The Associated Students of the University of California (at Berkeley) Senate
voted 11-9 to call upon UC Berkeley’s administration to divest $14 million from
companies that do business with the IDF, student newspaper The Daily Californian
reported on Thursday.
The Thursday morning vote on bill SB160 went on for
11 hours, according to Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman, the rabbi of the university’s
Jewish students “Should all be proud of the Jewish student
leadership at Cal,” because “there were more student senators who voted against
this bill than in previous years. The passage this year was closer than ever
before,” the rabbi wrote in a letter to his mailing list.
The bill does
not obligate the university to actually divest from companies such as
Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard.
The hall where the debate took place was
filled with hundreds of students and alumni, including Pulitzer Prize winner
Alice Walker, who came out in favor of a boycott of Israel, according to the
The bill’s author, Student Senator George Kafifa, said
the university was a “complicit third party” in the Jewish state’s “illegal
occupation and ensuing human rights abuses,” while the resolution’s co-sponsor
Sadia Saifuddin said it was “about asking ourselves before we go to sleep
whether our money is going toward the destruction of homes, toward the erection
of a wall. I am a working student. And I don’t want one cent of my money to go
toward fueling the occupation of my brothers and sisters.”
was postponed of a motion calling for “investment opportunities that strengthen
Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in pursuit of a two-state resolution,” the
newspaper reported, leading one student senator to note that “we will take home
that an amendment asking for a two-state solution was failed.”
newspaper also quoted Ron Hassner, a professor of political science, as saying
that “divestment does nothing to better the lives of Palestinians. It seeks to
undermine, harm and destroy and offers no vision of an Israeli- Palestinian
In his email to students, Naftalin- Kelman commented that “this
measure has no practical effect whatsoever. The UC administration has
consistently stated that this measure is dead on arrival and will not result in
divestment from companies doing business with Israel.
“We believe that
this vote represents only the narrow, individual opinions of the ASUC leadership
and is not reflective of the majority of the students they were elected to
represent,” he wrote, adding that the divestment bill’s genesis was not
on-campus and was “part of an international effort to sow discord on college
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