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February 10, 2021 4:46 pm

University of California Irvine Student Government Passes BDS Bill Condemning Israel as ‘Apartheid’ State While Denying Link to Judaism

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: FOA / Facebook.

The student government at University of California, Irvine passed a BDS bill on Tuesday night demanding divestment from several companies that do business with Israel.

The bill, which passed by 19 votes to three, rescinds previous legislation passed last year that had repealed another BDS resolution adopted in 2012.

Marshall Roe, a former student senator who took part in the campaign last year to repeal the original BDS resolution, told the Algemeiner that Tuesday’s vote was “a surprise.”

“I didn’t find out about the legislation until 1:30 pm on Monday, and thus the various Jewish orgs on campus were frantically trying to coordinate a response,” he said, adding that “professional leadership” by Hillel and the Israel on Campus Coalition representative resulted in “swift action on the matter.”

He claimed that the student government is currently dominated by a slate endorsed by the anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine, known for its abusive rhetoric and even acts of physical violence against Jewish students.

“As was to be expected, public comment was a bit wild with 65% being pro-divestment and at least half of those making comment being from outside the campus community,” he said.

The bill itself included claims that it is not antisemitic, alongside its strident criticism of the Jewish state.

“We’d like to note that this is in no way related to Judaism,” the bill says, claiming to respect “the distinction between the Israeli apartheid and Judaism” while simultaneously admitting that “Jewish history is intertwined with Israeli history.”

“We acknowledge the cultural and historical significance of Israel as a place of refuge against anti Semitism [sic] for the Jewish people, and this legislation does not take a political stance on the legitimacy of the nation,” the bill says, while at the same time repeatedly referring to Israel as an “apartheid state,” a phrase universally used by anti-Israel activists to delegitimize the Jewish state and call for its elimination.

The bill demands divestment from companies it deems complicit in Israel’s alleged malfeasances, saying, “The millions spent on apartheid should be redirected to students who do not have their basic needs addressed.”

A plethora of companies are listed: Lockheed Martin, United Tech, Boeing, G.E., HP, Caterpillar, Ford, Hyundai, Cemex, Raytheon, 3M, Northrop Grumman, Perrigo Company, Atlas Copco, and BlackRock.

Roe criticized the bill’s claims that it is not antisemitic, saying, “They were just trying to gussy this up, putting lipstick on a pig.” The bill’s dismissal of and attack on the previous year’s repeal bill, he added, showed that “They were willing to just cast off any sort of opinion that had previously come from the Jewish community; and they communicated with none of us in advance.”

The American Jewish Committee also slammed the bill’s language, “You can’t just SAY that the antisemitic thing that you’re doing isn’t antisemitic. That isn’t how this works.”

“@ASUCI passed a BDS bill last night claiming BDS is ‘in no way related to Judaism.’ 80% of American Jews disagree,” they said, posting the results of a poll on the issue.

“An appalling display of ignorance, @UCIrvine,” the AJC said.

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