Associated Students / News

Students Divided Over UC Divestment Issue

Students for Justice in Palestine and American Students for Israel have set up signs opposite each other in the Arbor in preparation for a resolution regarding UC divestment from Israel, which will be a topic of discussion at next Wednesday’s Associated Students meeting at Corwin Pavilion.

The resolution, if passed, would encourage UCSB administration to withdraw investments from companies that supply Israel with equipment, supplies and services that enable Israel to occupy Palestine. The meeting will feature testimonies from SJP, who proposed the resolution, and ASI, who oppose it. A similar divestment resolution consumed many of the A.S. meetings last year, but ultimately failed to pass following an intense 11-hour meeting.

Mohsin Mirza, a second-year sociology major and member of SJP, said the group’s aim is to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine.

“We’re not here to decide on what the solution is for Palestine. We’re here to stand up and to make it known that we do not support the oppression of the Palestinian people,” Mirza said.

Second-year political science major and ASI member Ariella Plachta said although the issue was divisive last year, both sides share the struggle of defending their beliefs and having their stories heard.

“I hope people will learn that this war, like any other, has two narratives, two histories, two peoples that both deserve full self-determination and every human right,” Plachta said.

But in support of the resolution, Mirza said Palestine has been occupied for 40 years by the Israeli military, which has exploited Palestinians for their labor, while encroaching on their land to build Israeli settlements.

“People are being displaced everyday. Bulldozers that we are invested in through companies like Caterpillar are knocking down the homes of Palestinians,” Mirza said. “This is something that has been going on not just since recently, but for years now. It’s gotten to a point where the international community has an obligation to respond.”

However, second-year dance and psychology double major Lyla Palmer held a different view, saying Israel has attempted peace talks but has been turned away.

“Over the past 66 years, Israel has made numerous concessions and efforts to bring peace to the region but they were all rejected by Palestinian leaders,” Palmer said. “Singling out Israel, the only democratic state in the Middle East, is highly biased and does not promote peace on either side.”

Mirza said SJP’s goal with the resolution is to follow the same methods used during South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement from the 1960s through ’90s, which focused on economically targeting South Africa in protest of their racist practices. According to Mirza, the way Palestine is viewed from the eyes of the mainstream public must be changed.

“No one’s talking about the need for peace within the Palestinian people’s lives and the need for Palestinian self-determination and well-being of the Palestinian people,” Mirza said. “SJP, a lot of it, is bringing that perspective and letting people realize that these things are taking place.”

While Palmer said that the divestment debate would “likely stir up similar negative reactions across campus” as it did last year, Plachta said members of ASI remain hopeful that this year’s meeting will promote education on the issue, while avoiding the physical and mental stress that was experienced by last year’s participants.

“Last year was a small catastrophe, during which, both sides of this tragic issue suffered emotionally, physically and academically,” Plachta said. “I believe this year’s meeting can be a productive, educational opportunity to express passions and concerns but will not reap us of valuable sleep and studying.”

Mirza said he acknowledged that while the resolution is partly symbolic, he hopes it will help get the conversation started regarding the situation in Palestine.

“We know that divestment alone can’t change the occupation of Palestine, and can’t change the human rights crisis that exists there, but we can begin that conversation. We can begin working towards that,” Mirza said.


This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.

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  1. JD Saling says:

    Divesting from the apartheid state would be one the most upstanding ethical decisions made by the council at UCSB in recent memory; following the likes of UCI, UCSD, UCR, and CAL in divestment.

    The feeble zionist brain-washing needs to end for the sake of our collective sanity. The failure to reach a deal of recognizable equity for a two-state solution continues, with the support of illegal settlement building by oppressive zionists and wacko Christian evangelists.

    I can only hope that one of the most outright indoctrinated UC campuses can move forward and progress towards unbiased and reasonable support for the Palestinian movement.

  2. Viva Palestine!!!!

    “We stand against all forms of oppression, and firmly in solidarity with the Palestinians in their struggle against oppression. Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been an openly racist and apartheid state, using both legally sanctioned discrimination and military force to ethnically cleanse and oppress the indigenous Palestinian people. It has imposed an apartheid system both inside the Zionist state and in the Palestinian territories that it seized in 1967.”

    “Israel continues to annex Palestinian territory; Israel persists in demolishing Palestinians’ homes and populating Palestine with Israeli citizens; Israel maintains a policy of collectively punishing 1.75 million Palestinians through its imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip; and Israel prosecutes its occupation with impunity, refusing to accept the world’s calls to respect international law”

    Israel has never been serious about peace talks as they continue building settlements on Palestinian land. Israel has countless human rights violations due to murdering civilians as well as human rights activists, using illegal weapons such as white phosphorous, etc. The only reason nothing has been done by the international community is because of the US keeps vetoing the resolutions (and sending billions in aid every year). Israel steals Palestinian water, continues bulldozing homes on occupied land, and creates an apartheid system by use of their wall (checkpoints, separate roads, etc). Viva Palestine. Justice for those oppressed is coming. Time to divest, time for BDS!

  3. If you want to see a BDS supporter squirm, ask them why Israel existing as a
    Jewish state is unacceptable and racist but Palestine existing as an Arab and
    Muslim state is a noble cause worth supporting.

    My proof of this is examples of the Palestinian National Charter:

    “Article 1. Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people;
    it is an indivisible part of the greater Arab homeland, and the Palestinian
    people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”

    And from the basic law of Palestine:

    “Islam is the official religion in Palestine.”

    So why isn’t there a movement to boycott the Palestinians, seeing as how they
    make it clear they intend to make a theocratic, ethnic-based state?

  4. Google “gays” and “Palestinians” to see how gay people are treated by the people who are calling for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. The first search result is titled, “Palestinian gays flee to Israel”

    Google “Palestinian” and “honor killings” to see how women are treated by the people who are calling for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.

    If you are a femalel student (or alumna) who is thinking about going to “Palestine” to help protest against the Evil Zionists, I suggest that you first read “Female Palestinian Peace Activists Suffer Sexual Harassment, Rape From Palestinians” (just Google on the title). You might want to reconsider.

    As a final note, look up Israel’s and the Palestinians’ relative political and civil rights ratings at Israel’s are close to the best possible while those under both Hamas and Fatah are almost the worst possible.

    Now, please explain to me again who is guilty of crimes, apartheid policies (e.g. dhimmis or second-class citizens in countries under militant Islamic rule), and so on. I have not even touched on the Palestinians’ long litany of mindless terroristic violence including the Munich Massacre, the massacre of the Fogel family including young children in their beds, and so on.

  5. The divestment resolution isn’t proposing that the UC divest from Israel but rather from corporations that profit from the violation of human rights. It’d be good if the Nexus could get the basic facts right…

    • “The resolution, if passed, would encourage UCSB administration to withdraw investments from companies that supply Israel with equipment, supplies and services that enable Israel to occupy Palestine.”

      It’d be good if you could actually read the article…

    • Companies that profit from supposed violations of human rights in one country only – Israel. We couldn’t care less about countries with sweatshops in China or anything like that.

      • I’m pretty sure there’s been a past resolution on sweatshops years ago, or if not there will be. Hence why all ucsb attire in the bookstore is sweatshop free and expensive.

        But you do have a point, why is only Israel targeted? And why does this particular resolution keep coming up.

        Hopefully other pressing global injustices will be addressed by Senate as well instead of the same old tired out Palestine vs Israel one.

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