Recently, there have been two bills put forward for a vote before student organizations within the University of California that call on the University to divest from companies doing business with Israel. Understandably, these bills have received considerable attention from the public and the media.
The overarching question of the University of California divesting from any company is a complex one and any action considered must conform to State and federal laws, as well as to the University’s fiduciary responsibilities as a public entity to protect the security of its pension and endowment funds. In 2005, the Regents stated that a policy of divestment from a foreign government shall be adopted by the University only when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide. It was also noted at the time that divestment is a serious decision that should be rarely pursued.
We share The Regents’ belief that divestment needs to be undertaken with caution. We firmly believe that if there is to be any discussion of divestment from a business or country, it must be robust and fair-minded. We must take great care that no one organization or country is held to a different standard than any other. In the current resolutions voted on by the UC student organizations, the State of Israel and companies doing business with Israel have been the sole focus. This isolation of Israel among all countries of the world greatly disturbs us and is of grave concern to members of the Jewish community.
We fully support the Board of Regents in its policy to divest from a foreign government or companies doing business with a foreign government only when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide. The U.S. has not made any declaration regarding the State of Israel and, therefore, we will not bring a recommendation before the Board to divest from companies doing business with the State of Israel.