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University of California Students Vote to Divest…From America


"[A] resolution which made the … U. Cal student government look like fools."

University of California, Berkeley (Photo: 360b/

The University of California Student Association passed a resolution Sunday calling for the state university system to divest from the U.S. government.

BERKELEY, CA - MAY 22: Pedestrians walk by an entrance to the UC Berkeley campus on May 22, 2014 in Berkeley, California. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities by China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Stanford University ranked second behind Harvard University as the top universities in the world. UC Berkeley ranked third. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The resolution was one of two that passed Sunday; the other, authored by pro-Palestinian students, called for the university to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

The U.S. resolution also called for the UC system to withdraw investments from other countries including Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and Sri Lanka because they engage “in the violation of human rights” and “have violated the universal right ‘to life, liberty and security of person;’ ‘to education;’ to ‘privacy, family [and] home;’ ‘to own property, and … [not to] be arbitrarily deprived of property.”

In this clause, the students attending the state-sponsored university blasted the U.S. for violating the right "to education."

The resolution pointed specifically to U.S. military drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen which it asserted have “killed over 2,400 people … many of them civilians.” It also lambasted the U.S. government for overseeing the “highest rate of imprisonment in the world” in which law enforcement “disproportionately” target minorities, calling the system the “Prison Industrial Complex.” It criticized the detention and deportation of “undocumented immigrants” and the government's sale of weapons overseas. The resolution also attacked the University of California for accepting funding from the Defense Department to conduct research projects.

Pro-Palestinian activists posted words of praise online in response to the anti-Israel resolution in particular, while others pointed to the irony of a publicly funded university’s student association calling to divest from the government.

“I suggest the U.S. government divest from the UC system,” wrote one Facebook user.

Another wrote, “I don't get it. A university in California is divesting from America?”

William Jacobson of the conservative pro-Israel blog Legal Insurrection wrote of the resolutions: “The U. Cal. student government has proven a point I’ve made repeatedly in terms of the academic boycott: If you are going to boycott Israel, then you need to apply those standards to the whole world, which will result in boycotting yourselves.”

“I’m not glad that the Israel divestment passed, but at least it passed combined with a resolution which made the anti-Israel students and U. Cal student government look like fools,” Jacobson added.

The UC system has recently passed several Israel divestment resolutions. Jacobson noted that similar resolutions on campuses nationwide are not proposed by a “grassroots, student-led movement,” but rather “it has a highly coordinated, well-funded action plan assisted and coordinated by outside groups.”

That assertion was bolstered by a column by UCLA student Tammy Rubin who wrote in the Daily Bruin last week that the anti-Israel resolution was authored by members of Students for Justice in Palestine “across the country” and called on UCLA student leaders to disclose their institutional affiliations. She offered examples of other national external groups helping promote campus divestment resolutions.

The student association resolution targeting the U.S. included a clause calling on the university “to dissociate itself from governments and companies that engage or aid in systematic prejudiced oppression, whether this system targets people based on their religion, nationality, gender, race, or orientation, by divesting from governments and companies that participate in or profit from human rights violations.”

Jacobson pointed out that if this standard on institutional discrimination were applied without prejudice, it would target the Palestinians and “also require divestment from almost every Muslim-dominated country in the Middle East, w[h]ere discrimination against Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities is rampant and institutionalized.”

“If you consider the Palestinian Authority (in the West Bank) and Hamas (in Gaza) a ‘government,’ regardless of whether it is a ‘state,’ then the resolution forbids investment or any form of association with those groups, who practice gross discrimination, including against gays,” Jacobson noted.

The pro-Palestinian campus activists did not target the Palestinian leadership for sanctions.

(H/T: Legal Insurrection)

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