On Thursday, Feb. 26, in a decision that represents a victory for those who oppose any kind of boycott against Israel, the UCLA undergraduate student government voted 7-5 to strike down a proposed “Resolution to Divest from Companies that Violate Palestinian Human Rights.”
A group called Students for Justice in Palestine authored the resolution.
“I think for our community it’s not necessarily a win – it wasn’t a loss for us, and that was what was most important,” Tammy Rubin, president of Hillel at UCLA, said in an interview on Thursday morning, following the vote.
“It’s a very upsetting reality that a community at our school feels upset and not represented, but at same time we had our voice heard. We showed this resolution for what it was, which was a BDS resolution,” Rubin said.
The campaign for the resolution targeted divestment by the university from companies including Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, Cemez, General Electric and Hewlett-Packard, but did not have official ties with the movement known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Nor would its passing have ensured any form of divestment by the university. However, had it passed, the student-submitted motion would have carried a symbolic gravity in coming from the representative undergraduate student government body of a major public university. In the resolution, the Students for Justice in Palestine called actions by Israelis in the West Bank “human rights abuses.”
A public forum that that preceded the vote underscored student passion on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the session, which began at 7 p.m. and lasted more than six hours, one student after another, including members of Bruins for Israel; Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP); Alpha Epsilon Pi; Muslim Student Association; Bruin Democrats; the Afrikan Student Union, and others took turns appearing before the panel of the Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC) members to voice their opinions about the conflict.
The motion, which was sponsored by three USAC members, called on UCLA to withdraw investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings in the aforementioned companies, until these companies are no longer engaged in the violation of…behavior deemed unethical by the UCLA community.”
Many campus groups participated.
According to the pro-Israel organization Stand With Us, the council voted on the resolution at approximately 6:30 a.m. This was nearly 12 hours after the session began.
USAC members submitted votes in a secret ballot.
USAC members preside over meeting.