Tomorrow, the Associated Students Senate at UCSB will vote on a proposed resolution to divest from companies that have ties to Israel. This resolution is part of the broader Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS is an international movement that seeks to destroy, defame, and delegitimize the only Jewish state.
As someone whose parents found a home in Israel after fleeing religious persecution during the Iranian Revolution, I feel directly targeted by this resolution. My family’s experience does not stand alone. Many Jewish Israelis are people of color who came from Middle Eastern countries where their families faced persecution and discrimination, and Israel was the only place where they could find refuge. The descendants of these refugees make up the vibrant and diverse society that is Israel. For us, Israel is a safe haven and the embodiment of our liberation. This resolution attempts to erase this history.
I, like many supporters of Israel, believe there is room to criticize the state. In fact, it is open criticism of Israel that makes it stronger and a true democracy. There are legitimate ways to criticize Israel, and there are ways to express these criticisms without erasing my people’s narrative and history. This resolution is not that way.
Instead of advancing a one-sided resolution, we should be supporting initiatives that promote a better life for Palestinians and Israelis. Instead of divesting, we should be investing in collaboration and coexistence. Instead of dictating a political solution to a faraway conflict, we should be coming together to bridge our gaps and better understand one another here at UCSB. This resolution impedes progress towards justice and the goal of peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. It promotes a dangerous pattern that divides our campus, stifles dialogue, and creates a hostile atmosphere at UCSB.
We, as students at such a highly esteemed university, have the power to enact real and important change. It is dangerous and morally irresponsible, however, to pass a resolution that erases a whole group of people’s narrative and history. I urge you to do your research and understand all sides of this issue. I urge ASUCSB and my fellow Gauchos to come together with open minds and find a more productive way forward.
Sarah Mehrnia encourages the 69th Senate not to divest from Israel.