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By Laira Martin The Guardian, U C San Diego
Efforts stalled Wednesday to pass an A.S. Council resolution that called for the UC system to divest funds from non-neutral corporations currently providing technology to the Israeli Defense Forces. This is the second year the resolution, proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine, has been brought before council.
Last year’s version called for divestment from all companies that profit from human rights violations,, and did not explicitly mention Israel. TFI members claimed they were excluded from the drafting of last year’s resolution and felt alienated on campus, which led to contention with SJP. A.S. Council voted 13-10-4 to create a committee on the topic before moving forward, but the issue dropped after the committee failed to reach a consensus.
At the same time, the UC Berkeley A.S. Council passed a resolution 16-4 to divest funds from Israel, but the resolution was later vetoed by then-ASUC President Will Smelko.
Conflicts originally ensued after SJP announced its plan to present a resolution at the April 13 council meeting, but the respective organizations then planned to pursue a joint resolution for the 2011-12 academic year that reflected the beliefs of both sides. The orgs planned to announce this effort on April 27, but TFI withdrew support hours before the Wednesday council meeting.
Both SJP senior representative and Social Sciences Senator Rena Zuabi and TFI Executive Board member Michael Yadegaran described the collaboration as “risky.”
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster,” Yadegaran said. “Something like this [collaboration] on campus is unprecedented. Any cooperation between SJP and TFI [in the past] has been forced by A.S. and it’s only happened once and it was a complete failure.”
A.S. Council had planned to vote on the resolution at last night’s council meeting, but in light of the failed joint resolution, the issue has been tabled, with SJP stating its intention to move forward with the divestment efforts.
“Some TFI members said they have big big problems with the wording and the basic ideas that were put forth and agreed upon before,” Zuabi said. “We were told we can’t release this statement. TFI didn’t want to include ideas of neutrality in investments. SJP wanted to keep this basic [tenet] of the original resolution.”
TFI Vice President Daniel Friedman expressed disagreement with specific clauses of the joint resolution.
“TFI is firm in its stance that A.S. is not the place for a specific groups of different political views to [have dialogue],” TFI Vice President Daniel Friedman said. “Especially with divestment, which is bigger than just an Israel issue. The resolution had multiple identical clauses from last year’s [resolution]. Ultimately, we can’t support something that damages our university’s image and effectively punishes the Israeli defense forces for defending its citizens.”
The original draft of the resolution stated that UCSD is currently invested in the stocks of both General Electric and Northrop Grumman through the endowment and retirement funds. According to SJP, both companies are connected to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict because they supply the Israeli army with helicopter parts and weapons to use against the Palestinian civilians.
“The [original] resolution was only targeting Israel,” Friedman said. “It was an attempt to demonize the state and effectively collect punishment.”
Both Zuabi and TFI President Lior Abramson commented on the progress of the two organizations at the April 27 council meeting.
“I do think that this should be the beginning of a story of cooperation and not the end of a resolution,” Abramson said at the meeting.
Zuabi explained why there was not going to be a presentation anymore.“There was a draft statement created last night to express commitment to that effort based off of original agreements,” Zuabi said. “Members of TFI are uncomfortable and contested current ideas.”
The two organizations have put their collaborative efforts on hold and are pursuing alternative ways to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We both had good intentions with this,” Zuabi said. “I don’t think TFI is ready to work on this dialogue yet. [SJP] plans on moving forward with divestment next year.”