Israel advocates upset about the recent passage of a divestment resolution at the University of California at Riverside have launched an intimidation campaign against the student senators who voted in its favor.
Members of the UC Riverside student senate have been inundated with calls and emails by Israel-aligned individuals and members of on-campus Zionist student groups following the passage of the resolution, who are claiming that the senators “misrepresented” the student body and that the resolution has made the campus atmosphere “more divisive,” according to a student senator who spoke to The Electronic Intifada by phone on Tuesday evening.
Vote to overturn divestment scheduled
In turn, it was recently announced that the student government has agreed to vote on to rescind the divestment resolution tomorrow (Wednesday) evening. If the vote passes with a majority, the divestment resolution will be up for a new vote all over again.
On 6 March, UC Riverside’s Associated Students resolved to urge the University of California’s treasury and administration to pull its current investments in companies which profit from Israel’s occupation. A week later, a similar resolution was passed by the student government at UC San Diego (and, following that, on 25 March, another divestment resolution was passed by the undergraduate student union at York University in Toronto, Canada). In California, since the UC Board of Regents — which is connected to the state government — controls the investments of the University of California system, and the Regents have no plans at this point to change their investment policies, these resolutions are mostly symbolic.
But as more divestment resolutions pass, they become, as EI’s Ali Abunimah put it, “another indicator of growing support for divestment among students, which is why Zionist groups have vigorously opposed such resolutions whenever they have been proposed and have supported draconian measures to suppress student activism at the University of California and other campuses.” Zionist organizations even recruited two local members of Congress to write letters asking student senators to vote against the resolution at UC San Diego.
Ahlam Jadallah, a student senator at UC Riverside and a member of the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, whose members were some of the main authors of divestment resolution, told The Electronic Intifada on Tuesday that members of Zionist organizations on campus were employing “scare tactics” and making the senate “feel that they had made the wrong decision” by passing the resolution.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen [during Wednesday’s vote],” Jadallah said. “As of now, I’m still shocked and I really hope that the senators understand that these are scare tactics, and we made the right decision. We had nearly 40 student organizations who backed us up and stood by us at that meeting [when the resolution passed]. This is just a small group of students who are against it.”
She explained that she hopes her fellow student senators stay committed to the vote they passed last month.
“I really want to remind every senator to have courage to stand up for what they voted for and not to feel that they made the wrong decision. We never said this was going to be easy … Being a senator is not easy. When we took up this opportunity, we never said that this was going to come without criticism.”
As for the Zionists’ argument that this divestment resolution has made the campus climate “more divisive,” it’s important to note what a student at UC Riverside and member of SJP said during our interview on the EI weekly podcast on 8 March:
Being neutral is divestment. Because right now, we currently invest in only one side of this apparently two-sided conflict, in their eyes. And that the solution was either to begin investing in Palestinian companies, which is obviously not feasible, or to disinvest from both sides and stay completely out of it, by the choices of students — which it was.
The Electronic Intifada will watch the vote on Wednesday carefully and will publish a follow-up as soon as it concludes.