Saturday, January 25

Submission: USAC bill fails to consider Palestinian view

This week the Undergraduate Students Association Council Internal Vice President Avi Oved is expected to present a bill to USAC that claims to seriously engage the Israeli-Palestinian impasse but instead fails to address several major questions.

First, the bill claims to know what Palestinians want and argues that investing in Palestinian businesses, as opposed to divesting from Israeli corporations directly engaged in ongoing human rights violations, will contribute to peace. We wonder how the authors came to this conclusion, as prominent Palestinian businessmen directly contradict the idea that investment alone can solve the problems that come with occupation.

As Zahi Khouri, the CEO of the Coca-Cola franchise in the West Bank and Gaza, told a congress of United Methodist delegates in 2012: “It may shock you, but whenever there is a viable project identified in Palestine, we can raise the funds … We don’t need your financial help, your charity. What we need is to be able to operate freely.”

Do the authors of this bill know something that Khouri doesn’t? What gives them the authority to speak on behalf of Palestinians?

Second, the bill claims that divestment is divisive, but it doesn’t explain how ending our financial ties to companies engaged in harmful behavior hurts anyone. Instead, divestment is a perfectly legitimate strategy that has been and continues to be employed for a wide range of causes.

Would this bill, which vaguely refers to “divestment resolutions at other UC campuses,” rule out divestment from companies profiting from the California prison system? Was divestment against South Africa’s regime of racism divisive? Is it divisive to divest from fossil fuels?

Even when it comes to divesting from corporations directly profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory, divestment campaigns are directed toward companies, not communities, and so can’t be divisive.

How does ending our investments in companies that violate human rights, in Palestine or anywhere else, harm anyone on campus? On the other hand, many Palestinian students at UCLA and on other campuses have expressed great discomfort with the fact that their tuition dollars are being funneled into companies that are harming their own families in Palestine.

It seems ill-advised for USAC to claim that divestment is harmful to students without offering any proof of its claims.

Finally, although the bill claims an interest in promoting dialogue among students from various organizations, this spirit is contradicted by the hypocritical behavior of its authors, who failed to make any effort to engage in the conversations they claim to be promoting.

If they are so concerned with fostering collaboration, why did they choose not to reach out to any pro-Palestinian groups or Palestinian students on campus to learn about what Palestinians and their supporters want? Shouldn’t a bill that claims to support community discussion actually engage the community it is speaking on behalf of?

We believe the reason for our exclusion is that if we had been included in writing such a bill, it would be dramatically different in content. It would call for the basic preconditions that must exist before any investment program can be successful – namely a lifting of the conditions of military control and unequal laws that deny Palestinians autonomy and equality.

As the World Bank noted in 2012, “Israeli restrictions on access to natural resources and markets” are among the major impediments to growth in the Palestinian private sector. Unfortunately, the authors of this bill focus on investments alone while turning a blind eye to the reasons that the Palestinian economy has been so crippled.

Instead of passing a bill that raises more questions than it provides answers to, USAC should engage in a serious investigation of the university’s investment policies that gives every student group an equal chance to be heard.

Kurwa is a graduate student in sociology and the vice president of Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA. Zahzah is a graduate student in comparative literature and the programming director of the organization.

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  • Arafat

    “As Zahi Khouri, the CEO of the Coca-Cola franchise in the West Bank and Gaza, told a congress of United Methodist delegates in 2012:
    “It may shock you, but whenever there is a viable project identified in
    Palestine, we can raise the funds … We don’t need your financial help,
    your charity. What we need is to be able to operate freely.”

    Then why do the Palestinians receive more aid per person than any other people in the world?

    Oh, I almost forgot, this is not about reality but is about Palestinian propaganda instead.

    • Arafat Wtf are you saying?

      I’m not so sure, and I highlyyyyy doubt that Palestinians receive more aid than any other people in the world. Yes, they receive a lot of humanitarian aid… but that’s because Israel has denied them of SOOOOOOOOOOOO much that they depend almost entirely on day to day aid. They’re living in complete poverty in what is considered the largest and most densely populated open air prison in the world. So, yes, they need that aid.

      The US provides Israel with aid, but it’s not humanitarian. Billions of American tax dollars funnel in to Israeli pockets to fund the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. To pay for the weapons and bombs that drop on Palestinian civilian hospitals, schools, and apartment blocks. They receive the most aid from the US, despite their standing as a first world country. Just imagine what $3 billion could do if we spent that money on countries fighting hunger. Imagine if we ACTUALLY put that money towards the underprivileged in our own country and helped our own citizens out of poverty. If we spent $3 bill on reforming education so every American has the opportunity to empower him or herself…. But no, there are more dire issues at hand… like sending money to Israel so it can “defend” itself. Now THAT is some propaganda bullsh*t.

      • Arafat

        The official media narrative is that these differences are
        the results of eons of oppression,

        checkpoints and blockades. Fair enough. But then why does
        the IMF put Israel’s

        GDP Per Capita well ahead of the oil rich kingdom of Saudi

        Saudi Arabia has no Israeli checkpoints, no Israeli soldiers
        or planes flying

        overhead. It has wealth literally pouring out of the ground
        with a fifth of the

        world’s petroleum reserves. And yet the IMF puts it 13
        places behind Israel and

        the World Bank puts it 8 places behind Israel. The only
        Muslim countries with a

        better GDP Per Capita rating than Israel are small
        monarchies drowning in oil.

        The non-oil Muslim countries who are closest to Israel are
        Malaysia and

        Lebanon, 32 and 33 places behind Israel. Both countries also
        have sizable

        non-Muslim populations. Muslims make up only 50 percent of
        Lebanon and only 60

        percent of Malaysia.

        38 places below Israel is Turkey, which until recently was a
        secular country

        and actually has a statistically significant atheist
        population. And that’s it.

        Below that we fall off a cliff into places like Belarus,
        South Africa and

        Grenada; all of whom still have better GDP Per Capita rates.
        No Muslim country

        without oil has a better GDP Per Capita than a Muslim
        country that has sizable

        Christian or Buddhist minorities.

        • Arafat wtf are you saying?

          1) Good job. You know how to copy and paste.

          2) How the hell does this relate to my comment?

  • Arafat

    “Do the authors of this bill know something that Khouri doesn’t?
    What gives them the authority to speak on behalf of Palestinians?”

    Gosh, silly them to think they could hold a dialogue. Don’t they know they’re dealing with a black & white people where it is their way or no way?

    • Silly You

      Dialoguing is consulting the Pro-Palestinian population AND the Pro-Israeli population and reaching a consensus on what is best for them. NOT having council members, especially those of which are 1) Israeli and 2) Sponsored by the ADL write a bill claiming they are representing the Palestinian people when, in reality, a positive investments bill is a window dressing for shutting down any chances of divesting. And divestment is ultimately what Pro-Palestinian groups want right now. So in reality, Arafat, silly of them to think they’re dialoguing when dialogue wasn’t even present whatsoever. It’s more than silly of them to present a bill that appears to be in the best interests of both groups when it’s actually silencing the Palestinian side and pushing real issues under the rug. We can’t just invest in so-called “positive” businesses that support both Palestinians and Israelis when there are STILL companies that benefit from the destruction and occupation of Palestinian land and peoples. We can’t just push that under the rug. These companies need to be held accountable for what they’re profiting from and the best and most peaceful way to do that is through economic pressures. BDS all the way.

      • Arafat

        that you support the Palestinians who openly advocate Jewish genocide (see
        their duly elected leaders clear-cut party covenants), you correspondingly do
        as well. It’s hard to believe in this day and age that anyone would openly
        advocate the liquidation of Jews, but you clearly do and it doesn’t seem to
        bother you a whit.

        it would be hard to believe that anyone would support second class status for
        women, the honor murder of teenage girls, the brutalization of gays and the
        suppression of dissenters. But you, as supporters of the Palestinians who
        regularly practice all of the above, are therefore complicit in these sexist,
        racist and fascist beliefs as well.

        Why are
        you so bigoted, misogynist, anti-gay and such hater of Jews? Please tell us
        pray tell.

        And if
        to be opposed to such garbage practiced by so many Muslims world-wide makes one
        an Islamophobe, count me and all who believe in freedom and hate sexism and
        bigotry vs Jews as a proud Islamophobe.

        • Silly Arafat

          I love how you paint all Pro-Palestinians as the extreme case scenarios. I never said I support Palestinian leaders who openly advocate for Jewish genocide. I don’t advocate the liquidation of Jews. I don’t think the women should be second class citizens. I don’t support honor killings. I don’t support the brutilization of gays. I’m not sexist, racist, nor fascist. I’m not bigoted, mysogynist, anti-gay, nor a hater of Jews.

          You’re committing one of the most sad fallacies of logic: ad hominems. You can’t attack my argument, so you throw out all these rash assumptions about my character.

          You don’t know me. How the f*ck could you assume I’m all these things?

          Supporting the Palestinian cause doesn’t mean I support what some extreme radicals believe. Supporting the Palestinian cause, in my eyes, is supporting the right for Palestinians to return to their homes and cities, to be integrated into society, to have a secular democracy that doesn’t prefer one religion or race over the other. It’s the chance for Palestinians to be reawarded their human rights that they are so grossly denied under the occupation. This CAN be done without all the ridiculous claims you are making. You take what some extremists think and paint the entire pro-Palestinian population that way. You’re really ignorant in so many ways.

          You are also very misinformed about Islam. Religion in general is very flawed in so many ways. It has positive effects and definitely negative effects. It’s been used as means for manipulation and violence has been inflicted in the name of many Gods. Religion is a human construct. Humans are inherently flawed. There is no such thing as a perfect religion. There is garbage found in a lot of religions, no doubt because it’s so open to interpretation. You choose to be spoonfed by the media to be brainwashed into thinking Islam is a violent, oppressive religion. That’s not always the case. There are sooo many amazing, pious muslims. You can’t paint every Muslim as a certain way. I don’t brand every Jew as a pro-Israeli, Arab ethnic cleanser. I realize that the Jewish religion actually does NOT advocate what Israel is doing to Palestinians. The issue at hand is not one of religion. It’s of nationality and claims to land. You sound like such an ignorant, intolerant idiot when you say “count me and all who believe in freedom and hate sexism and bigotry vs Jews as a proud Islamophobe.” That fact that youre proud is so troubling.

          While I want peace, coexistence, a secular government, the fundamental RIGHT to return to the land and homes you were gruesomely ripped out of… you choose to continue to pin people against one another, paint an entire religion as thinking the way that a minority of extremists believe, and totally slandering the other side. Where’s your humanity? Where’s your sense of equality? You, in fact, are the one that’s bigoted, racist, and doesn’t want any solution. Because with your radical, ignorant mentality, progressive change will never become a reality for Palestinians or Israelis. Keep living your life making fallacious assumptions about people. Whatever makes you sleep at night.

          • Arafat

            “Supporting the Palestinian cause doesn’t mean I support what some extreme radicals believe.”
            But, silly child, the Palestinian charter does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
            I am not talking about “some extreme radicals” I’m talking about the Palestinian’s founding charter.

          • Arafat

            Silly Boy writes, “You’re really ignorant in so many ways.”
            He writes this after accusing me of ad hominine attacks. Oh the irony!
            Our naïve waif actually believes the Palestinians have the right to return to their homes and to return to living in a civil, democratic fashion side-by-side with Jews.
            If only I had a bridge to sell and he had more than two nickels to rub together.

          • Arafat

            The silly boy then tries to educate me about religion and people and then unwittingly jumps to telling me all about Muslims instead of about Islam. He cannot follow a thought through to its conclusion. Of this I am certain.
            So, silly boy, concentrate very, very hard and read the following very, very slowly:
            I believe (this does not make it true) that Muslims are just people. People like you and me, i.e., some are smart and some are dumb. Some are kind and some are not. Some are thoughtful and some not. Etc……
            But the reason Muslims have a history (which carries over to today) of poverty, self-destruction, denial, violent aggression, misogyny (note the spelling), rape, incest, murder and mayhem is because of Islam.
            You see, oh silly one, religions really ARE different. Buddhism is not like Islam and Christianity is not like Hinduism. And all these religious constructs encourage and sometimes force people into certain molds – certain generalize types.
            Are you following me so far or is your mind doing flip-flops trying to digest this?
            So regular Joes – people like us – who are born Buddhists will in all PROBABILITY be socialized in certain ways.
            And regular Joes born into, say, Judaism will likely be socialized in certain ways too resulting in different regular Joes than regular Buddhist Joes. You following me here, Joe?
            So when regular Muslims are born, yes, they are no different than the Buddhist or Jewish or any other regular Joes, but from day one they are socialized differently. Unlike Jews, for instance, Muslim Joes are taught to not study other than to memorize the Quran. They are taught not to question like Jews are taught or to value education as Jews are. They are not taught to value all life as Buddhists are taught. Instead Muslim Joes are taught that Muslims are superior to all other lives and are even superior to Muslim women (let’s call them Josephines).
            So all there Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim regular Joes turn out differently because from the cradle to the grave they are surrounded by profoundly different input.
            In Islam Muslims are taught supremacy over infidels, lack of compassion and intolerance for infidels, that the worldwide caliphate is tantamount, that killing in the practice of Jihad is a sure path to Paradise. Stuff like that. If you do not believe me then read the Quran, Hadiths and Sunna and find out for yourself.
            Anyway, silly boy, this is a long-winded way of saying you’re above your head here and you should stick to your knitting – not this -whatever your knitting might be.
            Peace out.

          • Sad

            It’s hilarious how you try to rationally convince me why one religion is better than another when religion itself is so up in the air and uncertain.

            No single religion is the sole reason people are socialized in different ways. A LOTTT of complex factors go into socializing a person. You’re so radical in your belief that as long as somebody is socialized by Islam, they’ll turn out worse than someone socialized by another religion. You say Muslims are taught to be superior… and yet, you’re acting as thought Islam is inferior and Judaism as well as other religions are inferior. YOU’RE CONTRADICTING YOURSELF. I pray you never have children to socialize them with these radical beliefs.

            You take what extremist radicals believe (supremacy over infidels, lack of compassion, killing is the sure path to Paradise, etc) and paint all Muslims that way. I could point to a bunch of troublesome verses in any religious text because religion was constructed so long ago, when people didn’t have as much knowledge as they do now, in order to explain things that were unexplainable at the time. People feel dissonance when there is something they don’t understand so they constructed religion to provide them with answers. And it’s been a tool of manipulation to this day. Religion, though it can be used in a positive light, is uncertain. It all depends on the way a person chooses to interpret it and pick what negative aspects of it it would like to dismiss and which it would like to practice. I’m Catholic, but there are a LOT of things in the Bible I don’t necessarily agree with. That doesn’t make me any less of a Catholic. Same with Islam. There are things in the Quran, Hadiths, Sunna that a lot of Muslims don’t agree with, but they’re still able to live their lives piously and non violently. That’s not a concept you seem to grasp. You’re generalizing. You really look like a lunatic when you come onto comment threads trying to justify why one religion is inferior to another.

          • You May Say I’m a Dreamer…

            Questioning your lack of information isn’t attacking your character. It’s making a factual, logical statement of how misinformed, and therefore ignorant you are.

            Yes, peace, coexistence, a secular democratic society seems far fetched in the region at the moment. But how will positive change ever happen if it weren’t for idealists like me. What’s your idea of justice?

          • why are you ignorant

            You FAIL TO ACKNOWLEDGE that are are JEWS THAT SUPPORT PALESTINE. Yes, in fact there is an organization on campus just called that.

          • HA

            Believing that Israel doesn’t deserve the right to exist does NOT mean that they want every Israeli or every Jew dead. That belief questions the legitimacy of a religious state of Israel that so clearly preferences Jews over non-Jew (Muslim and Christian Palestinians, and African immigrants). Israel does not have any natural, inherent right to exist. Especially if there were already Arab inhabitants for thousands of years who lived there for generations and established lives in the region. People who have worked their whole lives building homes and managing businesses, only to watch that get ripped away and see everything they’ve ever worked for reduced to rubble… while they get caged in the largest open air prison separated by an apartheid wall and get treated like animals. Questioning or denying the legitimacy of the Israeli state and not believing in its right to exist does not directly imply death to all Jews. You see things in black in white. You’re dangerously radical and extremist yourself. You’re the reason this issue is so polarized. Coexistence under a secular democracy that grants the SAME rights and privileges to all its citizens, Jewish and Arab alike, is the most just solution. The right for Palestinians to RETURN to their homes that they were kicked out of is the only just way to deal with things. And if this means the demise of an Israeli state in order to construct a new, secular democracy that grants equal rights and privileges to all its inhabitants without oppressing or occupying the other, then that’s the best way to go.

            Of COURSE the Palestinian charter wouldn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. Because by doing so, that would mean that they accept being ripped out of their homes and accept having their land stolen from them. That doesn’t make them extreme radicals. I know, equality, democracy, and coexistence might be such a radical notion for your pea-sized brain to comprehend, but increasingly, more people are standing on the right side of history. These issues are being brought to light all over the nation and overwhelmingly (and I repeat – OVERWHELMINGLY) student groups all over campus are seeing this conflict for what it really is and seeing that it’s not as two sided as it is said to be. 165 nations supported the bid for Palestinian statehood while ONLY 9 opposed. It’s a land slide. You can bitchh all you want and spew out crazy, polarizing, fallacious statements about Islam and anybody who supports Palestine, but at the end of the day, you’re the one who is being viewed as the crazy extremist. You’re the one who doesn’t get any support… other than by extremists like yourself. I don’t even think students in BFI have as radical and hateful views as you. You take it to the extreme and that completely discredits your argument. You quiver at the sight of any article written that’s even slightly pro Palestine and you take to the comments with your radical views that nobody takes seriously. I feel sorry for you.

  • Arafat

    “Even when it comes to divesting from corporations directly profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory…”

    Earth to SJP…come in please.

    Israel captured the West Bank in the Six Day War and as victors in a defensive war (yes Israel was attacked and was forced to defend itself from bloodthirsty Islamists), anyway as I was saying: As victors in a defensive war Israel has the legal right, as established in the Geneva Conventions, to keep land they determine is vital for the defense of their people.

    In short, tough sh*t for losing a war you should have never started in the first place and then for exacerbating the situation by your ceaseless attacks against Israeli women and children. My heart goes out to you.


  • Arafat

    I think it’s time we boycott Palestinians and their corrupt, sadistic leaders.

    Why should we waste continued aid who we are told (told by these very authors) do not need our aid in the first place. Why should we waste continued aid on a leadership that for decade after decade steals the aid to invest in massive villas in Europe. Why should we waste our aid on a people, the Palestinian people, who will model their country on the Nazis?

    • Peace

      I think it’s time you stfu and stop trolling a college newspaper with your really outrageous, malicious, Islamophobic, and fallacious comments. But hey, that’s just me. 🙂

    • name

      After I read your post, all I got out was that you are ignorant. #sorry #butnotsorry

  • tripoli

    this is a great op-ed. i appreciate the daily bruin publishing such things and hope they will to continue to do so in the future.

  • creative tactics or bust

    time to bring back the campus shantytowns that were a key feature in UCLA’s struggle against South African Apartheid.

  • Sam Xie

    Considering that the palestinians in both gaza and the West Bank have Caterpillar dealerships, work, play , shop and invest in israel, its obvious that Americans have no clue what Palestinians really want. Positive investment sounds like a great way to go. Count me in

    • dont stifle voices

      Again, the people in favor of the bill are trying to speak for the Palestinians. Didn’t you hear those Palestinian voices, who feel stifled because everyone want to make decisions for them? And Investment, any time of investment, goes to Israel, which negatively affects Palestine and Palestinians.

  • IC

    While I agree that the dialogue with Palestinian groups on campus may have been lacking prior to the drafting of this resolution, this article fails to be constructive in that it demonstrates a great deal of bias, fallacy, and misinformation.

    First, the article repeatedly mentions Israeli “human rights violations” but fails to even once mention the barrage of Palestinian rockets, missiles, and suicide bombings that kill Israeli citizens on a regular basis.

    Second, the article states that “Palestinian businessmen directly contradict the idea that investment alone can solve the problems that come with occupation.” If you read the actual resolution, you will notice that it does not in any way claim that investment is the sole solution to solve all the problems with the conflict. The resolution only mentions that investment that helps both Israel and Palestine is one of the ways, along with diplomacy, respect, and cooperation, that peace can be achieved.

    Third, the article qoutes the CEO of Coca-Cola in Palestine as saying “We don’t need your financial help, your charity. What we need is to be able to operate freely.” Does this mean that Palestine should reject all foreign humanitarian and economic aid, if they indeed do not “need your financial help”? Also, is the mindset of the head of Coca-Cola, a large, multinational corporation, necessarily representative of every Palestinian business? What gives him the authority to speak on behalf of Palestinians?

    Next, the authors claim that “divestment campaigns are directed toward companies, not communities, and so can’t be divisive.” When such a campaign is directed solely at the companies of one state, however, it clearly marginalizes one group of people, causing division and conflict. Israeli students would be harmed by divestment because many of them retain close ties to their home country; a statement that UCLA will no longer allow any funds to go to companies associated with that country would make such students feel unsupported and unsafe on campus. The resolution also does provide several examples of how division over international issues and divestment can create a negative campus climate.

    Finally, the bill does allow each side to be heard on an equal footing. The resolution “urges Student Affairs and the UCLA Administration to specifically address intergroup dynamic awareness, acceptance of other people’s identities, and fostering of a culture that positively and proactively deals with conflict.”

    I believe that this resolution is an important step in resolving campus climate issues associated with this conflict, and that steps should be taken to be inclusive of all viewpoints and ideas moving forward. Investment in the well being of every individual living in the region is an important first step in ensuring peace and happiness for those on all sides of the issue.

  • Idontgetit

    Why are TWO graduate students trying to control what the UNDERGRADUATE Students Association Council does?

    • Freedom of Speech

      They’re still students on campus and this issue affects them directly. So regardless of whether they’re graduate students or not, they still have the right to free speech and to be able to voice their concerns both through outlets like the Daily Bruin (which distributes to the ENTIRE Bruin community, both graduate and undergraduate).

  • Resolution/I’m just a bill

    Waittt USAC is passing a bill??? I didn’t know they had the power to make laws.

  • salah addin

    great op-ed