Petition Launched Calling for UC Divestment From Israel in Response to Police Brutality

June 4, 2020
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A petition was launched on June 1 calling for the University of California (UC) to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel, to combat police brutality.

The Algemeiner reported the petition, which included endorsements from various UC Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and College Democrats chapters as well as individual students and faculty members at UC schools, calls for the UC to end contracts with all university police. The petition states that until the UC does so, it is “complicit in racism.” The petition then goes onto call for divestment from Israel.

“We also call on the UC to divest from companies that profit off of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine, investments that uphold a system of anti-Black racism in the US,” the petition states. “We know the Minneapolis police were also trained by Israeli counter-terrorism officers. The knee-to-neck choke-hold that [Derek] Chauvin used to murder George Floyd has been used and perfected to torture Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces through 72 years of ethnic cleansing and dispossession.”

It added that “police departments view Israeli Defense Force tactics as models for responding to ‘public health and safety crises.’ ”

Jewish groups condemned the call for divestment in the petition.

“It is outrageous, but sadly unsurprising, to see anti-Israel extremists shamelessly exploiting the horrific killing of George Floyd for their own political gain,” StandWithUs CEO and co-founder Roz Rothstein said in a statement to the Journal. “Abusing the pain of other communities in order to spread lies and hate is their M.O. As we mourn George Floyd and call for justice, we must also prevent any effort to use this moment to promote anti-Semitism and divide people who should be standing together.”

Liora Rez, director of watchdog Stop Anti-Semitism, said in a statement to the Journal, “The four officers involved in the horrific murder of George Floyd never participated in an Israeli Police training program, nor did anyone from their department. From veganism to the LGBTQ movement to now George Floyd, we are seeing the anti-Semites at BDS [boycott, divestments and sanction] lie and hijack yet another social justice movement in order to spread their Jew hatred.”

Associate dean and director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Algemeiner that the BDS movement seems to be attempting to link the May 25 death of Floyd while in in Minneapolis police custody to Israel.

“If they [BDS] succeed in embedding that image then the rest follows: banning cooperation between police departments and Israelis, and the full menu of the BDSers, and the further demonization of Israel and her Zionist supporters,” Cooper said. “Not only must the Jewish community protest this big lie, we look to African-American leaders who have to deal with racism every day to denounce this phony screed.”

The UC did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment.

In December 2018, 10 UC chancellors signed onto a statement condemning academic boycotts of Israel.

“Our commitment to continued engagement and partnership with Israeli, as well as Palestinian colleagues, colleges and universities is unwavering,” the statement read. “We believe a boycott of this sort poses a direct and serious threat to the academic freedom of our students and faculty, as well as the unfettered exchange of ideas and perspectives on our campuses, including debate and discourse on the Middle East.”

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