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May 21, 2014 3:19 pm

University of Washington Anti-Israel Divestment Resolution Defeated in Lopsided Vote

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Supporters of the failed anti-Israel resolution at the University of Washington protesting as students left the hall. Photo: The Mike Report.

Supporters of the failed anti-Israel resolution at the University of Washington protesting as students left the hall. Photo: The Mike Report.

An anti-Israel student senate resolution at the University of Washington that called for school administrators to divest from companies perceived “to directly maintain, support, or profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land” was defeated in a lopsided 59 to 8 vote, with 11 abstentions, late on Tuesday.

Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon on Wednesday flagged a report from the student senate by local blogger The Mike Report, which recounted the tense ambiance at the meeting.

Elder of Ziyon said the failed resolution was co-sponsored by Peter Brannan, a 31-year old senior, and Amira Mattar, an Arab of Palestinian descent. The main organization behind the resolution was SUPER-UW, which produced a 68-page booklet with letters of support from academics and other anti-Israel voices across the country.

According to the reports, the initiative was started on Passover to bypass objections of Jewish students who could be away or distracted because of the holiday. Seattle alternative newspapers wrote favorably about the resolution. “As usual, supporters of Israel had to organize quickly to counter a well-planned campaign of lies,” Elder of Ziyon said.

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The Mike Report described the students who spoke on behalf of the resolution:

“Those who wished to advocate for the resolution were told to gather in the right aisle, those in opposition to the left. For the next hour and a half the room was subject to a whiplash of perspectives. The pro students offered the usual BDS arguments, mired in stories of personal anguish ‘my grandfather can’t get his transfusions because of the wall,’ Matrix style stories ‘Arabs and Jews are assigned different bio-metric cards courtesy of HP and Motorola,’ and outright lies ‘The reliable website Mondoweiss reported today that the Israelis ripped out 15,000 dunams of Apple and Pear trees.’ One of the most far-fetched assertions of many was the description of huge Caterpillar Tractor war machines (’15 times bigger than a regular tractor’) armed with offensive missile batteries.”

The Mike Report also recounted views from the pro-Israel side, which was as numerous as the divestment resolution’s supporters.

One pro-Israel student said: “We all support human rights, justice, and fair treatment for all people. I support fair treatment of Palestinians. But this resolution is one-sided, it does nothing to bring the parties together for dialogue. It actually opposes dialogue. And though we’ve tried to talk to the other side, the other side has refused to talk with us.”

The Mike Report also included testimony from UW Sociology professor, Paul Burstein, who called out the resolution as anti-Semitic.

The Mike Report wrote: “He suggested the resolution framers were less than honest as to their goals, and that their true intention was the end of Israel as a Jewish majority state. Pointing out that the resolution demanded nothing tangible of the students or the university, he described it as just an easy way to manipulate the students to appear to support the sponsor’s twisted agenda.”

After the vote, The Mike Report said that 27 supporters of the failed resolution, “signs in hand, stood outside the auditorium exit in a semi-circle, forcing attendees to walk through their gauntlet as they stood in silent, mournful disapproval.”

Elder of Ziyon said, “This wasn’t just a defeat – this was a rout. This year was supposed to be the year of divestment. The BDSers planned to pass many resolutions at universities across the country, and they targeted the most liberal and sympathetic campuses they could. In nearly every case, they lost. The fact that it happened in one of the most leftist areas of the country, near where Rachel Corrie lived, speaks volumes on how BDS has lost steam in places it formerly appeared to be dominating.”
Read the failed resolution below.

WHEREAS, the state of Israel, in its ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands , violates International Law and Human Rights…

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: THAT, the ASUW requests the University of Washington to examine its financial assets to identify its investments in companies that provide equipment or services used to directly maintain, support, or profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, including a) the demolition of Palestinian homes and the development of illegal Israeli settlements; b) the building or maintenance of the Separation wall, outposts, and segregated roads and transportation systems on occupied Palestinian territory, and c) illegal use of weaponry and surveillance technology by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilian populations, and that those findings be shared with the ASUW…

THAT, the ASUW requests the University of Washington to instruct its investment managers to divest from those companies meeting such criteria within the bounds of their fiduciary duties until such companies cease the practices identified in this Resolution.

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