A witness to history: Report from the UC Irvine divestment vote

on 11 Comments

How many times I have read about historic events, listened to the stories told by those who were there, and wondered… Countless times I have looked at photos, and seen movies and gotten lost in thoughts of what it must have been like, what it must have felt like… But this time I was there. Tonight I was there.

Tonight, along with over 100 others packed around the perimeter of a room, lining the walls, spilling out of the doors into the hall. Tonight I was there, seeing what it looked like, hearing what it sounds like and feeling what it felt like while history was being made. I was there as a guest speaker at a meeting of UC Irvine’s Student Legislative Council as they listened to comments, watched an impassioned presentation and made statements of their own. And then they proceeded to unanimously pass a resolution for “Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid”.

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The scene inside the UC Irvine vote.
(Photo: IrvineDivest/Instagram)

Tonight I watched student activists who have worked on moving this mountain for years; come together with grad students, alumni and student legislators to make history. One by one they proudly spoke of what it means for them to do this together. They spoke about the importance of what they were doing- not for themselves, but for the people who’s lives, dreams and homes are being crushed every day. The spoke of the proud history of activism at UC Irvine, and other schools, and the roll those movements have played in achieving human and civil rights. They spoke about taking their place in that history of moving humanity forward. They spoke of what it means to be the first UC campus to pass a divestment resolution to counter the human rights violations of Israel against the Palestinian people, and the ripple effects that the collective action they would take tonight will have on the future. The spoke respectfully and with resolve.

They didn’t speak about what this action might do or could do, they spoke about what it will do. They know in their hearts and souls that they are on the right side of the historic arc of justice and collectively they leaped to grab the tip and bend it further.

It was a beautiful sight to see, it felt wonderful.

Tonight I was there.

About Estee Chandler

Estee Chandler is the Los Angeles Organizer for Jewish Voice for Peace. Producer/Co-host Middle East in Focus, KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles

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11 Responses

  1. Dutch
    November 14, 2012, 6:25 am

    From the Netherlands: Bravo!

  2. MRW
    November 14, 2012, 6:39 am

    Good. This is good news. UC Irving isn’t exactly a lefty universe, or an insignificant university. 16-0 is the slapdown. Maybe a gauntlet?

  3. Kathleen
    November 14, 2012, 7:36 am

    Chills. Thank you for writing such a clear and impassioned description of what took place. Such a strong reminder of actions taken on college campuses against South African apartheid in the late 70’s and into the 80’s.

  4. kalki
    November 14, 2012, 9:01 am

    Great news….has simply made my day! I’m sure more will follow; how long can you keep contradicting your own values?

  5. seafoid
    November 14, 2012, 9:26 am

    Magic. Zionism is losing market share everywhere- let’s see how the UN votes at the end of the month next.

  6. Annie Robbins
    November 14, 2012, 9:37 am

    tears of joy, it’s happening.

    • Kathleen
      November 14, 2012, 2:39 pm

      long long time coming but it is happening as Israel bombs the shit out of Gaza killing children and expanding illegal settlements.

  7. pabelmont
    November 14, 2012, 11:00 am

    Just beautiful.

  8. LanceThruster
    November 14, 2012, 1:20 pm

    This is truly encouraging. Looking at another story, I came across this website – http://octaskforce.wordpress.com/ – that has been viewing all related stories through their own particular prism.

    It seems that they continue the fight to keep their blinders on.

  9. Inanna
    November 14, 2012, 6:00 pm

    Well done. Keep up the good work.

  10. yourstruly
    November 14, 2012, 7:31 pm

    you were present & you spoke, which means you not only witnessed history, you participated in making history.

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