Pro-Israel appeal to US patriotism fails to halt “historic” California divestment vote

The campaign for divestment from companies that assist and profit from Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights took a big step forward in California this weekend.

The board of the University of California Students Association (UCSA) passed two resolutions at its 8 February meeting in Los Angeles urging university governors to divest from companies including Boeing, Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard that make weapons and systems Israel uses to commit violations of Palestinian rights.

UCSA, which officially represents hundreds of thousands of students in the University of California (UC) system, passed both measures by a 9-1 majority with six abstentions.

One resolution notes that six of nine undergraduate student associations on UC campuses have already passed similar measures. It calls on UC Regents, the university’s overall governing body, “to respect and act upon the call of University of California students to divest.”

It also notes that the “student body of the University of California has a long and proud history of activism for social justice” using divestment as a tool in campaigns including South Africa, fossil fuels and the prison-industrial complex.


SJP West, a coalition of West Coast chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, welcomed the “historic” vote.

“Students for Justice in Palestine chapters and their many allies across the UC applaud and celebrate the UCSA’s decision to affirm student activism, endorse the divestment call, and carry it forth to the UC Regents,” SJP West said in a media release.

Opponents appeal to patriotism

The UCSA divestment victory came despite intense efforts by pro-Israel groups to campaign against it. Anti-Palestinian groups appear to be trying a new line of attack, appealing to US patriotism.

Israeli-government funded anti-Palestinian group StandWithUs tweeted that the divestment campaign was “an attack on #America and #Israel as well.”

UCLA student newspaper The Daily Bruin reported that several dozen protestors stormed out of the meeting “holding American and Israeli flags as well as signs that said ‘Divestment incites hate.’”
At a rally outside, student body president Avinoam Baral, whose scandal-plagued election campaign was financed by Islamophobic anti-Palestinian property tycoon and convicted tax evader Adam Milstein, declared that the divestment resolution was “anti-Semitic.”
Days before the vote, legal defense group Palestine Solidarity Legal Support wrote to UC administrators urging them “to honor the First Amendment rights of … students who support the divestment initiative and refrain from condemning their actions as uncivil or anti-Semitic.”

Struggle ahead

In an op-ed in The Daily Californian last week, Marium Navid and Rahim Kurwa reviewed the long campus-by-campus battle to reach this point, against stiff and determined opposition.

“Despite attempts to vilify Palestinians and their supporters or claims to support human rights and oppose the occupation, the loudest opponents of divestment could never produce a convincing argument for why the university should continue investing in, implicitly endorsing and actually profiting from companies that carry out Israel’s brutal, decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories,” the pair write.

In December, student workers at the University of California voted by a landslide to support the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

But Kurwa, a graduate student at UCLA, and Navid, a senator at UC Berkeley, say the next stage will be even more challenging: “Although years of hard work went into passing divestment at a majority of UC campuses, the next step is even harder – getting the UC regents to implement the democratically expressed will of the students.”

The UCSA vote, just days after the op-ed was published, will undoubtedly encourage many students to believe that goal is possible.




American students in an American tax payer funded university voted to divest from America. This really just goes to show how insane the whole BDS movement is!


That's exactly what white supremacists said in the 80s when Universities divested from racist South Africa. You're not fooling anyone.


I was in college at the height of the anti-Apartheid movement. No that is not what people said. The colleges where divestment resolutions were passing were colleges that had endowments. Moreover there was already a well established pattern of divestment that had existed for two decades.

There were no accusations of white supremacism in the battle during the 1980s there was no desire on the part of anti-Apartheid activists to create that kind of domestic hatred, at the same there was no one who actually supported Apartheid. There were people who believed in constructive engagement and thus who believed in isolations, sanctions and divestment. The battle was nothing like this one, the sides were nothing like this one, the situation was nothing like this one ...

Stop making up history.


J street and Z.B.T. have been telling their "Jewish" students to troll these sites and start trouble. They put up a fake Facebook page at Temple last summer, and I have seen the proof, that wealthy donors are putting these kids up to this behavior. I asked him (JeffB) to kindly stop. I am a Jew who opposes Zionism, as well as a two-state solution, because the territory was gained through murder. I am so happy about this victory, and used to seeing Palestinian kids ( I am 45, and a recent graduate, taking more classes ) with their heads hung low, and looking withdrawn or depressed. Nothing gave more pleasure today, than to read this and save the above picture. Looking at their smiles, that confidence and glow on their faces is AMAZING! They Shine Like Diamonds, Because They Still Rise! Thanks again Ali,
Jane Zacher
Philadelphia, Pa. Turtle Island (U.S.A.)


Explain how this means they're "divesting from America" (note--that claim doesn't even make sense). Not all of the students are American, and the university is not solely funded by American tax payers, either. Your comment reeks of ignorance.


Why would you think that EVERYTHING that America invests in is morally right? Are all American investments perfect? We need to ask ourselves & hold others accountable for being involved in every war, every conflict & the majority sales of arms in the Middle East. Yes America it's time to wake up.


I am very skeptical as to whether are not these divestment votes really represent the democratic will of the student body. As the Bruin article Mr. Abunimah cited notes, back when divestment was tried in 2010, it was decisively crushed. Divestment lost at Berkeley and UCLA first. It only passed after intense lobbying pressure against the Student Government boards and shifts in their composition. You must keep in mind 90 percent of the students at these schools couldn't care less about I/P. It's basically a fight between Jews and Arabs/Muslims/SJW's, and Jews are always outnumbered.

Do you really believe that BDS could survive a school-wide referendum at UCLA or UC Berkeley? BDS passed a graduate school union, but we ought to recall that less than 10 percent of eligible voters bothered to make their voices heard, and of those who did, 1/3 voted against. What are the chances it would have past if every member took part in the vote? Until we have data on this, it's just a competition between who has more followers: pro-Israel people, or anti-Israel people. And pro-Israel people are outnumbered, but have much greater financial resources and institutional control .

A second question to Mr. Abunimah: this divestment resolution is akin to a settlement boycott, in that it selectively targets international companies complicit in the occupation. If it's such hell pushing selective divestment through, how do you seriously expect to force the more comprehensive boycott that BDS ultimately wants (i.e. academic boycott, divestment from all Israeli companies, etc.)

I'd be interested in hearing a reply to the points I've raised if you can find time.


First, the BDS resolution in Berkeley passed 16-4 in 2010. It was vetoed after intense lobbying from the Israel lobby, not the other way round.

Second, BDS is far from being a clash between "Jews and Arabs/Muslims." There are plenty of Jewish BDS supporters, and if you ever attended a townhall event you must have noticed them. The debate, therefore, is between supporters of Israel's warcrimes (Zionists and other extremists) on the one hand, and people who oppose warcrimes (who include people of all faiths, ethnicities, and nationalities.)

Enjoy your free hasbara trip to Israel.


During Jim Crow the Klan wore white robes and hoods and burned crosses in the night to force their racist, supremacist and exclusionary views upon us.

Today they wrap themselves up in the American flag and desecrate the Torah to force their racist, supremacist and exclusionary views upon us.

We must be strong and determined in the face of their evil. Equality, human dignity and respect will prevail. Zionism like Apartheid and Jim Crow before it shall end.


Israel was White RACIST, APARTHEID, South Africa's ONLY ally, trading weapons, torture techniques, NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, with them. Today Israel continues Racist APARTHEID with it's wall. Israel enforces laws that are straight out of Nazi Germany such as Palestinians must have different colored ID cards and license plates, JUST like the yellow stars the Jews WAIL about having to wear. Palestinians have to use separate roads, IDENTICAL to Black OR Whites Only drinking faucets.
Israel and South Africa were virtually twinned as military allies for Pretoria helped supply Israel militarily in the immediacy of its 1973 setback and Israel came to support apartheid South Africa at the height of sanctions with weaponry and technology – from naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes to assistance in building six nuclear bombs and the creation of a thriving arms industry. Israel resembles apartheid South Africa at its zenith – even surpassing its brutality, house demolitions, removal of communities, targeted assassinations, massacres, imprisonment and torture of its opponents and the aggression against neighbouring states.
Israel just PRETENDS to care about African Americans (but look how Israel treats Blacks at home), so they can STEAL the taxdollars that SHOULD have been repairing schools and infrastructure and providing police protection in the Cities. Year after year BILLIONS of African American Tax dollars buy more APARTHEID-suppression for the NATIVE PEOPLE of PALESTINE instead of improving life for the Black American People who earned those dollars.


Dear UC Davis Community,

Last evening the ASUCD Senate passed a resolution urging the UC Board of Regents to divest from four corporations that, according to the resolution, “aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

This, however, does not reflect the position of UC Davis or the University of California system. The investment policy for the University of California system, including UC Davis, is set by the UC Board of Regents. The Board and Office of the President issued a statement regarding student resolutions that urge the Board to divest from companies doing business with Israel. The statement reiterates the Board’s position that this type of call to action will not be entertained.

We recognize that this is a sensitive topic for many on our campus, one that is very personal and emotional. It is for this reason that we must exercise sensitivity, restraint and respect in relation to the issue. Prior to the debate last night, those in attendance were reminded of our Principles of Community. We affirmed the right to freedom of expression, but also affirmed our commitment to the highest standards of civility and decency toward all.

A renowned international university, UC Davis manages academic and research programs across the globe and is home to a community of faculty, researchers and students from everywhere in the world. We believe that our shared goals of teaching, learning and serving the needs of society, in a climate of justice marked by respect for each other, will help us build a strong community of learning and fulfill our mission of educating the leaders of tomorrow and producing and disseminating knowledge.


Linda P.B. Katehi


Unfortunately your comments are true. "The investment policy set by the Board of Regents" etc. As one with understanding, knowledge, influence we recommend that you add justice to your investment and other policies.

It is a tragedy for you to be involved in the kinds of activities for which you advocate simply because it IS. People are dying. Their homes are being destroyed.
They are being starved...

And yet the Board of Regents SEES NO EVIL AND HEARS NO EVIL.

One can only pity those such as yourself should you persist in hiding behind the
status quo. Was the lynching of blacks in the US acceptable because at the
time it was not considered "illegal"? It was a STATE concern was the answer agt that

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA


Perhaps the UC Board of Regents should be schooled by the Stanford faculty who issued a letter calling for divestment stating: “We believe it behooves us as educators to not only train our students to be world citizens and world leaders, but also to model ourselves actions that embody the best aspects of world citizenship, beginning with upholding international law and opposing those who do not.” The letter also states: "We reject the notion that divestment unfairly singles out one country for condemnation. The enormous amount of US aid to Israel (at least $3 billion annually, more than any other country in the world receives) already makes us in the United States complicit with Israel’s actions. We equally reject the claim that divestment is a form of anti-Semitism or in any way directed against Jewish students on campus. Divestment is directed against the policies of the state of Israel..."


Thanks, Froy. That is unfortunate, but many battles are lost on the way to winning the war. It seems the tide has turned and cannot be reversed.


There is an irony apparent in the number of comments appearing at this site of late, on behalf of Israel. For years the Electronic Intifada was regarded by Zionist apologists as unworthy of their attention. A policy approximating that of a boycott prevailed in those circles. But something seems to have changed. The success of Ali Abunimah and his colleagues in raising the level of critical discourse on behalf of Palestine has galvanised pro-Israel groups and individuals, resulting in a sudden host of uncharacteristically well-mannered statements appearing here in defense of the indefensible. Demolishing their arguments in a direct exchange of views has become a welcome new feature of this site.


My heartfelt congratulations to everyone for a significant accomplishment.
torn hall, thanks for the perspective--well stated.


You are observant, constructive. I, too, have noticed that. It's because the zionists know the table has turned on them and their indecency has caught up with them. The civilized world is getting more and more united. Israel is the root cause of what is called the rise of anti-semitism in the world. It's not about Jews. It is about Israel. That is what is reflected in these DBS votes on campuses all across the USA. I like these young people. They have courage and they have moral authority.


My reply to JeffB, was not approved and I am ok with decision, but there is a serious trolling issue now, that this publication has gained strength and attention. I just ignore them, because it takes away from the real issue - Palestinian Rights. I am so happy for this victory, and nothing will take that away. Thanks again Ali for this publication.
Jane Zacher


As a relative new comer to EI and blogging in general, it is interesting to consider your upshot to the opponents of Palestinian rights posting here. I don't spend my time trolling on National Review sites or take the time to chime in on dyed in the wool sites that support the Democrat Party. So I sometimes wonder about people's psychological make up who take the time to barge into someone else's community space.


This is an impressive victory won through the hard work of organization and persuasion.


We are seeing opinion being led once again by the educated youth in America. I was part of the civil rights era in America and it was then as now the youth who knew the right thing to do and who saw to it that the right thing was done. Israel's behavior is what is responsible for the rise in anti-Semitism. Israel has created these problems with its savage genocide against Palestinians. I have nothing but praise for the youth in America for standing up for the civil rights of Palestine with BDS. BDS will bring Israel either to its senses or to its demise as a nation. It is up to Israel to react positively to the changing times which are so against zionism and its barbarity or to accept their defeat at the hands of the nonviolence of BDS and civil shunning across the world.


It's interesting that Dr. Katehi is apparently blind to the contradictions in her statement: "...regarding student resolutions that urge the Board to divest from companies doing business with Israel...the Board’s position that this type of call to action will not be entertained.... We believe that our shared goals of teaching, learning and serving the needs of society, in a climate of justice marked by respect for each other..." In fact, doing business with the apartheid entity of Israel demonstrates contempt for justice and contempt for the other. The institution's "goals" and perceptions of the "needs of society" are clearly not "shared" as students, and perhaps others in their community, are indicating by their protests. Individuals and institutions led by people of conscience worldwide have responded to the call to divest from companies that invest in a genocidal, racist entity--one that has demonstrated contempt for international law. Those who are complicit in crimes against humanity, either through silence, words or deeds, will find that they are increasingly marginalized by a world repelled by their hypocrisy and their values. The UC mission, she states, is "...educating the leaders of tomorrow and producing and disseminating knowledge." I would suggest that merely producing leaders and generating knowledge is useless to the world unless both are grounded in fundamental moral precepts. Unfortunately, that is not the position represented in the statement.


As Salaam Alaikum ! After all the distortions, campaign of misinformation , deceitful arguments, racist hostility and fear mongering , the PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN !!

Justice for Palestine !
Peace and prosperity !

A small step ? Maybe, but a continuation on the oath yo justice !