Editorial: Support divestment

Editor’s note: A proposed ASUCD Senate Resolution supporting divestment was moving through commission meetings last week and was rejected by the Business & Finance Commission on May 7. The Editorial Board had split views on divestment. This editorial represents one of those views.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of students were engaged in discussions about whether or not ASUCD should urge the University of California to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

If it had been passed, the non-binding resolution would likely have been of little consequence to Israel, Palestine or the UC Regents, but the suggestion has brought up an important concern about the University irresponsibly investing student and state money in contentious and potentially unethical companies whose goals are incongruous with the University’s values.

The University of California should, we believe, divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza strip. As a public entity, the UC should divest from all companies whose political allegiances take a side in divisive issues on campus, or whose values or actions do not support free education for Californians. This includes investments in the coal industry, and until recently, included the tobacco industry, as well as investments in the war-torn Sudan. Divestment movements aren’t new to the UC system, as the UC continues to do business with entities that many students are opposed to.

One concern brought up at the commission meetings is that such a resolution is intimidating or unsupportive of Israeli, Jewish and Zionist students. ASUCD should take to ensure that such students feel welcome on this campus, and welcome to support Israel by their own means.

However, not supporting Israel financially is different from being unsupportive of Israel. Whether or not one supports doing business in the Gaza strip, the University of California has effectively chosen a side by investing student and state money in these companies. Divestment is not anti-Israel; it is neutral. But continued investment is as good as taking a pro-Israel stance in the name of students and their tuition dollars.

If the Regents are listening, which we doubt they are, a resolution from ASUCD in favor of divestment would be a symbolic nudge toward depoliticizing the UC’s financial agenda.

Whether or not it is ASUCD’s place to rule on divestment is a separate question. We do not believe that ASUCD officials have some insight or clarity that has been lacking in any academic or politician regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The ASUCD commission discussions were largely rotund and superficial, leaving students on both sides distracted and marginalized. Rather than fighting one another about international politics, students should band together and ask the UC Regents why a UC education comes with such a great sacrifice and compromise of politics and identity from our diverse student body.

2 Comments

  • Arafat
    May 10, 2013

    These activists are “stuck” on Israel. Neither logic,
    reasoning, or factual evidence will penetrate their mindsets, so determined are
    they to vilify Israel. Sarcasm though just might work—especially if there are
    any among them who still have the capability to feel shame.

    Usually when they are questioned as to why they avoid the much bigger problems
    evidenced by Israel’s neighbors, the answer is usually to say that they are
    concerned with all human rights abuses everywhere in the world, but their focus
    today just happens to be Israel. What they don’t say is that their focus is
    permanently stuck there—and their actions show that they have no interest in
    any other country, just Israel, Israel, Israel.

  • Arafat
    May 10, 2013

    We NEED to divest from Islamic countries if we really care about social justice and the ideals all leftists and liberals hold so dear.
    ……….
    Universal Human Rights

    With regard to human rights, the American founding fathers rightly believed that equality, free speech, and religious freedom, are universal and inalienable. Such rights are granted by God, not by government. Consequently they cannot be abridged or revoked by government. This view is rejected by Islamists.

    In defiance of the U.N.’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[22] Islamists recognize only those rights which are narrowly granted under Shariah law by the Quran and the Hadith (the traditional account of the life and sayings of Mohammed, written many years after his death.). This alternative view of human rights was clearly set forth in the 1990 Cairo Declaration, endorsed by all 57 member Organization of Islamic Cooperation.[23] In Shariah compliant cultures, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, inequalities between men and women, or Muslims and non-Muslims, are the rule rather than the exception. Women, Christians, Jews, polytheists and especially atheists are regarded as socially, legally, and even mentally inferior to Muslim men.[24]

    While Christianity and Judaism teach that all people should be treated with kindness and respect because they are created in God’s image (see Matthew 5:43-44, 1 John 4:20), the Quran forbids friendship with unbelievers (Quran 5:51)[25] and considers it unlawful even to give them charity (zakat).[26] Non-Muslims are forced to embrace Islam or be reduced to dhimmis – second-class citizens. Under Shariah law, dhimmitude is a form of subjugation, which limits the social, religious, legal, and economic rights of non-believers, and imposes a special tax burden on them as a penalty for rejecting Islam.

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