Saturday, August 24

Submission: UCLA must follow UCSC’s example, decide to divest


The movement to stop the University of California system from investing in corporations that violate Palestinian human rights reached an important milestone on May 28. After hours of public comment and senate deliberation, the student government at the UC Santa Cruz voted by a 22-14 margin to endorse divestment. Five of the nine undergraduate UC campuses have endorsed divestment, all within the last two years, while three of the four remaining schools – including UCLA – have had extremely close votes.

The movement’s success at a majority of UC campuses within two years is a historic accomplishment and indicates several important trends.

First, there is a wide and growing consensus that the prolonged military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip is unacceptable. More and more people understand that this occupation violates the basic human rights we take for granted – the right to move freely in one’s own country, the right to access education, the right not to be arbitrarily arrested and so on.

Second, students throughout the UC system are beginning to see that the UC’s investments in Caterpillar, CEMEX, Cement Roadstone Holdings, General Electric and Hewlett-Packard are directly and on a daily basis contributing to the violation of these basic rights. Asking the UC to divest from these companies is morally and logically congruous with other student campaigns asking for divestment from the fossil fuel industry and private prisons.

Third, UC students are coming to the conclusion that there is no credible progressive alternative to divestment. Unfortunately, the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to broker a settlement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have failed. In a blockbuster interview with an Israeli paper, members of Kerry’s own staff publicly blamed the collapse of the talks on the Israeli government’s continued settlement construction, stating, “There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure, but people in Israel shouldn’t ignore the bitter truth – the primary sabotage came from the settlements.” Shortly after the talks broke down, Kerry himself warned that Israel was quickly becoming an apartheid state – a conclusion that many others, including Israeli leaders, have already reached. Thus, it is clear that so long as we as a UC community continue to invest in the companies that build and expand these settlements, we are making a negative contribution to the cause of peace.

Despite the vote at UCLA having failed by a narrow margin, there is much evidence that public opinion is shifting greatly. Student organizations from a wide spectrum of the campus have endorsed divestment from companies that violate Palestinian human rights. The Daily Bruin editorial board wrote that “the moral core of the resolution is on point – the University of California should not invest in companies complicit in human rights abuse.” The paper was joined in stronger terms by powerful articles in newsmagazines La Gente, Al-Talib and Fem.

This spirit is being echoed nationally as well. During his recent commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania, singer John Legend appealed to students to adopt a universal conception of love, one in which “we see a young Palestinian kid not as a future security threat or demographic challenge, but as a future father, mother and lover.” We cannot do that while investing in structures of violence that diminish these futures. Although UCLA has not yet divested from these forms of violence, Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA is determined to keep trying until we are successful.

The status quo is unacceptable, and UCLA students and faculty of conscience must rise to the occasion and call for an end to our financial complicity in the oppression of the Palestinian people. It’s time to follow the example set by the majority of schools in the UC system. It’s time to be on the right side of history.

Kurwa is a graduate student in sociology and a member of SJP. Zahzah is a graduate student in comparative literature and the president of SJP.

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  • http://rdsathene.blogspot.com Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene

    Yes.

  • Literally

    Nothing better to do than write articles about bringing BDS to campus during finals week…oh wait, graduate students are in charge of SJP? That totally makes sense.

    • Sarah

      graduate student of sociology no less

  • Mifty Popularis

    Pretty funny article when the Muslim Student groups like Students for Justice for Palestine have ties to terrorist groups that attack Americans. They’re in the pocket of the most despicable human rights abusers and they’re talking about Israel? Enough lying already

  • Mifty Popularis

    Are these the innocent Palestinians the writers of the article are whining are being mistreated? http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/hunt-for-three-israelis-believed-kidnapped-by-palestinian-militants-1.1831947

  • Benjamin Gelbart

    Rubish……..

  • Youssef

    Guys, are you out of your mind? What is wrong with you? 300 girls were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria and are forced to convert to Islam, 1700 Iraqi prisoners were massacred on the weekend, 60 civilians were killed yesterday in Syria by government forces, 48 non-muslims people were killed on Monday in Kenya by Islamists and you write about SJP! Basmala, do something to stop the killings, not this propaganda and hate.

    • Natalie Shrock

      Finally, the voice of reason.

  • ThisIsPalestine

    Hey, here’s suggestion for how to “end your financial complicity in the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

    LEAVE UCLA.

    In fact, since American tax dollars finance the Israeli military, you should leave America too. Go back to Gaza maybe, or Tehran. I can promise you that no one here will miss you. Heck, I would help pay for your ticket.

  • garyfouse

    Palestinian human rights are not being violated by anybody other than the terrorists they have hitched their wagon to ever since the 1960s beginning with Yasir Arafat. How ironic that the only democracy in the Middle East is subject to this organized BDS movement? In Egypt, churches are being burned and Christian children abducted and forced to convert to Islam. No BDS movement. In Syria, the rebels are killing Christians when they are not killing Alawites. Silence. In Iran, gays and hanged and Baha’i are persecuted by the state. No BDS movement. In Sudan, Christians are persecuted, but no BDS movement.

    How about Nigeria, where Boko Haram massacres Christians daily and holds 300 mostly Christian schoolgirls hostage? Have you seen any demonstrations at UCLA about that?. How about a BDS against Pakistan, where Christians are persecuted and arrested or murdered on trumped-up charges of blasphemy?

    Human rights? Give me a break. This is not about who owned what land prior to 1948. It is about religion, pure and simple. The Muslims will never accept a Jewish state. It must be Muslim. As we speak there is a program of genocide aimed at Christians in the Middle East. And you allow yourselves to be swayed by pro-Palestinian activists who tell you that Israel is committing human rights violations against the Palestinians-the same people who are devoted to killing every last Jew in the Holy land.

  • BradD99

    Quiz for “pro-Palestinian” activists and BDS supporters:

    1) Why is a Jewish state racist/evil yet Muslim states acceptable?
    A) Obviously all the states are acceptable, unless someone is an anti-Jewish bigot and a hypocrite.

    2) If Israel still has 1.5 million Arab citizens, while the Arab states that surround Israel have erased their Jewish populations to almost zero, who is guilty of ethnic cleansing?
    A) The Arab states, obviously, unless you’re a dishonest anti-semite.

    3) Why are Arab-majority states allowed to be Arab, Muslim-majority states allowed to be Muslim, yet the world’s one tiny Jewish-majority state not allowed to be Jewish?
    A) Because… antisemitic hypocrite.