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UCI Student Senate Passes BDS Resolution

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February 11, 2021
Photo by Allyunion/Wikimedia Commons

The UC Irvine student senate passed a resolution on February 9 calling on the university to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the resolution passed by a 19-3 margin. The resolution does acknowledge and condemn rising anti-Semitism, but it claims that there’s a difference between denouncing “Israeli apartheid” and Jewish history in the country. The resolution also accuses Israel of terrorizing Palestinians and alleged that the Likud Party spied on Arab voters in 2019 as a means of suppression.

Jewish groups condemned the resolution’s passage. “You can’t just SAY that the antisemitic thing that you’re doing isn’t antisemitic. That isn’t how this works,” the American Jewish Committee tweeted. “@ASUCI passed a BDS bill last night claiming BDS is ‘in no way related to Judaism.’ 80% of American Jews disagree. An appalling display of ignorance, @UCIrvine.”

StandWithUs co-founder and CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement, “We are proud of the students who stood up to this campaign of hate. It is shameful that the Senate passed a resolution with such hateful and misleading language. This does nothing to help Israelis or Palestinians, and will only deepen divisions and hostility against Jewish students on campus.”

AMCHA Initiative Director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin also said in a statement to the Journal, “While BDS resolutions carry zero weight, members of anti-Zionist student groups like SJP seize these student government opportunities to spew anti-Zionism on campus and marginalize and silence all pro-Israel voices, largely Jewish students who are repeatedly the casualties, long after the resolutions are over. It’s important to note that this resolution stresses it is all about Israel and ‘no way related to Judaism.’ This trend of decoupling Judaism from Zionism and undermining the global acceptance of anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism is extremely dangerous and one that we’ve seen really pick up over the past two years. The goal is to mask anti-Zionism as political speech. However, we all know that you can’t uncouple the two, and once resolutions are introduced or professors spew anti-Zionism, swastikas appear, assaults happen, and Jewish students are targeted, alienated and ostracized.”

Jack Saltzberg, president and founder of The Israel Group, similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “Of course this divestment from Israel is related to Judaism! When UC Irvine (and all other schools) begins to divest from human rights-violating countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Sudan, et al. — and not only against the single Jewish country in the world — then we’ll consider that ‘no way is it related to Judaism.’”

Johannah Sohn, executive director of The Hillel Foundation Orange County, said in a statement to the Journal that they were “disheartened” about the BDS resolution’s passage. “Many of the clauses in the statement are factually misleading, deliberately taken out of context and reduce important historical and political debates to binaries,” she said. “We were further dismayed that participants used antisemitic tropes and canards in discussing the world’s only Jewish state and the Jewish people. [Orange County] Hillel is committed to developing programs that share a broader understanding of Israel’s history, culture and people and engaging the UCI campus community in constructive dialogue.”

Jewish Twitter users also denounced the resolution’s passage.

“As an Israeli, I can tell you that BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] votes on college campuses have no effect on me,” Israel-based writer Hen Mazzig tweeted. “BDS does effect Jewish students, who are always accused of dual loyalty, policed for their connection to the holiest sites in their culture, and separated into ‘good’ & ‘bad’ Jews.”

Blake Flayton, an avowed progressive Zionist student at George Washington University, similarly tweeted that BDS resolutions often have nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinain conflict. “What’s important is screaming at the top of your lungs that Israel is an apartheid state killing Palestinian children and corrupting institutions all over the world. Proponents employ the antisemite’s triangle: blood, money, and conspiracy.”

He added that Israel is constantly singled out and scapegoated for the world’s ills on college campuses. “Jewish college students can no longer be afraid to call this virus what it is. It’s not normal to be attacked, by so-called liberal people, for your culture and identity. It’s not normal to feel ashamed of your people. Stand up for yourself. Because nobody else will.”

Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation president, also tweeted, “The problem is not in *passing* such resolutions; they cause irreparable damage even when defeated, poisoning gullible students with fabricated anti-Israel accusations. The question is why we do not hear of counter-resolutions, exposing the racist character of the fabricators.”

 

Sheri Ledbetter, UC Irvine’s communications officer, said in a statement to the Journal, “As one of the world’s top research universities, UCI encourages the lively exchange of ideas from diverse voices, cultures and backgrounds. The resolution passed last night by an independent student government group, which cites the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and calls for the elimination of certain investments, has no impact on UCI’s operations, does not reflect the university’s views, and is not aligned with the investment policies of the University of California.”

While the resolution was being debated on Zoom, there were messages in the chat accusing Israelis of ethnic cleansing, creating an ethnostate and painting “the swastikas on yourselves to play the victim,” according to a screenshot sent to the Journal.

Courtesy Hen Mazzig
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