Berkeley student Senate passes divestment resolution

By a narrow vote, the students voted to approach the administration about divesting from companies with IDF connections.

Berkeley University (370) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Berkeley University (370)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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 Hillel House.
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 Daily Californian.
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.”
Consideration 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.”
The campus 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 future.”
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 campuses.”