Jewish Federations mount campaign against Berkeley divestment measure as ‘alienating and hateful’

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Connor Landgraf, a bioengineering major at Berkeley who hails from northern California, is now at the center of the divestment struggle at the University of California. Landgraf is the president of the school’s student government; and the Israel lobby is urging its legions to petition him to veto a divestment measure passed last week.

Connor Landgraf
Connor Landgraf

You may recall that last Thursday the Berkeley student senate voted, by 11-9, to call on the University of California to divest from three companies that do business in the Israeli occupation.

Robert Birgineau, the chancellor of the University, has deprecated the bill with the sort of language that in the Vietnam era we would have called wishywashy– and then called for dialogue:

it is my personal opinion that targeting a single nation or state in this highly complex world is not appropriate and does little to advance the cause of peace and coexistence. Ultimately, we believe that engaging in dialogue on these difficult issues is the best hope that we have for achieving peace.

Meantime, the lobby has thrown itself into the case. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs has been emailing its friends urging them to write Landgraf to get him to veto the measure. The last time divestment passed in 2010, that is what befell it: the student government president vetoed the measure.

Here is Connor Landgraf’s page. His email is [email protected]

The campaign is being co-sponsored by the largest Jewish charitable organization in the U.S., the Jewish Federations (which represents 154 Jewish Federations and over 300 “network communities”– the official Jewish community). The Federation/JCPA appeal praises efforts by “Jewish faculty” to block divestment. And it describes divestment, which seeks to delegitimize the settlement enterprise, “alienating and hateful”:

On Thursday, April 18 the Associated Students (ASUC) at UC Berkeley passed SB160 calling on the ASUC and the UC Regents to divest from three companies doing business with Israel. We and the JCRC [Jewish Community Relations Council] of San Francisco, the Peninusla, Marin, Sonomoa, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties are proud of the dozens of pro-Israel students, Jewish faculty members and Hillel for their tremendous efforts that fell just short. The President of the UC Berkeley Student Body has until Wednesday, April 24 to veto this one-sided and harmful bill.

What can YOU do? Email President Connor Landgraf TODAY calling on him to veto the bill.

We only have a small window of opportunity to urge him to veto the bill, so now is the time to act and spread the word – we cannot be complacent! Let President Landgraf know that the passage of Bill SB160 is alienating and hateful. Feel free to share any personal connection you may have to Cal, the Jewish community and Israel. Please refrain from using any incendiary or offensive language that may detract from this important cause.

Email President Connor Landgraf TODAY calling on him to veto the bill.

The lobby’s form letter to Landgraf includes this language. Notice the fear of BDS, and the demonization of BDS: 

Dear President Landgraf
I am writing to you today to encourage you to veto SB160.  This is a one sided and biased bill that is already being co-opted by the international BDS movement, whose sole aim is to delegitimize the state of Israel.  Your leadership and clear thinking is crucial at this critical time. 
Stand up for human rights for all the citizens of the world.  It is clear that this bill is using the guise of human rights to unfairly assign blame and tarnish the reputation of Israel, a world-leader in technology and innovation.
Veto SB160.

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