Over 100 students gathered in Corwin Pavilion to witness the Associated Students (A.S.) Senate vote on a resolution to divest from companies that aid Israel in alleged human rights violations against Palestinians.
The meeting began at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and 110 students had signed up to speak during the meeting’s public forum as of approximately 2 a.m.
Senators and proxies cast their votes at approximately 4 a.m. Thursday. The resolution failed to pass after receiving 16 “no” votes, zero “yes” votes and seven abstentions.
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) proposed the resolution on April 23 urging the university to divest from companies such as Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard — urging the university to divest from all companies that perpetuate Palestinian oppression.
SJP members Anumita Kaur and Edan Tessema sponsored the resolution.
Many Jewish students who spoke at the public comment portion called the resolution anti-Semitic, saying that divestment from the nation state of Israel personally affects Jewish students on campus.
Nate Erez, a fourth-year economics and accounting major, said the resolution presents an anti-Semitic rhetoric and is a “denial of the Jewish right to self-determination.”
“This language is no more than a clever disguise to achieve a much more sinister agenda,” Erez said during public forum. “This is a direct attack on the one Jewish state in the world.”
Danielle Cohen, fourth-year sociology and film double major, said the BDS and SJP movements have presented a “misleading portrayal” of the Israel-Palestine conflict and have normalized anti-Semitism on the UCSB campus.
“I have never felt so unsafe and unwelcome on campus than I do during the BDS campaign,” Cohen said.
Other students reject the argument that divestment from Israel is an attack on religious or ethnic Jews.They defend the resolution saying that divestment maintains the UC’s neutrality in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“All this resolution is doing is fueling division on our campus.”
— Aaron Hendizadeh
Menelik Dagnachew, a third-year English major, said he supports divestment as an Ethiopian American because he believes the oppression of Palestinians is similar to the oppression of Ethiopian people.
“My heart bleeds for Palestinian people,” he said. “It makes me mad so that I’m shaking right now. As much as this is a cultural issue … this is not an issue we should be directly tied to.”
Cameron Klein, a second-year history major and Jewish student, spoke in favor of the resolution and objected to the alleged victimization of the Jewish ethnic minority.
“Just because you’re a minority does not give you the right to violate human rights,” he said.
Michael Torbati, the chief financial officer of the A.S. Finance and Business Committee, said he is opposed to divestment because he believes the investment in the companies is beneficial for students and the university.
“In terms of fiscal responsibility, these investments bring a lot back to UCSB students,” Torbati said.
Other speakers at public forum in support of the resolution cited historical events, such as the United States Civil Rights movement and the South African apartheid, as similar to the violation of human rights of the Palestinian people.
Steven Kwok, the A.S. director of legislative accountability, urged the senate to vote through a roll call vote “in the interest of transparency.”
The public forum ended at approximately 2 a.m. and the Senate then heard statements from the resolution’s sponsors, Kaur and Tessema.
During deliberation, some senators echoed the opinions of students who spoke earlier saying the resolution was an anti-Semitic gesture.
Senator Aaron Hendizadeh said that if this resolution was solely about divestment from U.S. companies, then the drafters would not have needed to include the companies’ partnerships with Israel in the resolution text. He said he believes the resolution singles out Israel for this reason.
“All this resolution is doing is fueling division on our campus,” he said.
Senator Hannah Ellenhorn said the resolution ignores the cultural and religious identities of Jewish students on campus and marginalizes the Jewish community.
“Only a minority of a community can define what hatred is against that community,” she said. “You cannot tell the Jewish community that this is not an attack on their identity.”
Other senators defended the resolution, insisting as students did earlier in the night that divestment from Israel is about asserting the UC’s neutrality in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Senator Jonathan Lopez said the resolution does not question whether or not the state of Israel has a right to exist; rather, he said it is about withdrawing UC investments from alleged human rights violations in the Middle East.
“We cannot be complicit in these acts anymore,” he said.
Justice Dumlao, who served as a proxy for Senator Lesly Silva, said he is in solidarity with the Palestinian people as a member of Queer Commission and said he understands the feeling of being oppressed in society.
UCSB remains the last University of California campus to not pass a divestment resolution.
Updated 4:30 a.m.
Tamari Dzotsenidze, Phi Do and Jose Ochoa contributed reporting.
Great decision UC Santa Barbara. Show those BDS-holes the curb.
Is Menelik Dagnachew aware that Israel air-lifted and otherwise smuggled tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews out of danger and brought them home to Israel at great risk, Jews who look no different than other Ethiopians thereby denying any racist character to Jewish nationalism?
How is that relevant? That was a good action by Israel. The illegal occupation and settlement of Palestine is a bad thing. Doing a service to Ethiopian Jews doesn’t give you permission to deny rights or independence to Palestinians.
Duh. I wrote specifically: to counter claims of racism. We do not do anything illegal in our historic homeland and have accepted territorial compromises again and again and yielded up territory. Since 1920, however, Arabs resident in “Palestine” have consistently refused any plan to grant them independence. Even an Arab state of the UN 1947 was rejected. The only Arabs who gained something here were the Saudi Arabian Hashemites who landed in Transjordan in November 1920 and for them, Palestine was divided. Ironic, no?
Israel is doing something illegal in the Palestinian territories. The UN has clearly stated starting in UNSC resolution 242 all the way to UNSC resolutionn 2334 that Israel must withdraw from the Palestinian territories. All nations on earth condemn Israeli expansionism in the occupied territories. It is a blatant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention to settle occupied territories. The Arabs did reject the non-binding UN Partition plan (which gave 60% of the land to the Jews who made up 40% of the population). That does not mean that Palestinians have no rights to a state in 2017. The Palestinian… Read more »
a. The UN has clearly stated starting in UNSC resolution 242…that Israel must withdraw from the Palestinian territories.” Are you aware that the terms “Palestine” or “Palestinian” do not appear at all in 242? At least until 1967, and later, of course, there were no “Palestinian people” in international law or forums. Even many of the Arabs knew they were actually Southern Syrians. BTW, a Palestinian nationality concept only came into being in 1924 because of the Jews. b. If you read 242, it demands “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces”. And civilians? Jews returning to their homes from where they… Read more »
And as for Cameron Klein’s statement, “Just because you’re a minority does not give you the right to violate human rights”, then if human rights is the bench-mark, the ethnic cleansing by the Arabs of Palestine of close to 30,000 Jews from the areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, some whose families had been there for centuries, in pogrom and riot waves in 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936-39 and 1947-48, should disqualify them from any support and/or sympathy he possesses for them. In addition, the near total and exclusive targeting by Arab terrorists of civilian Jews after 1948, by the Fedayeen… Read more »
wait a minute. i thought the reason that blacks cdn’t be racists was because they were a minority, hence exempt from the criticism of hegemonic (racist) discourse. if this principle holds, then Muslim Americans and pro-Palestinian students on campus who support Hamas and the PA, both of whom violate Israel and Palestinian human rights cannot hide behind being “marginalized and underrepresented voice.” they must be held accountable for supporting human-rights violating groups.
maybe what we need is a boycott of pro-BDS groups who support the violation of human rights.
Dear Anonymous, actually, all we need are students who can read, do a minimum of research and question propaganda claims. Learning true history is not that difficult.
As a cultural anthropology major at UCSB, I have done my research. There is reason why underrepresented communities commiserate with the plight of Palestinian people. Many of us see the parallels between the land grabs issued by the United States to settle on Native American territory and how modern Isreal was founded. The US,like Isreal, partitioned land only to those who supported their expansionist efforts. And since the US is Isreal #1 supporter, one can easily I see the relationship between both situations. What in Germany was deeply disturbing, but how is the Isreal situation any different than how the… Read more »
As for your use of “indigenous population:, you might to recheck. As far as I know, actual Arabs are in the area known as the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), including a source in the Quran, “O my people! Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you” [5:21] as well as “And We made the people who were deemed weak to inherit the eastern land… [7:136], only from 638-640 CE when they came out of Saudi Arabia, conquered and occupied the land and then, oddly, adopted its Latin name applied by the conquering Romans, Palestine (there’s no… Read more »
So, your argument is that a religios based text proves they have a legitimate claim to the land? I’m sorry,how is that different than manifest destiny?
No, that is not my argument. I mentioned the Quran because most Muslims who oppose Jewish national identity and reject our attachment to the land, even to the extent of falsifying out history and making wild claims as Saeb Erekat did that “Palestinians” precede the Jews in the land because they were Natufians (see: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 2, 2014 “Palestinian [chief negotiator] Dr. Saeb Erekat told Israeli [MP and negotiator] Tzipi Livni: ‘My Canaanite family lived in Jericho 3,000 years before the people of Israel came to the city, led by Joshua Bin Nun.’} do so out… Read more »
Ancient connection to land does not give you superior right to land. Palestinians have been there for centuries at minimum. Israel is denying rights to all Palestinians in the occupied terrotories. If Israel won’t give them citizenship then it must give them independence.
“Palestinians” (by which you mean Arabs, yes? although Palestinians also were Jews) have a superior right because of being in the Jewish homeland “for centuries at minimum”, you write? And that cancels out the Jewish residency and kingdoms and commonwealths for 2000 years or more? Okay, so we’ll wait 500 years into the future and with Israel in Judea and Samaria, that will cancel out the Arab claim according to your logic?
Just to be fair, those who support SJP in this article don’t really have any on the ground knowledge of what is happening to Arabs in Israel. They repeat the same nonsense that they have been told by folks who have been lying about Israel for the last 70 years, but that doesn’t mean they actually have a point. BDS is an anti-normalization campaign. By definition, they do not want Jews and Arabs to live together in peace. By definition, anti-normalization means to disrupt all contact between the two people’s. In essence, SJP promotes segregation as a solution. I am… Read more »
The fact that you think that this is about Arabs in Israel is extremely telling. This is not about Israel this is about the occupied Palestinian Territories which Israel is illegally occupying and illegally settling. All Palestinians in the occupied territories are stateless and denied rights despite living under Israeli occupation.
It was a land grab that was heavily influenced by the British playing landlord with foreign territories (Balfour Declaration). No one wants Jewish people to vanish, but peace talks should begin contextually, not where it is most convenient for the settler. And again, religious texts are not historically reliable.
NO one wants the Jewish people to vanish? You must not be paying attention to reality
It’s encouraging that the senate allowed so many people to speak. It’s encouraging that they listened and debated. And, it’s encouraging that when they heard both sides it was clear to them that BDS is (as its founders have actually said) an effort to delegitimize and ultimately eradicate Israel. It is unfortunate that SJP and their fellow travelers have an agenda that does nothing to help the indigenous Arabs of the region. In fact, by offering false hope that Israel will be eliminated, they encourage the Arabs to dig in their heels, make demands that are impossible to meet (e.g.,… Read more »
You are all such morons for spending 8 hours on this. AS owns no assets or stocks blacklisted by BDS.
Josh Ortiz is trash
The article was pretty cut and dry with what happened. I don’t really see why you feel the need to insult the writer.
The fact that so many students felt personally attacked by a resolution about defending the rights of the occupied Palestinian people is disgraceful. They have wrapped up anti-Palestinian ideology into their identity. This is an awful trend that we are seeing.
I stopped donating to UCSB two years ago because of student antisemitism.