Almost two years after the Irvine 11 unprecedentedly faced criminal charges for verbally disrupting a speech by Israel ambassador Michael Oren, the student government at the University of California, Irvine passed a divestment resolution with a 16-0-0 vote.
The resolution, penned and proposed by UC Irvine students, requires the university to divest from corporations and businesses profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its systematic abuse of human rights. These companies include Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, among others.
The elected undergraduate student representatives also see the resolution as an opportunity for the university to engage and mobilize students to “protect human rights on a global scale,” according to Traci Ishigo, President of the Associated Student of UC Irvine.
UC Irvine is now the first university in California poised to divest from Israeli apartheid and occupation.
This divestment success carries great significance given the fact that students have faced a tremendous amount of anti-Palestinian pressure after Oren’s lecture was interrupted. A recent campus climate report proposed and funded by pro-Israel lobby groups urged the University of California system to crack down on groups and events that criticize Israel, alleging that activism for Palestinian civil and human rights is anti-Semitic and that pro-Palestine activity “threatens and endangers the health and safety of University of California’s Jewish students.”
Ironically enough, Ynet News characterized UC Irvine as a hotbed for pro-Israel activity just eight days before this divestment resolution passed. And, from what I understand, literally hours before news of the unanimous vote to adopt the resolution broke, President of the Zionist Organization of America Morton Klein authored a letter citing his appreciation that “most of the Boycott, Sanctions and Investment (BDS) campaigns have been largely unsuccessful at numerous campuses across America.” Had he submitted his letter just a short while later, he’d be even more unable to justify this claim.
UC Irvine’s divestment resolution is modeled after the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel to force it to comply with international law and human rights standards. Similar resolutions have passed at Hampshire College and Evergreen State College in prior years.
Presently, students from a variety of universities are preparing similar divestment resolutions. A number of campuses throughout the country have also adopted the WeDivest campaign seeking to pressure pension fund giant TIAA-CREF to divest from many of the same companies documented in the UC Irvine resolution. New York University has already seen great success in this campaign and Loyola University Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Chicago are following suit.
Click here to read the press release announcing the UC Irvine divestment resolution success.