Anti-Divestment Motion Defeated at University of California Los Angeles Student Council
With 7 votes against and 5 in favor, the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council voted last night to defeat a resolution that threatened the ability for students to pursue divestment from companies tied to the Israeli occupation.
The resolution, entitled “A Resolution In Support of Positive Steps Towards an Israeli-Palestinian Peace" framed divestment as a source of tension on campus, while also calling for "positive investment" in a basket of companies loosely affiliated with both Israelis and Palestinians.
Over a hundred students attended the hearings, which lasted until 3am on October 23rd. Over the course of two and a half hours of public comment, over 40 students from a variety of campus communities spoke against the bill, arguing that its claims to support community engagement were hypocritical given the exclusion of SJP from the bill's writing process; wide ranging criticism by Palestinians of "positive investment," and criticism of the attempt to bar divestment from public debate. Two council members admitted to having taken free trips to Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, which has actively opposed divestment bills at the University of California system and campaigned against SJPs.
Council members responded by systematically removing clauses that spoke on behalf of Palestinians or limited their ability to engage in divestment activism. Eventually the bill lost support and failed when put to a vote. Students for Justice in Palestine board member Angélica Becerra commented "I am very happy with tonight's outcome. It shows great resiliency on the part of SJP and that our community support is very strong."
Members of SJP expressed hope that efforts to prevent debate around divestment would continue to be unsuccessful, while the statewide campaign against efforts to remove university investments from companies enabling the occupation would continue to gain momentum across the state.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA was founded in 2005 and is a coalition of students working in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.