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March 26, 2014 9:20 pm

Israel Divestment Measure Vetoed by Loyola U. Student Government President

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The Loyola University logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Pedro Guerrero, president of the United Student Government Association (USGA) at Chicago’s Loyola University, on Wednesday vetoed a USGA resolution calling for divestment from Israel.

The resolution—which had passed 12-10 with nine abstentions on Tuesday night after four-and-a-half hours of debate—urges the Loyola University administration to withdraw investments from eight corporations “complicit in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.” In a prior USGA vote last week, the resolution had passed by a much larger margin of 26-0 with two abstentions.

In a letter on his decision to veto, Guerrero cited the undemocratic way in which the resolution was introduced, the harm the resolution caused to the Loyola University community, and the fact that divestment and socially responsible investment are two separate issues which the resolution conflated.

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“This legislation was framed in a manner that infers socially responsible divestment in a vacuum,” Guerrero wrote. “If we want to enact change, we must understand that our university will respond to a broad coalition of student concern, not an isolated one.”

Brett Cohen, a Loyola University alumnus and National Campus Program Director with StandWithUs, told last week that the divestment resolution, initiated by the anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine, had been introduced suddenly “using undemocratic tactics and no debate or opposition.”

“Students for Justice in Palestine introduced the bill without warning at the meeting, precisely to prevent debate. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement often relies on these unseemly political maneuvers to force through their agenda, which shows that they are afraid to debate this issue on its merits,” Cohen said.

Emily Briskman, director of the Israel Education Center of Chicago’s Jewish United Fund, noted that Loyola University is not invested in all eight companies listed in the divestment resolution, demonstrating “that the purpose of the resolution was not to promote human rights but simply to drag Israel’s name through the mud.”

According to the Jewish United Fund, Talia Sobol, one of the student presenters who spoke in opposition to the resolution Tuesday, said, “The point of this resolution is not to inspire a balanced, rational, or informative debate on the Israel/Palestine issue. No, the point is to frame this issue using the question, ‘Israel is guilty. How should we punish it?'”

Guerrero’s veto of the resolution can only be overturned by a two-thirds vote, which is “not likely to succeed,” Brett Cohen wrote in a blog post for The Times of Israel.

“The next step of this decision is now up to the Senate, who will be afforded the opportunity to override the veto at our final senate meeting,” Guerrero wrote. That meeting is scheduled for April 1.

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