of the resolution said they feel like they are being forced to financially contribute to the suffering of members of the Palestinian communities.

“I don’t want to have our tuition (pay) to have … our family suffer. So think beyond your seats, vote yes,” one public commenter said to the councilmembers.

Some other speakers talked about their families in Israel, who think security measures in Palestinian territories keep their communities safe. They said companies listed in the resolution contribute to these safety efforts,while other students said the same measures work to oppress Palestinian communities.

As the discussion became heated, some students said they felt attacked by the comments at the meeting.

Safwan Ibrahim, a third-year physics student and member of Students for Justice in Palestine, said he felt that students were characterizing Palestinians as violent and as terrorists and that everyone at the meeting was allowing it to happen.

He said he thinks Palestinian students cannot feel safe on campus because such characterizations go “unchecked.”

“(Palestinians) are not the monsters under the bed, we are not the boogie men behind the wall. We are human beings of flesh and blood,” Ibrahim said during his public comment.

Some students who opposed the resolution shared open letters from their professors who expressed their disagreement with the resolution.

Jacob Nober, a first-year student, read aloud a letter from Joseph Manson, a UCLA professor of anthropology.

Manson’s statement said that he disagrees with the resolution because he views it as a part of the larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which he wrote “(aims) to completely isolate Israel economically and culturally” and end it as a “sovereign Jewish state.”

Though many public commenters said they view divestment as inherently anti-Semitic, others expressed disagreement with the idea that proponents of the resolution harbor prejudice toward Jewish students.

Various student groups on campus came to express their stances on the resolution.

Eryk Waligora, a fourth-year history student and finance director of Bruin Democrats, spoke on behalf of the Bruin Democrats and said group members think the resolution fails to support open dialogue.

Waligora added that while the organization recognizes the “severe conditions of Palestinians in occupied territories,” they do not think a “simple resolution” can remedy the situation.

Members of the Afrikan Student Union said they viewed the circumstances of Palestinians living in occupied territories as similar to those that racial and ethnic communities experience within the prison-industrial complex.

“We understand the pain, suffering and trauma a community can face from inhumane corporations,” said Kamilah Moore, a fourth-year political science student and chairwoman of the Afrikan Student Union.

Members of the Afrikan Student Union and other student groups also said USAC should vote to pass the resolution because it has previously passed resolutions that forced councilmembers to take “moral” stances on controversial issues.

Specifically, students referenced a recent USAC resolution that called for UCLA and the UC to divest from companies that invest in private prisons and compared the private prison system to a form of modern-day Jim Crow.

Some members denounced the student government’s decision to bring the resolution to table.

Evan Moffitt, a fourth-year art history student, announced his resignation from his position as director of community engagement in General Representative 3 Lizzy Naameh’s office at Tuesday’s meeting.

Moffitt said he disagrees with the council’s decisions to take stances on issues that are focused on “global politics” rather than concentrating on efforts to improve the university, such as increasing access to mental health resources.

At midnight, students continued to voice their opinions on the resolution through public comments, with at least 100 more students in line. For updated coverage of the entire meeting, visit dailybruin.com.

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  • adslkjf

    Wish people were this passionate about divesting from the largest sponsor of terrorism worldwide: Pakistan.
    But a lot of you college punks are just interested in “looking cool” and divesting from Israel makes you “look cool” and makes you guys think you are really intelligent. “Looking cool” is the most defining feature of our immoral culture today. The heck with morality and keeping your mouth shut and doing your job.

    All of these USAC people, especially Lizzy Naameh, aren’t here to serve UCLA. They are here for their own self interest. Evan Moffitt is the only man with integrity, because of his resignation.

    I personally don’t give a jack about Israel or Palestine, but it’s very obvious to note that Hamas is no saint. It is a terrorist organization.

    • NatalieIsEvil

      Our tuition isn’t invested in Hamas or Pakistan. And financing human rights violations isn’t suddenly ok just because there are also other human rights violations elsewhere. That’s a pathetic excuse that precludes any progress from occurring.

      • Elon

        Have you actually checked that the is no tie between UCLA and a major country like Pakistan? Or are you just assuming such so you need not explain why Israel is more important? Because I guarantee you multinational corporations probably have dealings almost everywhere.

        • NatalieIsEvil

          We are not directly invested in Pakistani state apparatuses. That’s a fact. And sure, some corporations–including the ones targeted by this bill–probably also violate human rights in Pakistan. But that’s just all the more reason to unite against the common enemies: GE, HP, etc.

          • Elon

            You said it wasn’t about Israel; it was about those corporations. But it is about Israel, because you are totally ignorant that we are invested in “Pakistani state apparatuses” in exactly the same way. As well as other state apparatuses.

            We are invested in corporations that commit humans rights abuses all over the globe, because there is no way not to invest in these companies and still invest. To single them out for doing business in one country, when they do the same business in a dozen others, is not “starting somewhere”. It is being ignorant of geopolitics as a whole.

    • Michelle T.

      We’re not for divestment because we want to “look cool”; we’re arguing for divestment because we want to do what’s right.

      • Dismantle USAC

        Divesting from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is what is right. They are the largest sponsors of terrorism in the world, killing people of all faiths. You are for divestment “to look cool”.

        • Michelle T.

          You do NOT know me. If you did, you, like the rest of my friends, would know that I never EVER act in a certain way just to “look cool”. The concept of “looking cool” is the OPPOSITE of what I stand for. For example, the main guidelines I live my life are: (1) to continually push myself to live outside of my comfort zone so that I can learn and grow as a person; (2) to stick to my ideals and act according to what I view as best for myself and others, even if my ideals, perspectives, and actions differ greatly from that of the norm; and (3) to act with kindness, compassion, and sensitivity towards every human being I meet. What are the guidelines that YOU live your life by?

          Furthermore, your logic is flawed. You’re attempting to attack me as a person in order to invalidate my argument because you HAVE no argument. Moreover, I’m for divesting from any company that impinges on the rights of any human being. While I acknowledge that I don’t know as much about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as I do the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, if it is true that human rights atrocities are being made on a daily basis in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and a resolution to divest from companies that support those policies came up, I would fully support it.

  • ThisIsPalestine

    When the pro-divestment people lost, they responded by chanting slogans like toddlers throwing a tantrum, then yelling “SHAME ON YOU” at the very student council they were trying to convince five minutes earlier (3:10:30 in this video):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc8m3vqUjDg&feature=share&t=3h6m16s

    Way to lose with dignity.

    • adslkjf

      They are truly losers. I would like to add that UCLA Indus, does NOT represent or speak for a majority of the Indian community, which along with the Israeli community, constantly experiences vicious Islamic terrorist attacks. We Indians would like to thank the Israel Defense Forces for offering to help in the Kenya mall terrorist attack, a brutal Muslim terrorist attack that claimed the lives of at least 35 Hindus.

  • Philassie

    Israel is not occupying Gaza since 2005. Do some basic fact checking. The anti-Israel side piled on emotionally manipulative lies and hate speech for 8 hours last night. It is a disgrace that Ucla entertained such Orwellian madness. I am appalled at the level of gullibility and ignorance exhibited by the students and by the level of maliciousness of so many of the pro divestment speakers.

    • adslkjf

      I thought it was hilarious when that girl Danielle Dimacali who was doing the notetaking started cursing and using profanity, when she lost. Shows you how messed up our generation is. Cries like a 5 year old and uses profanity when she doesn’t get something she wants. She may have learned how to do calculus, but she never learned civility!

      • jaimeson

        Check yourself. This is unacceptable. You’re despicable to be publicly gloating like this and a coward to target her personally and without provocation. “When she lost”? Really? She is the Usac minutes taker; it was her job to sit through that 12 hr ordeal. She didn’t vote or even comment publicly. She WAS completely neutral. And how dare you poke fun at the sadness that she -and many other students- feel because Usac council has decided that “being neutral” is more important than human rights. Usually it’s just things (like this vote) that make me ashamed to be a Bruin, but sometimes it’s people like you.

        • Danielle Dimacali

          As someone who came in completely neutral I find that ironic that you thought it was “hilarious.” And this is everything that is wrong with our campus, obvious blatant racist microaggression “she may have learned how to do calculus” is it because I’m asian? I must have never learned civility? Am I supposed to remain submissive? No, I just know when to stand up for what I believe in and what I believe is right. I will not silence myself or censor my language to make you feel more comfortable.

          • wueroie

            Your behavior was unprofessional. I find it ironic you are smart enough to get into UCLA, but cannot learn basic civility. I do not want you to censor yourself. Say whatever you want. I will defend you right to do so. I have a right to criticize whatever you say though. Your profanity and lack of professionalism was worthy of being criticized.

          • Dismantle USAC

            You stereotyping anyone who disagrees with you as telling you to “remain submissive” is a misandric comment. Misandry and Misogyny are equally reprehensible.

      • Fabienne

        I second Jaimeson. Dear adslkjf, dear anonymous commenter who, for some reason is afraid to disclose their name.
        Congratulations. Congratulations on posting offensive and uncalled for comments, while shielded by your anonymity. I would like to let you know that our comments are completely out of line.
        As someone who has a different opinion to Danielle on this occasion I am disgusted by your comment. How dare you delegitimise someone’s opinion just because they don’t fall in line with your own? Yes, she may have a different view to you but that does not make her concerns any less legitimate than yours and your closed minded attitude is honestly sad.
        Do you know what shows me how messed up my generation is? Comments like yours. Comments that dehumanise people and their views. You need to re-evaluate how you relate to people because your blatant lack of respect for fellow human beings is sad and quite frankly unacceptable. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that the 5 year old in this situation is you; at least own up to your identity if you’re going to make debasing comments.
        I’ll tell you what the problem with ‘this generation’ is: it’s the lack of understanding, compassion and RESPECT for people. Differing opinions are INTEGRAL to the advancement of society and our values and I encourage dialogue on every issue presented.

        Danielle is one of the kindest and most compassionate people I have ever met. She has done nothing but build bridges between differing communities, always showing poise and respect regardless of the situation. She is someone who looks past party lines, past differences and embraces everyone for who they are and judging from your comment, you unfortunately do not.

        I hope you walk away from this and take a long hard look at who you are and how you relate to people because if you can’t even be civil then your life is going to get much harder.

        • wueroie

          Criticizing someone’s unprofessional behavior and profanity falls within civilized behavior. Screaming profanity is uncivil. Since when is using profanity at a public meeting a sign of civilized behavior?

          • Elon

            People shouldn’t gloat, and the Asian stereotyping was completely inappropriate. But she was extremely unprofessional.

          • wueroie

            I am Asian myself and I suck at math. She might be capable of understanding complex academic subjects (you have to be in order to get into UCLA), but she demonstrated she isn’t capable of understanding what is civilized behavior at a public forum.

            Her stereotyping that I think she should be ‘submissive’, shows her misandric beliefs and is completely inappropriate. Misandry and misogyny are equally reprehensible.

          • Danielle Dimacali

            For the record, my job ends after the meeting has been adjourned. I used to consider good and welfare as a safe space for dialogue with the council members, some of those who I consider my closest friends. I am just as justified as getting impassioned over something as the public commenters. The heat of the moment and the intense emotions I felt led to the deluge of tears and strong diction. How dare you call me uncivil, you don’t even know me outside of my reaction to something I found extremely upsetting.

          • No, You are the privileged one

            A resolution about Israel “led to the deluge of tears and strong diction”? Are you real?

          • Danielle Dimacali

            Yeah I’m real, are you?

          • Danielle Dimacali

            It wasn’t the resolution that prompted the reaction, it was all the people that I watched get hurt over it. Nothing against Israel here, so please don’t put words in my mouth.

          • No, You are the privileged one

            So your friends are getting all worked up over a resolution?

            Look, you go to UCLA, so you must be smart. And I appreciate the fact that you are obviously passionate about what you believe in. But holy crap, just reading about all this makes me think that all of the folks in that room lack a lot in the way of perspective. It’s one thing to have an opinion about an issue. It’s an entirely different thing to stay up all night getting into a heated debate about something that will have absolutely zero bearing on your life. I wish I had the time, youth, and intelligence that you and your classmates have — use it all wisely.

          • Danielle Dimacali

            Thank you, I really do take that to heart

          • Dismantle USAC

            You should go to breitbart.com (one of the most popular news sites in America) and if you scroll down a little there is a link called “WATCH: Anti-Israel Student’s Epic Meltdown After Student Council Votes Down Divestment”. You are getting quite a bit of publicity, which is what you wanted.

          • jaimeson

            This was not meant to be about Israel. This was about USAC council having the chance to stop our tuition from funding human rights violations- and they failed to do it. I’d ask that you excuse our “deluge of tears and strong diction” but then that would imply your anonymous opinion matters.

          • No, You are the privileged one

            “This was about USAC council having the chance to stop our tuition from funding human rights violations- and they failed to do it.”

            But they didn’t have the chance to do any such thing. That’s the whole point.

            “I’d ask that you excuse our “deluge of tears and strong diction” but then that would imply your anonymous opinion matters.”

            Come on, man. The language she used was over the top. Deluge of tears? Did someone die? Perspective is an amazing thing.

          • Fabienne

            Because the element of race and racial stereotypes was brought in. As soon as you make a racist comment you delegitimise your statement and view because it’s skewed and inappropriate

          • wueroie

            The calculus comment was not meant to be a racist comment. She decided she wanted to make it one. And for the record I am Asian. What I meant is that she might be capable of understanding complex academic subjects such as calculus, biology, history, philosophy, etc (you pretty much have to be in order to get accepted into UCLA), but she is clearly not capable of understanding what is appropriate civil behavior in the public hemisphere.

        • No, You are the privileged one

          “How dare you delegitimise someone’s opinion just because they don’t fall in line with your own?”

          Isn’t this what happens when people start shouting slogans when the outcome isn’t what they desired?

          The irony, it burns my eyes.

  • Jillian Beck

    A reminder to keep the conversation civilized. See above for our comments policy. We do not permit personal attacks and reserve the right to discontinue comments if they do continue.

    Jillian Beck
    Editor in chief

    • Anon

      Why is the divestment issue being covered so much by the Daily Bruin? Whether the bill passed or not is just about irrelevant to most of the student body. Especially compared to topics that affect everyone.
      Like the fact that the UC endowment has the worst investment returns among the largest college funds in the country. (1 article)
      Or that our winter break has been cut by a week and that the school year will basically start in October because a religious holiday conflicts with move-in dates! (2 articles).
      And yet, all we see are pages on pages of opinions on whether or not to divest.
      i personally feel a bit more sympathetic towards the Palestinians in this conflict, but as i and most of the people on this campus do not have ties with either party, i see no reason why this topic should have any more coverage than something like divesting from prisons or the plan to reduce water consumption over the next seven years.

    • Lulu

      I would like to ask you to remove the comments made by ThisisPalestine and adslkjf as they both are hateful and rude comments. This is threatening as a Palestinian student and do not believe what they said should be allowed to remain posted.

      • ThisIsPalestine

        Threatening, really? I didn’t say anything about Palestinians, only about “pro-divestment people.” Are you saying *all* Palestinians support divestment? I find that extremely racist. Your whining attempt to censor everyone who disagrees with you isn’t going to work.

  • No, You are the privileged one

    I’m no longer a student, so please let me know if I am misunderstanding what happened here:

    1. Some students were upset that some of UC’s money is being invested with some companies who have some marginal amount of business activities in Israel.
    2. The students bring that resolution up for a vote.
    3. The resolution, if passed, would ask that UC stop investing money in that fashion, even though the powers-that-be have said that they will not do so.
    4. Hundreds of students attend a meeting to voice their opinions for or against the resolution.
    5. The students stay up until the wee hours of the morning debating and finally voting.
    6. When the resolution does not pass, some students get very upset.

    If this is the case, then I suspect that many of you will look back in a few years and think, “wow, I had a lot of free time on my hands back in college.”

    • Michelle T.

      or, we’ll think back to our time in college and think, “Wow, I’m glad that I was able to take time out of my busy life to support a cause that I felt so passionate about. I got more out of college than many others did- an ability to think for myself, a voice, and a beautiful community.”

  • jeffklives

    Holy cow…I think current situation is bad and I am all pushing both sides to work harder to reach a negotiated agreement to settle the I/P conflict.
    The conditions in the West Bank and Gaza are bad but aren’t like the Warshaw Ghetto. Over 100,000 died from random murders, disease or starvation at Warsaw before they were sent to Treblinka.
    One of the targets of the divestment in this resolution was Caterpillar. It looks like Catapillar products are widely used in the West Bank by the Palestinians. http://www.pfmep.org/addressing-the-issues/110-facts-on-caterpillar-tractor The Palestinians seem okay with Caterpillar.
    I understand that people have good intentions with this type of resolution. They see an injustice and want to take action and think pushing for divestment is a peaceful way to take action. But its misguided.
    Instead of trying to target a group of companies and energizing the BDS crowd, a better idea is to try to get moderates on both sides to work together and tell leaders that they want peace based upon an agreed upon framework.
    Both sides have a majority who want peace under the principal of two states for two people. Both sides think the other side is not sincere when they want the two state solution. The way to overcome this mental barrier and marginalize the extremists is for the moderates on both sides to join together and give leaders flexibility and some general framework of what they are willing to compromise for a peaceful settlement.

    • jeffklives

      I did a couple poking around the Internet and found another company targeted for divestment was HP.

      It looks like HP is one of the companies trying to build up the West Bank as a tech hotbed.

      “foreign investors and NGOs are pumping cash into the Palestinian Authority’s nascent tech industry.

      The State Department announced on December 17 the launch of the Palestine Information Communications Technology Capacity Building Initiative (PITI).

      PITI is a collaborative project between the State Department, USAID, Partners for a New Beginning, Cisco, Google, ***HP***, Intel, Medcor and Salesforce.com.

      The project is designed to “enhance Palestinian economic capacity in the information communications technology (ICT) sector by facilitating partnerships between Palestinian ICT companies and U.S. multinational companies, particularly those with operations in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Jordan, and the broader Middle East.”

      http://www.fastcompany.com/1711414/palestinian-tech-firms-fueled-israel-google-cisco-intel

      • billposer

        It is generally true that Israeli companies in Judea and Samaria benefit Palestinians by employing large numbers of them at wages much higher than is typical in the area. Another company recently in the news, Sodastream, employs 500 Palestinians.

  • pat roberts

    These students wanting divestment show nothing but anti-Jew hatred.

  • JaneSmith100

    Just wondering what Arabic countries do to people that aren’t Islamic. Oh wait…..