Students face a climate of intimidation on several California campuses(UC Berkeley SJP)
Just over a year since an Orange County jury, in a politically-motivated prosecution, convicted the “Irvine 11” students for disrupting a lecture by Israeli Ambassdor Michael Oren, the Associated Students of UC Irvine voted unanimously tonight to call for divestment from companies that profit from Israeli occupation.
The vote deals a major blow to intense efforts by Israel and allied organizations to suppress Palestinian solidarity activism on campus, particularly at UC Irvine, part of the University of California system.
The resolution, passed by 16-0 with no abstentions, calls on the University of California to divest from companies, including Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, General Electric, Sodastream, Raytheon and L-3 Communications, that assist or directly profit from Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.
In a press release, the campaign group Irvine Divest called the vote, “an historic move that could initiate a domino effect across America’s campuses.”
Sabreen Shalabi, the student representative on the legislative council for the school of social science and co-author of the legislation said, according to the press release, “I am very proud of my fellow council members and of the students at our University. Our work today stands tall in the noble tradition of students advocating for justice, joining the ranks of those brave and visionary students who demanded that our Universities divest from the terrible crimes of South African apartheid.”
A complete failure for Israel’s sabotage efforts
The UC Irvine vote will come as a sharp blow to Israeli organizations such as the Reut Institute, which celebrated the conviction of the Irvine 11 as a “price tag” victory in Israel’s campaign to “sabotage and attack” Palestine solidarity activism.
It is particularly embarrassing that just a week ago, Israel’s Ynet presented UC Irvine as a success story for Israel’s propaganda efforts in an article titled “Israel shines in California campus.”
The article claimed that there had been a “drastic change” in attitudes and that thanks to the efforts of the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles and other Zionist groups, “Pro-Israel activity flourishes in Irvine University merely two years” after what Ynet called the “attack” on Oren.
Israel and Zionist organizations have focused particular efforts on UC Irvine, including inviting the university’s president to Israel.
As The Electronic Intifada has reported, organized intimidation, bogus lawsuits and civil rights complaints and other forms of bullying of students who engage in Palestine solidarity work, have been used to try to shut down activism across California and the United States.
The unanimous support for the divestment resolution among the elected representatives of the student body will be seen, rightly, as a complete failure for these intense Israeli-sponsored hasbara – propaganda – efforts, and serve as confirmation that no amount of intimidation can prevent student bodies from following their consciences and pushing complicit university administrations toward action.
“The decision made by ASUCI’s legislative Council tonight clearly shows the strength and integrity of students utilizing their collective power to protect human rights on a global scale, Traci Ishigo, President of the Associated Student of UCI and a member of the UC Irvine Foundation, was quoted as saying by Irvine Divest, “I stand firmly by the students who believe it is their responsibility to have a voice on matters that urge the UC to be an institution that treasures human dignity.”