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(Jeff Haynes / Agence France Presse)

Anti-divestment UCLA rep went on ADL Israel junket

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UCLA student government representative Sunny Singh (left), sits on an Israeli tank during an August 2013 ADL junket. (Anti-Defamation League)

On Wednesday morning, following nearly ten hours of impassioned public statements, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate student government voted 7 to 5 against a resolution to divest student tuition funds from a handful of US companies that profit from Israel’s brutal occupation in Palestine.

Though the ballot was secret to protect the safety of Undergraduate Students Association Council  (USAC) members concerned about threats from those who disagree with them, two straw polls taken earlier in the night reveal who voted which way. 

And much like the nation’s warped political system, it appears the Israel lobby helped influence at least one vote, that of USAC general representative Sunny Singh. 

ADL junket

Last summer, Singh was one of 15 university student leaders from across the country to travel on an all-expenses paid trip to Israel, courtesy of the anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

During his trip, Singh cited Israel’s vibrant gay community as proof of  “Israel’s commitment to respect and equality for all.” 

Perhaps he was unaware at the time of the Israel’s unequal treatment and daily human rights violations against Palestinians — whether they would identify as straight, cis, LGBT or none of the above — and non-Jewish African asylum seekers.

Surely these rampant abuses have been communicated to him since then, as anyone listening to the pleas for divestment from Palestine solidarity activists in the hours leading up to the vote can attest. 

But since returning from his junket, Singh has continued to regurgitate the hasbara — propaganda — that was fed to him. 

Israel, he wrote in August, is “unlike any other country as it’s nestled in a volatile region and surrounded by hostile forces.”

By October, Singh was crediting the Israel trip for inspiring his decision to sponsor a resolution that sought to sidestep campus divestment efforts with “positive investment” in companies operating in present-day Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Nakba denial

In an op-ed for The Daily Bruin, Singh characterized past divestment resolutions as attempts to “vilify or threaten significant portions of our community” by fostering “animosity” and “division.” 

The architect of the anti-divestment resolution, which ultimately failed, was USAC internal vice president Avi Oved, a former member and leader of Bruins for Israel, the premier anti-BDS and anti-Palestinian organization on campus.

Bruins for Israel promotes Nakba denial and claims Israel does not violate international law, among other blatant lies.

And, surprise, Oved voted against the divestment resolution as well. 

But let’s get back to Singh. 

Foot soldier

To show how proud they were of their newest foot soldier, the folks over at the ADL reposted Singh’s op-ed on their website. 

That same month, Singh helped the ADL raise over a million dollars by giving a glowing speech about wonderful Israel at the organization’s centennial gala. 

If Singh’s morally bankrupt opportunism continues, he’ll probably be winning major state or even national elections in no time. Because, as we all know, pro-Israel groups like the ADL have worked tirelessly to rig the system from top to bottom in their favor. 

Even so, after listening to the diverse and growing coalition of impassioned young people at UCLA demanding justice and equality for everyone in historic Palestine, without compromise, something tells me free vacations to apartheid Israel aren’t going to stand in their way.

Comments

Many NGOs, political & corporate groups send peoponents on free educational trips. No news here. Many proIsrael groups will be happy to discuss such trips with ur readers interested in educating themselves about conditions first hand.

Will your pro Israel groups be taking EI readers to witness for themselves daily incidents such as these;

"In 2013, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, most in circumstances that suggest the killings were unlawful. Israeli authorities destroyed homes and other property under discriminatory practices, forcibly displacing hundreds of Palestinian residents in West Bank areas under Israeli control. Israel imposed severe restrictions on Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement, continued to build unlawful settlements in occupied territory, and arbitrarily detained Palestinians, including children and peaceful protesters." (Human Rights watch)

and maybe for a Sunday afternoon stroll the EI readers can witness for themselves;

New York, December 2, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned by the reported targeting of journalists covering protests in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
"The Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association reported on Sunday that Israeli forces threw stun grenades and fired rubber-coated bullets at journalists covering clashes on November 29 between protesters and Israeli security forces at the Qalandiya crossing, which connects the northern West Bank and Jerusalem."

and then so the EI readers can really understand the dreadful conditions that Israelis have to put up with, you can take them to a talk by: "Rabbi Dov Lior rules that Jewish Law prohibits sterile couples from getting pregnant using non-Jewish man's sperm, because he says the child will have the "negative genetic traits that characterize non-Jews." On subject of single mothers he says, the "child cannot be 100% normal."

What's that you say, that isn't quite what you had in mind... oh well I'm afraid I for one only want to see reality not some sterile made in Hollywood propaganda film set.

Mr Goldmeier, you are a cynical hypocrite.

Students so easily bought by all expense paid travel may not appreciate experiencing oppression first hand, but the life-lesson would be priceless.

Good Dr., use some of that critical thinking inferred by your title. If an American senator about to vote on a bill about economic cooperation with Chile received a junket by a super pro-Chilean investment group, that would be grounds for investigation in the US. They paid thousands of dollars to show him a positive time in Israel, as well as I'm sure some great leisure and gifts on the side. Palestinians have no such resources to show their 'conditions first hand'. Parity? I think not? Reasonable? No.