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April 10, 2019 5:48 pm

UC Santa Barbara to Consider Anti-Israel Divestment Proposal, Shared by Club That Praised Palestinian ‘Armed Resistance’

avatar by Shiri Moshe

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The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Henley Gate entrance. Photo: Ryosuke Yagi.

Student leaders at the University of California, Santa Barbara are expected to consider a proposal on Wednesday evening calling for divestment from companies over their ties to Israel.

draft of the measure, circulated by the UCSB chapter of the anti-Zionist group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), calls on the Associated Students Senate to direct campus leadership “to financially disassociate itself from companies that help commit human rights violations, by divesting from companies that participate in, or profit, from human rights violations in Israel/Palestine.”

The resolution — the sixth of its kind to be considered by the Associated Students Senate since 2013 — resembles divestment measures that were adopted by all other undergraduate UC campuses, including Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Cruz. None of these resolutions have been implemented by administrators, however, while all UC chancellors spoke out in December against academic boycotts targeting Israel — a key component of the Palestinian-led BDS campaign that divestment resolutions are generally seen to support.

A divestment measure most recently failed to pass at UCSB in May, following an extended senate hearing marked by an impasse and eventually a loss of quorum. Supporters of divestment shut down a subsequent senate meeting as an act of “civil disobedience.” A divestment campaign the previous year was launched on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and saw a mural by a Zionist group repeatedly vandalized.

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“As students in the University of California system, we take a firm stance against forced complicity in the oppression of Palestinians; more specifically, we oppose the involuntary financial contribution students make through tuition,” UCSB SJP wrote in statement on Thursday. “We advocate for the right of return, self-determination, freedom of movement, and justice and equality for all Palestinians.”

The anti-Zionist group — which last year expressed support for “armed resistance” and shared images of Palestinians armed with AK-47 assault rifles, pistols, and knives — maintained that the resolution “is in no way intended to alienate students on campus,” a frequent criticism leveled against divestment efforts.

In a letter on Wednesday, two opinion editors of the student-run Daily Nexus observed that “when the annual issue of divestment arises, there is a noticeable increase in microaggressions, expressions of hate speech and anti-Semitic sentiments.”

A day earlier, in a separate letter, student Sarah Mehrnia warned that divestment “promotes a dangerous pattern that divides our campus, stifles dialogue, and creates a hostile atmosphere at UCSB.”

Sharing Mehrnia’s comments on social media, Rabbi Evan Goodman, executive director of Santa Barbara Hillel, noted that “instead of preparing for next week’s Passover, we are preparing to fight yet another anti-Israel, anti-Semitic BDS resolution in the UCSB student Senate.”

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