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April 11, 2013 5:51 pm

UC Santa Barbara, in Marathon Hearing, Becomes Latest School to Reject Israel Divestment

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The University of California, Santa Barbara emblem. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The student government at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) has rejected an Israel divestment resolution in the latest victory for pro-Israel students in the University of California (UC) system.

After a 14-hour hearing—most of which was devoted to the Israel divestment resolution—that lasted from Wednesday night until 8 a.m. Thursday, the resolution was narrowly defeated, 11-10-1, before the Associated Students of the University of California, Santa Barbara (ASUCSB). The debate lasted so long because ASUCSB opened up the discussion for public comment to every person who wished to speak, with each commenter getting five minutes of airtime, explained Max Samarov, a UCSB graduate and a research assistant for the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs.

The resolution, titled “A Resolution To Divest From Companies that Profit From Apartheid,” called for UCSB to divest its holdings in American companies that supply to the Israeli military.

“The most recent UC Annual Endowment Report shows University of California, Santa Barbara holding in Caterpillar, General Electric, Northrop Grumman, Hewlett Packard, and Raytheon, whose military technology is used by the Israeli Defense Forces to maintain Israel’s military occupation and siege of the Palestinian territories,” the resolution stated, according to the UCSB student newspaper The Bottom Line.

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Samarov told that the resolution’s language marginalized “if not every Jew on campus, a vast majority,” in addition to singling out and marginalizing Israel. Since the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement—which supporters and organizers of the resolution tied to the measure to—calls for the end of Jewish self-determination through its demand for the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, Samarov said ASUCSB would have been “contributing to a movement that calls for the violation of Jewish rights” by passing the measure.

“The argument against the bill was pretty multi-faceted, but essentially rested on the fact that there were a bunch of claims in the resolution that were either false, taken out of context, or disputed by independent experts, and so the effect of passing the resolution would be to declare Israel guilty of all these accusations despite all the conflicting evidence,” Samarov said.

The UCSB vote comes on the heels of last week’s vote to overturn a student government Israel divestment resolution at nearby University of California, Riverside, by a 10-2-1 margin. Student governments at UC Berkeley and Stanford University have also rejected Israel divestment resolutions.

Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said in a statement, “StandWithUs congratulates the pro-Israel students at UC Santa Barbara for their victory this morning over the BDS movement. UCSB student leaders worked tirelessly to defeat a divestment resolution that unfairly singled out and condemned Israel. Their courage and determination paid off.”

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  • Eve Rothfarb

    We must never accept a moral equivalency between those who commit ultimate evil and those who are forced to respond to it. There is only one humanitarian democratic country in the middle east. Thank you to the pro-Israel students who had the courage to make their voices heard.

  • My son told me that UCSB is mostly pro-Israel, yet the vote was very close. Explanation? Idiots get elected to student government? At least they allowed students to speak.