By failing to pass SR #20 in a 5-5-3 vote, the ASUCD Senate has given the University of California’s decision to invest in the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine a stamp of approval. With the final senate vote tied at 5-5-2, the tie-breaking vote was given to ASUCD Vice President Maxwell Kappes, who abstained, which was effectively the vote that killed the resolution. Therefore, the University will continue to invest in companies that profit from the demolition of Palestinian-civilian structures, the ongoing Israeli settlement and colonization of Palestinian land, the detention and torture of Palestinian political prisoners and the construction of the apartheid wall that runs through occupied Palestinian territory without condemnation or pressure from ASUCD.
The crimes mentioned in the failed resolution are indisputable. Proponents cited United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the International Court of Justice, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International; all of which conclude that these companies are currently violating the human rights enshrined in international law. Because those who opposed the resolution could not dispute these violations, they instead attempted to justify them by claiming that Israel’s security needs warranted the brutalization and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people. This argument is incorrect, dehumanizing and offensive. The occupation does not increase the security of Israelis, and Israel has no right to suppress the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
When a similar resolution was proposed last year, the opposition claimed such a resolution did not have popular support. This year, when the support of on-campus clubs and organizations was overwhelming, the opposition emotionally argued that the resolution would marginalize a group of UC Davis students. What the opposition failed to realize is that because the University already invests in companies participating in this illegal and vicious occupation, Palestinian students, who are forced to be party to these violations, are already marginalized on this campus. While the feelings of some Israeli and Jewish students on this campus might have been wounded by the passage of SR20, they have never felt — and will likely never feel — the marginalization that comes with being a part of an institution whose funds are directly dedicated to the destruction of their people.
The outcome of this vote implicitly suggests that ASUCD cares more about the feelings of pro-Israeli students than it cares about the feelings of Palestinian students, the feelings of those students that stand in solidarity with the oppressed, the application of human rights or corporate accountability. Furthermore, the message understood by this vote is that the tears of the anti-divestment community are worth more than Palestinian blood.
SR20 was written with the knowledge that, as UC Davis students and community members, we are complicit in Palestinian suffering. We cannot, in good faith, continue to let our funds be used in such a way. We are determined to seek justice. Throughout the weeks leading up to this campaign we have received an immense amount of support. We are encouraged by the solidarity from on campus, around the country and around the globe. We thank those, including the five ASUCD senators that voted “yes,” who have continued to support us in this endeavor, and have continued to support the ambitions of the Palestinian people. We will not rest until this University divests from the crimes committed against the Palestinians. We will not cease our efforts until the Palestinians are given the same dignity and respect that all human beings deserve.
Diyala Shihadih, President of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis
Evan W. Sandlin