Divestment passes at UCR again but the biggest takeaway is what it took to get there

The student senate at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) voted in favor of a resolution urging the university to divest from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation by a final tally of 8-7-0.

The resolution was introduced by UCR’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the evening’s success followed many months of preparation. A divestment resolution had been presented to the student senate earlier in the year. And even before that, in the previous school year, UCR’s SJP managed to successfully pass a divestment resolution before witnessing outside groups pressure the student government into rescinding the clear victory.

UCR’s divestment hearing was one of three simultaneously taking place on Wednesday. The other two were held at San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara where, at both institutions, student groups also presented similar divestment resolutions urging the administration to withdraw investments from groups that verifiably profit from occupation and human rights abuses.

While we celebrate this victory, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on what this year’s “divestapalooza” means — not just in terms of the future for Palestine awareness but also in terms of what it says about the student movement in the United States and its ability to mobilize efficiently, effectively, and passionately. [Read more...]

Second vote sees success for divestment campaign at Loyola University Chicago

Last updated 2:21 AM CST, Mar. 27

UPDATE: Student government president Pedro Guerrero has vetoed the resolution. Read about our coverage and Loyola SJP’s statement.

Loyola University Chicago’s student senate has passed a divestment resolution for the second time Tuesday evening.

Twelve senators voted in favor of the divestment bill, ten voted against, and nine abstained.

One week ago, campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) introduced a bill that urged the university to divest from corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. (Read our coverage here.)

The resolution initially passed on Mar. 18 with 26 student government senators voting in favor of the bill, zero voting against, and two choosing to abstain.

However, students opposed to the divestment measure pressured the student government into reconsidering the senate’s decision on the bill. A hearing, to be followed by a revote, was promptly scheduled for the following Tuesday, Mar. 25.

The second vote was preceded by almost five hours of discussion and debate. Campus police were stationed at all possible entrances into the discussion room and attendees were requested to turn off their WiFi connections and to shut down their electronics, including phones and laptops.

The tense atmosphere culminated with the final vote shortly before 9 p.m. The results of the revote mark the second time SJP’s proposed bill has been passed by the student senate.

The divestment bill must be passed by another branch of the student government before it can be put into effect.

This article will be updated as more information is made available.

Divestment passes at Loyola University Chicago

Last updated 9:13 PM CST, Mar. 25

Loyola University Chicago’s student senate passed a resolution Tuesday evening to divest from corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation.

The resolution, introduced by Loyola’s Students for Justice in Palestine, passed by a landslide vote, with 26 student senators voting in favor, none voting against, and two choosing to abstain.

However, following pressure from select students, the resolution was faced with a revote the following week, which it also passed. (Read the full account here.)

The resolution urges the university administration to withdraw investments from eight corporations complicit in Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, including Caterpillar, SodaStream, Veolia, and Hewlett-Packard.

The divestment resolution itself faced no opposition, according to students and community members present at the hearing. The only major hurdle faced by student organizers was a proposed amendment to edit the formatting and visual layout of the resolution. The content was not changed.

This evening’s turn of events makes Loyola University Chicago the first Catholic university and the first university from the state of Illinois to pass divestment.

Loyola’s divestment success is one of three divestment hearings that occurred simultaneously across the nation.

At the University of Michigan, the Central Student Government voted to “table, indefinitely” a divestment bill presented by student representatives of campus group Students Allied for Freedom and Equality. Over one hundred students and supporters in attendance began to chant in protest of the student government’s decision.

In Phoenix, AZ, Students for Justice in Palestine at the Arizona State University also introduced a divestment bill for a first-read. It, too, was tabled indefinitely, but student organizers intend to present the resolution for a vote on April 1.

It is worth noting that no resolutions were rejected this evening.

This article will be updated as more information is made available.

Columbia U swiftly pulls plug on freedom of speech in response to pro-Palestine activism

Want to know something frighteningly messed up? When students of color raise concerns over hostile and xenophobic campus atmospheres, when victims of sexual assault question their university’s lackadaisical response, and when statisticians reveal that schools aren’t graduating nearly as many Black students as they admit, a university administrator might throw out a line or two to satisfy reporters before burying the issue.

But then comes along a banner that can singlehandedly mobilize an entire university administration to find time to meet, reexamine longstanding school policies, and individually respond to complaints.

Welcome to the American college system, where requests for clean bathrooms, longer library hours, and more affordable textbook pricing are met with silence, and where you will receive a prompt and personal email reply from a university President if you complain about, say, a sign that says “Stand for Justice, Stand for Palestine”.

Which, of course, is what happened at Columbia University’s Barnard College on Tuesday. [Read more...]

Successful walkout on Israeli war propaganda event at UW-Milwaukee

Students and community members at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee staged a successful walkout yesterday during a talk by author Ron Leshem whose work promotes anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim sentiment.

Leshem, an Israeli author and media producer who assisted with the development of controversial show Homeland, was invited to speak about his experience in the television industry. The event was held at the university’s Golda Meir Library and was sponsored by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and hosted by Hillel Milwaukee. Leshem’s work, which includes the film Beaufort, aims largely to draw sympathy to Israeli occupation soldiers.

According to multiple sources, officers with the Milwaukee Police Department were dispatched to the event in anticipation of the walkout.

Leshem’s talk centered on his vision of using film and media to depict the Israeli experience to large audiences.

When Leshem showed a video clip of Beaufort, which mainly consisted of an Israeli showing his scars, thirty audience members stood up, removed their jackets, and exposed signs that were taped to their shirts. The signs read “Occupation is not Education” and “Boycott Israel”.

Among the demonstrators were members of Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at both the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Marquette University, as well as members of Friends of Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Coalition. Local alumni and community supporters also participated in the action, including an Air Force veteran.

When the protesters stated their opposition to the occupation and the way Leshem was capitalizing on the suffering of Palestinians and Lebanese, audience members who remained seated began to jeer them and verbally insult them in English, Hebrew, and Spanish, according to a source at the scene.

Chilean football club counters jersey ban with more prominent map of historic Palestine

The Chilean football federation recently banned a top tier team from using a jersey that featured the map of historic Palestine in exchange for the number one. But the team has struck back with an updated kit design that prominently features the map on the front and center of the jersey.

Club Deportivo Palestino, one of Chile’s oldest club teams, unveiled new kits in December. After playing just three matches, complaints from pro-Israel communities pressured the National Association of Professional Football of Chile to ban the club’s jerseys and fine CD Palestino an equivalent of $1,300.

But the Santiago-based team, founded by Palestinian immigrants in 1920, has chosen not to shy away from the club’s heritage. Despite loose allegations that the team was mixing the sport “with politics and religion,” the team unveiled a new jersey design that moved the map to the front of the shirt. Miniature maps of Palestine are also inset into the bottom of the numbers on the back of the jersey, right above Bank of Palestine’s sponsor spot. [Read more...]

Scarlett Johansson and Oxfam part ways in what can only be seen as another BDS win

Update: Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s resignation, recognizing her role with SodaStream is “incompatible” with her role with Oxfam.

In a rather odd twist, Scarlett Johansson has reportedly ended her relationship with a humanitarian group to side with a company that operates out of an illegal Israeli settlement and exploits Palestinian labor and resources. Although the 29-year-old actress coolly credits this to “a fundamental difference of opinion,” we are left to read between the lines and appreciate the critical attention this has earned companies that profit on Israel’s occupation.

Eight years ago, Johansson signed on to become a global ambassador for Oxfam International, an aid and advocacy agency established to combat poverty and injustice. But she and Oxfam parted ways shortly after Johansson was announced as SodaStream’s first global brand ambassador earlier this month. [Read more...]

When those who justify state-sponsored terrorism complain about a Palestine map on a team jersey

A Chilean team’s newest kits have put the squad under pressure following accusations that the shirts, which feature a map of historic Palestine, “foment terrorist intent”.

Yes, you read that correctly. A club football team is being accused of promoting violence and terrorism because of a map on the back of its jerseys.

Club Deportivo Palestino is one of Chile’s oldest club teams. Founded in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants, the club has had a steady presence in Chile’s top tier league. The team is based in Santiago, Chile’s capital, where it draws much of its support from the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian immigrants who fled to Chile to escape violence and colonialism as far back as the mid- to late-1800s and especially during the Nakba of the late 1940s. Today, Santiago is widely regarded as home to the largest Palestinian community in the West.

Proud of the team’s history, the team’s front office does what it can to preserve the vision and the culture of the organization’s founding members. The crest and the team’s strip boldly feature the colors of the Palestinian flag. The Bank of Palestine was at one point the team’s main shirt sponsor.

CD Palestino players, past and present, have embraced the very same vision and culture. Team captain Filipe Nuñez recently spent time visiting families and children in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem to strengthen ties between Chilean and Palestinian football fans. The team has been known to hold moments of silence and reflection during major Israeli military offensives in the occupied Gaza Strip. CD Palestino also regularly starts players of Palestinian descent. [Read more...]

Submit this Ariel Sharon obituary to your local papers

Ariel Sharon, 85, former Prime Minister of Israel, died Saturday.

Born Ariel Scheinermann, Feb. 26, 1928, in an agricultural village in northwest Palestine to the late Shmuel and Vera Scheinerman, he grew up to become a militarized youth intent on intimidating the Palestinians living in the area in which his family settled. He later joined the Haganah, a paramilitary group responsible for paving the way for Israel’s creation through human rights violations and war crimes.

Ariel’s military career took off by the mid-1940s and he quickly made a name for himself as an overly aggressive and insubordinate strategist. In 1953, Ariel led an attack against the village of Qibya, killing 69 Palestinians, most of them women and children. This would mark the first of many massacres drawn up by Ariel.

Following his massacres in Jenin, Sabra and Shatila, and everywhere in between, Ariel assumed the position of Prime Minister. His campaign involved setting off the Second Intifada by publicly declaring that Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, Muslim holy sites, would remain under Israeli control. In 2005, he pulled settlers out of the occupied Gaza Strip, only to push for settlement growth and greater land confiscation in the West Bank. He championed the apartheid wall and was instrumental in obstructing all international attempts to halt its construction.

Ariel suffered two strokes that ultimately left him in a coma in 2006. He died Jan. 11, 2014, after eight years in a coma. He was never formally tried for his roles in commanding massacres and appropriating Palestinian land.

Ariel is set to be buried Jan. 13 in the Naqab desert where, ironically, he has attempted countless times to bury entire villages and their indigenous populations.

Students post eviction notices at U of Michigan dorms, draw attention to Palestinian plight

Guest contribution by Students Allied for Freedom & Equality at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

On Tuesday morning, December 10, approximately 1,500 students woke up to mock eviction notices in six University of Michigan residential dormitories.

Inspired by the Rutgers-New Brunswick chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, members of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) dispersed the notices in the early morning in order to have students momentarily experience the feeling of receiving an eviction notice upon waking up — a feeling that thousands of indigenous Palestinians have had to face under Israeli occupation.

Although it is impossible to recreate the emotions Palestinians experience from forcible internal displacement and exile, the purpose of this action was to raise much-needed awareness regarding the ongoing forcible expulsion of indigenous Palestinians from their land to clear the way for the construction of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied territories. [Read more...]

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