UC Berkeley Student: Israel Divestment Bill “a travesty of justice and an enemy of a positive campus climate.”

( Note: ASUC vote to take place Weds. April 14 at 7:00 PM)

Regents Should Not Support the Divestment Bill

By Brian Maissy
Special to the Daily Cal
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Editor’s Note: This piece was written as a letter to the UC Board of Regents.

As you are probably aware, bill 118, passed by the ASUC senate, vetoed by the ASUC president, and currently before the senate again for the veto to be overturned, calls upon you, the UC Regents, to divest UC funds from General Electric and United Technologies, which conduct business in Israel, including selling defense technology to the IDF.

Israel has a very clear need for military defense, and it has a right to that defense. Both General Electric and United Technologies are concerned with corporate responsibility, through a commitment to green, safety, and ethical standards. To divest from these corporation because they provide Israel with defense technology is immoral, and denies Israel the right to defend itself from attack.

I am one of the many students that attended the March 17 ASUC senate meeting at which the bill was considered by the senate.

I spoke out against the bill before the senate, and I would now like to express to you my concern about the bias and duplicity of this bill, and about its ulterior motive of slandering Israel.

Bill 118 raises complex issues relating to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but oversimplifies them by extracting a few incidents and labeling them as war crimes without careful consideration of their context.

For example, it brings up the issue of civilian infrastructure damaged in Gaza during operation Cast Lead. However, the bill fails to explain that this is because Hamas fighters hid behind human shields, both by storing weapons in and launching rockets from schools and homes, and by literally holding young children in front of them while they aimed sniper rifles.

The bill also failed to mention that this operation was a defensive one, taken by the IDF to stop the rockets falling on Israeli civilians from Gaza since 2001.

An expertly crafted attempt to bash the Jewish state before the ASUC and the UC Berkeley campus community, the ASUC senate bill asks not to “be interpreted as the taking of sides in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict,” but clearly takes sides, containing numerous condemnations of Israel, many of them unrelated to the alleged “war crimes” in question.

The bill also quotes the hotly contested Goldstone report, despite ongoing discussion about its bias and inaccuracy.

This bill is just as much an issue of campus politics as anything else. It is just another attempt by anti-Israel radicals to use the ASUC to disseminate their propaganda.

The bill “recognizes the inability of … the ASUC to adjudicate matters of international law and human rights law,” yet somehow still asks the ASUC to make such a decision on the behalf of the student body.

This type of bill is not only slander of Israel, but is extremely divisive to the campus community, and has no place in our senate.

As a student concerned with truth, I ask that the UC Board of Regents publicly and unequivocally condemn this bill, which is a travesty of justice and an enemy of a positive campus climate.



President Will Smelko


Senators email:



Senate Office Manager, at 510.642.1431 or diny@berkeley.edu.

2nd Floor Eshleman Hall #4500
Berkeley, CA 94720-4500
Office Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Secretariat: 510.642.1431 or secretariat@asuc.org


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