Democracy and divestment — DePaul and UCLA students try to thwart Israel lobby

Israel/Palestine
on 54 Comments

There’s something really exciting going on this week at DePaul University in Chicago, 1300 students signed a petition to get a divestment referendum added to the student government election ballot. If the referendum passes  it will bind next year’s student government against passing anything that contradicts the outcome of the students vote. Yesterday students took over the SAC Pit on campus and turned it into a center for Palestinian culture, resistance, and community building at DePaul.

On its face this might not seem radical. But win or lose, the implication in terms of awareness, transparency, and student empowerment over future divestment initiatives across the country is huge. Why?  Most universities approach this by trying to pass a resolution through the student government and by lobbying the student senators. And as the video above makes clear, the way the Israel lobby operates is “to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote.”  That’s right, by taking over student governments on campuses all across this country, by targeting student leaders for the benefit of Israel’s interests, they seek to bind the outcome in their favor.

 This is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capital. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.

#DePaulDivest students have taken over Lounge area on campus

#DePaulDivest students have taken over Lounge area on campus in all day sit-in. May 20,2014 (photo Leila Abdul Razzaq)

What creepy confidence, what chutzpa. Seeking to determine the outcome of future divestment initiatives on campuses across the country only through influencing student leaders, as opposed to directly approaching the entire student body, is the name of their game. They do not want a broader conversation on campuses and they certainly do not want a national conversation about our relationship with Israel.

As Leila Abdul Razzaq, 21, president of Students for Justice in Palestine at DePaul explains:

“The thing that these divestment campaigns do, they change the framework of the conversation…It makes the issue of Palestine relevant to people’s lives. When we see the way we’re complicit in these human rights abuses, it is no longer an option to be neutral and say, ‘It doesn’t concern us.'”

Yes, it’s the very framework in which this conversation is taking place that threatens to upset the status quo. The opposition knows it too and is willing to spread malicious rumors and engage in dirty tricks, like misrepresenting who they are, in order to win. 

Which brings us to another amazing event that happened early this month at UCLA.  After it was revealed that four Bruins United student council members had gone on trips sponsored by pro Israel lobbying groups, members of UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Armenian Students’ Association drafted a Joint Statement on Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) Ethics  asking candidates running for USAC officer positions to sign a pledge that, if elected, they would refrain from taking free or sponsored trips with AIPAC, ADL, Aish International’s Hasbara Fellowships, or other non-student centered external groups. The pledge was well supported by an array of student groups including the Muslim Student Association, Afrikan Student Union, and Samahang Pilipino.

A majority of candidates signed the pledge. FIRED UP! and LET’S ACT!, two of the three major party slates, did so as well, and the person who went on to be elected student body president signed. None of the candidates running with Bruins United did.

The pledge is a long time coming. After UCLA’s student legislators were exposed for taking pro-Israel trips  during the debate over a “positive investment” resolution last fall, SJP member Rahim Kurwa told me that it was  “a very captivating moment”  when the entire focus of the room was riveted over the disclosure of a student leader who had been on one of ADL’s politically oriented trips; the ADL is known to have engaged in Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian campaigns marginalizing members of Muslim communities on campus. Later in the meeting another council member disclosed he too had been on an ADL trip, and then a third revealed he had attended an AIPAC conference as a delegate. At the time Kurwa noted the effectiveness of these pro Israel political jaunts disappears once it become a political liability, “once it becomes widely understood — and you can’t do it in the dark”

Yesterday I spoke with UCLA-JVP board member Gabriel Levine, a fifth-year math and economics student:

Instead of us being passive and calling them out afterwards, letting the whole student body know before they are elected sends a message we want to know who their affiliations are with, it is a move towards transparency.

As this Student Outreach at AIPAC video explains, more than 1300 students from 370 college and high schools campuses across the country, representing all 50 states, attended just one of these conferences and a whopping 25% of those students were student body presidents. But students should know when they vote for leaders if they’ve previously formed allegiances that could conflict with basic principles of human rights.

In the case of UCLA’s Sunny Singh, one of the beneficiaries of an ADL trip who has co-sponsored pro Israel resolutions in his capacity as a USAC student representative, the ADL openly stipulated its post-trip expectations of him, requesting that he apply what he’d learned on the trip well into the future. But elected student representatives on the student council are prohibited from having an “unauthorized financial interest or obligation” which might compromise their loyalty, and the bylaws advise that USAC members avoid the perception of conflicts of interest.

It is for this reason UCLA- SJP recently filed a complaint against Singh and another former USAC member and current Financial Supports Commissioner Lauren Rogers that led to a hearing last week before the USAC’s Judicial Board. The Judicial Board case will review their votes on a highly contentious divestment resolution that got voted down last February after 9 hours of public comment.

UCLA’s chancellor Gene Block put out a statement after the fact, claiming the pledge “sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others” and that the pledge could “reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion.”

Levine stated there’d been a backlash. He’s been surprised by how much publicity the Joint Statement has gotten, but says that the publicity has been misconstrued  as a banning on all Israel trips. Indeed the reports are still pouring in, including screams of McCarthyism.

Haaretz reported the situation is being closely followed.

Whether it is candidate pledges or student ballot referendums, these initiatives create an opportunity for a wider range of engagement on America’s campuses. DePaul professor Khalil Marrar believes student involvement should be praised. “I think the purpose and mission of education should be trying to find solutions to very intractable problems,” he said. “It is our duty as Americans to help Israelis and Palestinians resolve their differences.”

So how do folks do that? Cameron Erickson is president of “Demon PAC: Students Supporting Israel at DePaul.” Lately he was asked (on a WBEZ Worldwide interview) what “AIPAC trained” means. Erickson sidestepped.

“We really want to help the Palestinians and we should be supporting promoting their rights to self determination in the peace process…I really wish there was a truly pro-Palestinian voice on campus rather than just an anti Israel voice.”

Uh huh.  That hasbara is never going to work, no matter how many trainings student leaders attend. The political climate has changed and we’re seeing a new wave sweeping campuses across the country.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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54 Responses

  1. Zach S
    May 21, 2014, 11:02 am

    Seeking to determine the outcome of future divestment initiatives on campuses across the country only through influencing student leaders, as opposed to directly approaching the entire student body”

    Oh, the hypocrisy. BDS’ core strategy for the past decade has involved going around the backs of the student body as a whole, sneaking in divestment resolutions in the dead of night when most students aren’t aware of it and can’t speak out against it. Hampshire, Cornell, UCSA, UCLA, the list goes on and on and on. Because they know it’s a lot easier to convince 11 students to sign off on divestment than 11,000.

    But I get it. When Zionists lobby students leaders in pursuit of their political agenda, that’s bad. But when you do it, it’s supporting human rights and justice.

    You could at least try and show a little bit of consistency, Annie. It might actually help your cause.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 21, 2014, 11:17 am

      i’m very consistent zack, “sneaking in divestment resolutions in the dead of night” is a lie, not my view, nor does it represent reality. it was on the agenda of the meeting and publicly posted by the student government.

      • DaBakr
        May 22, 2014, 1:46 am

        on the agenda like fine print on a sleazy used car dealers sticker that nobody reads and of course-when anti-bds groups do find out and come out en masse-its just another ‘sneaky dirty trick by the AIPAC/ADL groups. i think its safe to say that trick is now old hat and the pro-Israeli groups are more on the up-and-up as far as bds student props go.

      • Shingo
        May 22, 2014, 5:32 pm

        No anti-bds groups came out en masse- it was vetoed, which would not have been necessary had anti-bds groups came out en masse and voted against it.

        It’s pure projection on your part to suggest that trick is now old hat, because as the AIPAC bobble head in this video admits, this is what pro-Israeli groups have always done.

        Pro Israelis has no legitimate way to tackle BDS, so they resort to the only way they kow how, brute force – and that’s only going to make it worse for them in end.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 22, 2014, 6:28 pm

        they resort to the only way they kow how, brute force

        sometimes they lie and deceive. i linked to an article (see above “spread malicious rumors” embed) describing how they just make crap up out of the blue. i spoke with leila and she told me all the fake stuff they’ve been saying. or you can hear it some of it yourself on the radio interview i link to twice in the article (it is a good interview). i cracked up the way the demon pac guy just brushed right over the interviewees question asking him what it means to be “AIPAC traned”, he didn’t want to go there!

        plus, he accuses the other side of playing rhetorical games and then completely depends on worn out talking pts, like “it’s an insult to south africans to compare it to apartheid, when it’s documented that line comes straight out of a hasbara conference!

  2. Zach S
    May 21, 2014, 11:05 am

    As if to prove my point, here’s a “stealth resolution” at University of New Mexico:

    link to newmexico.watchdog.org

    And that article describes what happened at Loyola:

    “In March the Unified Student Government Association of Chicago’s Loyola University passed a resolution by a 26-0 margin calling for the institution to divest from companies that do business in Israel. That bill was later brought back for a second vote due to the lack of opportunity for those with opposing viewpoints to attend the original meeting. The measure passed this time 12-10 with nine abstentions. The next day it was vetoed by the organization president.

    Was BDS directly approaching the entire student body at either of these two schools? Sure doesn’t look that way.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 21, 2014, 11:20 am

      As if to prove my point,

      oh, what a coincidence! the campus watch site which lies proves your point!

      from your link:
      The measure passed this time 12-10 with nine abstentions. The next day it was vetoed by the organization president.

      classy/ not. now whose point is proven?

      There were no opposition that attended the meeting, though the meeting was public and the agenda had been posted a week prior.

      the agendas for these meetings are posted publicly by the student body government. all schedules are disclosed. maybe if stand with us bothered to keep up w/the agendas, they would be so ‘shocked’ and unprepared for the student initiatives.

      link to electronicintifada.net

      • Zach S
        May 21, 2014, 12:09 pm

        Annie, are you denying that the events at New Mexico transpired exactly as the article said, or are you simply muddying the waters by attacking teh source?

        classy/ not. now whose point is proven?

        Annie, you either respect democracy or you don’t. If you want your BDS resolutions to carry any kind of weight at all, they must be carried out through the democratic systems at place in the schools where they are presented. The university president is allowed to veto resolutions at Loyola, and you have to deal with it when it doesn’t go your way. That’s how democracy works. And I was under the impression that if there is one thing BDS loves, it’s democracy.

        And clearly at Loyola one week of posting on a study government website that most students don’t read was not enough to ensure that the student government representatives heard the diversity of opinions on the issue.

        The point is that at Loyola (among many other examples) students who advocated for BDS clearly did not try to engage the general population of students and instead went behind their backs directly for the student government. This is behavior for which you criticized Zionists at the beginning of this conversation. I call that hypocrisy.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2014, 12:42 pm

        Annie, are you denying that the events at New Mexico transpired exactly as the article said

        yes, obviously i am denying that events transpired as your campus watch article says and i posted a link refutung the information. as i mentioned before it is a matter of course for the student govs to post their agendas. the meeting was packed, stand with us just wasn’t paying attention to the gov student council agenda until it was too late, so they whine and moan. what else is new?

        but what difference does it make? just like berkeley they got the student president to reverse the vote.

        i think you’re spamming the thread. that’s it for discussing new mexico with you. the dirty tricks there, having the president reverse the vote, means essentially all the lobby thinks they have to do is own the college presidents which is what they are bragging about in their video, taking over the student governments. this is why the pledges and ballot measures are so important.

        and even if they lose on a ballot measure, it offers the opportunity, potentially, to involve and expose many many more students. we believe truth will prevail. we believe when students are informed they will chose to be on the side of justice. this is what is so empowering about these initiatives.

      • Zach S
        May 21, 2014, 12:58 pm

        Annie, your link didn’t refute the information, it merely expanded upon it. A meeting was held, and BDS was passed unanimously. People complained they didn’t get a chance to speak out against it, so another meeting was held. BDS passed by a much smaller margin at the second meeting, and was then vetoed. Which part of that do you dispute?

        By the way, we’re talking about Loyola, not New Mexico. Read the article again.

        the dirty tricks there, having the president reverse the vote, means essentially all the lobby thinks they have to do is own the college presidents …

        Again, sounds like BDS. Two sides of the same coin if you ask me.

        we believe when students are informed they will chose to be on the side of justice

        Yes, that must be why BDS does everything possible to ensure that students don’t know about the BDS votes before they happen. Bit of a disconnect there.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2014, 1:28 pm

        zack, you started off claiming a “core” BDS’ strategy was “going around the backs of the student body as a whole, sneaking in divestment resolutions in the dead of night”. your link opened with 4 paragraphs about UNM and i showed evidence the notice had been posted for a week. one university does not a “core” bds strategy make. not when the overwhelming evidence suggests, which includes dozens and dozens of posts on this site as evidence, that SJP students and their allies have been working their butts of informing student bodies and the public about israel’s apartheid state and shedding boatloads of light and exposure on the issue all across the country. try addressing the article i have written given the events occurring on both these campuses right now. obviously this does not support your contention. did you even open the link : link to facebook.com

        you can take your ‘core BDS strategy’ allegation and shove it. good bye!

      • Citizen
        May 22, 2014, 9:49 pm

        Reminds me of the DNC on prime time TV, when the yays and nays were equally heard on the Jerusalem amendment platform question, and the guy with the hammer decided the issue–after prompting by some woman who came out of the wings.

      • Shingo
        May 21, 2014, 5:45 pm

        If you want your BDS resolutions to carry any kind of weight at all, they must be carried out through the democratic systems at place in the schools where they are presented.

        Most bills in Congress are passed without any such democratic process, especially those authored by AIPAC. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the motion was not passed democratically.

        The university president is allowed to veto resolutions at Loyola, and you have to deal with it when it doesn’t go your way.

        Which is clearly not a democratic process, but one you are happy with. In other words, you expect those who support BDS to to deal with a vote or outcome that doesn’t go their way, but when it does, you squeal that it’s unfair or undemocratic.

        And clearly at Loyola one week of posting on a study government website that most students don’t read was not enough to ensure that the student government representatives heard the diversity of opinions on the issue.

        So first you claim that the vote was held in secret. Then when Annie debunks you claim, you then argue that it wasn’t sufficiently advertised or blame the fact that some students are too lazy to read the bulletins on the pro BDS supporters.

        The point is that at Loyola (among many other examples) students who advocated for BDS clearly did not try to engage the general population of students

        No, the truth is that the vote did not go your way, so rather than deal with it you are trying to argue that there was some conspiracy or effort on the part of the advocated of BDS to go behind the backs of student – even though the evidence proves otherwise.

        You’re simply being caught in your own lies.

      • Zach S
        May 22, 2014, 9:05 am

        Hi Shingo:

        Most bills in Congress are passed without any such democratic process, especially those authored by AIPAC. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the motion was not passed democratically.

        We’re not talking about Congress, and I didn’t say that the motion was not passed democratically. Annie was whining that the President of Loyola’s SG vetoed it, and I pointed out that she must respect the way democracy works there.

        Which is clearly not a democratic process

        That’s your opinion. Clearly the Student Government at Loyola doesn’t agree.

        you expect those who support BDS to to deal with a vote or outcome that doesn’t go their way, but when it does, you squeal that it’s unfair or undemocratic.

        No squealing here, if a vote is carried out democratically and fairly then it should hold whatever weight assigned to it no matter what the results. Do you agree?

        So first you claim that the vote was held in secret.

        I claimed no such thing. You have a bad habit of putting words in other people’s mouths. The vote was not held in secret, but it also wasn’t made public knowledge either. BDS attempted to circumvent the study body as a whole and went directly to the student government, the exact same behavior Annie was accusing Zionists of doing. The facts of the case clearly show that I am correct about this.

        that there was some conspiracy or effort on the part of the advocated of BDS to go behind the backs of student – even though the evidence proves otherwise.

        Actually the evidence proves me correct. Go back and read the articles again if you’re still confused.

      • Shingo
        May 22, 2014, 5:29 pm

        We’re not talking about Congress, and I didn’t say that the motion was not passed democratically.

        yes you did. You stated that ‘If you want your BDS resolutions to carry any kind of weight at all, they must be carried out through the democratic systems at place in the schools where they are presented.’ , so clearly, you imply this was not done democratically.

        Annie was whining that the President of Loyola’s SG vetoed it, and I pointed out that she must respect the way democracy works there.

        Vetoes are not democratic as they seek to limit democratic rights.

        That’s your opinion. Clearly the Student Government at Loyola doesn’t agree.

        The Student Government at Loyola would not argue that a veto is democratic, but that they feel it is necessary to curtail the rights of students.

        No squealing here, if a vote is carried out democratically and fairly then it should hold whatever weight assigned to it no matter what the results. Do you agree?

        A vote was held democratically and fairly but you tried to suggest is took place behind the backs of students. So yes, you were squealing.

        I claimed no such thing. You have a bad habit of putting words in other people’s mouths.

        Stop lying. You claimed that the vote was held behind student’s backs. And yes, it was made public knowledge. They did so by posting on a government website.

        So you are wrong about the facts and lied when you claimed that BDS attempted to circumvent the study body as a whole and went directly to the student government.

      • Zach S
        May 23, 2014, 8:58 am

        Hi Shingo, I’m glad that you don’t dispute that your introducing of Congress and AIPAC was a non sequiter.

        , so clearly, you imply this was not done democratically….

        No, they were done democratically. Annie said that the veto was not “classy,” and I reminded her that vetoes are part of the democratic process at Loyola. If she wants her BDS resolutions to actually matter they must be carried through the legal processes at the school. Circumventing those processes would make the resolutions meaningless.

        Vetoes are not democratic as they seek to limit democratic rights.

        That’s your opinion. Clearly the Student Government at Loyola doesn’t agree. I respectfully invite you to deal with it.

        (BTW the Student Government held a vote to override the veto but didn’t have the 2/3rds majority they needed to do so.)

        A vote was held democratically and fairly but you tried to suggest is took place behind the backs of students.

        Because it was. Just ask the students there.

        Stop lying. You claimed that the vote was held behind student’s backs.

        And it was. There’s a difference between a ‘secret vote’ and one that is held without widespread public knowledge. No one kept the student body from finding out about it, but they didn’t go out of their way to tell them either. Hence, “behind the backs.” Read the articles again if you are still confused.

      • Shingo
        May 23, 2014, 10:01 am

        Hi Shingo, I’m glad that you don’t dispute that your introducing of Congress and AIPAC was a non sequiter.

        I suggest you look up the meaning of non sequiter before using big words you clearly do not understand.

        No, they were done democratically. Annie said that the veto was not “classy,” and I reminded her that vetoes are part of the democratic process at Loyola.

        The fact they are part of the process does not make them democratic.

        Circumventing those processes would make the resolutions meaningless.

        On the contrary. Relying on vetos to circumvent the vote proves that the process is undemocratic. It’s ironic that you claim the vote went behind the backs of students when the vote was overturned by a veto that completely negates the opinions of those who voted.

        That’s your opinion. Clearly the Student Government at Loyola doesn’t agree. I respectfully invite you to deal with it.

        False. The Student Government at Loyola has not made the case that a veto is democratic, so you are simply making that up. I respectfully invite you to stick to what you know and can prove and refrain from making assumptions.

        Because it was. Just ask the students there.

        No it was not, and you never asked the students there.

        And it was. There’s a difference between a ‘secret vote’ and one that is held without widespread public knowledge.

        There was widespread public knowledge. The student body is not obliges to go out of their way to hand hold students. They have a responsibility to keep themselves informed and the information was available to all student, so clearly there is no suggestion that anyone went “behind the backs.”

        Read the articles again if you are still confused. And please educate yourself.

    • oneof5
      May 21, 2014, 1:14 pm

      Junior Hasbara-cuda (not genius) thinks that getting a (supposedly) professional “journalist” to act as a stenographer and repeat SWU’s false narrative somehow adds “credibility” and must mean it’s “the truth”:

      “Was BDS directly approaching the entire student body at either of these two schools? Sure doesn’t look that way.”

      The answer to that question is contained in the link that Ms. Fofani so graciously provided to you in her reply.

  3. HarryLaw
    May 21, 2014, 11:22 am

    UCLA’s chancellor Gene Block put out a statement after the fact, claiming the pledge “sought to delegitimize educational trips. The Haaretz link to this story has a good first reader comment, .. these are not educational trips, they are brainwashing trips, if they were educational they would include trips to the occupied territories to see how the Palestinians are treated, these so called educational trips are totally one sided and it is disgusting that the Chancellor has the gall to call them educational.

  4. Elisabeth
    May 21, 2014, 1:25 pm

    Students in the US seem much more politically active (both to the right and to the left) than present-day students in the Netherlands. What is you opinion of German students German Lefty?

    • Citizen
      May 22, 2014, 9:55 pm

      Do you mean, are there any White Rose type students in Germany? Maybe German Lefty can answer?

  5. ThorsteinVeblen2012
    May 21, 2014, 2:24 pm

    Bringing this fight to the university campuses of America is going to be a longterm loss for Zionism.

    The idealism of youth is going to be exposed upfront to AIPAC’s hardball tactics and be repulsed. It won’t bode well for the future of AIPAC supported candidates.

    Among liberals I perceive that Zionist Democrats will be seen in the future as the Dixiecrats were in the past.

    • thetruthhurts
      May 21, 2014, 8:36 pm

      it has been my long term passionate hope that one day in universities all across the country, and indeed the world, there will be huge mass demonstrations, just like in the protesting of the vietnam war, against the international pariah israel.

      • thetruthhurts
        May 21, 2014, 8:41 pm

        against
        but i do have a concern in the present situation. outside of the jewish peace groups, i see no presence from white christian mainstream student groups, it seems overwhelmingly people of color who are behind the bds movement. this is dissappointing. it seems they are still too brainwashed or they just don’t care.
        yet

      • Annie Robbins
        May 21, 2014, 9:56 pm

        what kind of “white christian mainstream student groups” are you talking about? there are definitely white people represented in the movement on campuses who are not jewish if that’s what you mean.

      • LeaNder
        May 22, 2014, 10:04 am

        against the international pariah israel

        As far as I know, Christians aren’t necessarily only white either, just as with the exception of the “brainwashed” evangelicals, they do not feel inactive on the larger topic.

        But concerning me, I do actually have a Christian background, I wouldn’t join any group that uses slogans like: international pariah. … or implicitly divides people into black, brown and white. Yellow? Olive?

      • Annie Robbins
        May 23, 2014, 7:24 am

        I wouldn’t join any group that uses slogans like: international pariah

        like democrats? AP:

        Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry slammed the foreign policy of the Bush administration on Saturday, saying it has caused the United States to become “a sort of international pariah.”

        truthhurts: it seems overwhelmingly people of color who are behind the bds movement.

        well, it is a palestinian led movement. why should this surprise you? it seems overwhelmingly people of color were behind the civil rights movement too. is there a problem with that?

        colonization, historically, has disproportionately impacted people of color. so it makes all the sense in the world an anti colonization anti apartheid movement would be embraced and led by people of a variety of backgrounds-not necessarily white.

        i think i am failing to see your point. who cares? or why should i care? i guess i never really considered my skin color as being relevant to my activism in this movement.

      • bilal a
        May 22, 2014, 5:14 am

        why single out Israel, it is merely the vanguard of the western EU-NATO ‘liberal’ sickness:

        “Now, unfortunately, the dominant “progressive” strain in the West has largely abandoned an anticolonial stance. The world is no longer viewed through the lens of the far from finished anticolonial struggle but through the dubious categories of “human rights” and “real, true democracy.” The likes of Pussy Riot have replaced Mao in the eyes of the Western “progressives.” And all too many progressives, Juan Cole and Amy Goodman among them, for example, cheered for the Obama/Hillary war on Libya as Gaddafi was crushed. It went unmentioned in such “progressive” circles that Gaddafi gave Libya the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa, stood in the forefront of the struggle against U.S.-backed Apartheid, both in South Africa and Israel, and advocated a Pan-Arabism and Pan-Africanism that would make for independence from the West.”
        link to unz.com

  6. Pixel
    May 21, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Speaking of youth, I follow a website, TheVerge.com, which was recommended to me by a young guy I know. Most of the writers and readers there seem to be young tech geeks.

    From their “About” page: The Verge was founded in 2011 in partnership with Vox Media, and covers the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture. Its mission is to offer in-depth reporting and long-form feature stories, breaking news coverage, product information, and community content in a unified and cohesive manner. The site is powered by Vox Media’s Chorus platform, a modern media stack built for web-native news in the 21st century.

    So, wasn’t I surprised, yesterday, to run across this feature:

    Conflict bubbles: inside SodaStream’s occupied territory factory :: How Scarlett Johansson and homemade seltzer became an international symbol for the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank
    By Peter Savodnik on May 20, 2014 12:33 pm

  7. Ron Edwards
    May 21, 2014, 3:07 pm

    [DePaul] It’s quite exciting here! Some great footage from today should be available soon. Students stayed at the SAC pit (yes, I know, funny name) until after 10 PM last night, and at every event so far, the atmosphere has been festive and unapologetic, a real *demonstration* that invites questions and participation. By contrast, the counter-protest seems sullen and off-putting, relying heavily on nationalism, “loyalty” to Israel.

  8. Kay24
    May 21, 2014, 10:27 pm

    Finally our campuses are beginning to wake up and do what the European colleges have been doing, calling for boycotts and bringing attention to the plight of the Palestinian people. Good luck, hope this huge effort, will bring success to all the students. That is one huge flag!

  9. Citizen
    May 21, 2014, 11:27 pm

    Just a question, is Palestine solidarity going soft? Your thoughts?
    link to veteranstoday.com

  10. Philip Munger
    May 22, 2014, 12:37 am

    If people like Zach S are frantic now, wait until late September, when the extent of this being an incredible watershed year on campuses becomes even more evident. Hang in there, Zach. You may yet learn some good lessons that you can pass on to your children. Just put a new Tibetan prayer flag up on my deck overlooking the Talkeetna Mountains, in hope that you might see the light.

    link to facebook.com

  11. DaBakr
    May 22, 2014, 1:13 am

    A: The pre-election pledge thing wouldn’t stand up in US courts anymore then forcing politicians who run for president to not make campaign promises.

    B: I understand all the excitement from BDS supporters. I understand that believing fully in the idea that the “tide is turning” is how energy levels can be maintained and a positive attitude is preferable to dismay. But its still very premature to predict any such ‘coming success’. If UW’s 56-8 is any indication….

    C. to the poster calling zach ‘dumb’ or not smart is lowballing a kid just fopr pointing out a political reality. While Annie sees an AIPAC /ADL conspiracy behind every door she turns an eye or gives a wink or just doesn’t see similar political activity on the BDS side as the same. But thats the difference between being a PR flack, a propagandist and an actual journalist. Journalists don’t have an axe to grind -or if they do-the public is not supposed to be aware. And I nave said it before and I’ll say it again-if annie is anything-she is a great Palestinian hasbarist and I believe that like ‘chutzpah’ and mensch that a great word like ‘hasbara’ should not be restricted to referencing Israel but should be universal in usage as it means exactly what MW and Annie are all about. A good VERSION of events for their blog that they think promote the truth as they see it.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 22, 2014, 3:06 am

      A: The pre-election pledge thing wouldn’t stand up in US courts anymore then forcing politicians who run for president to not make campaign promises.

      cough..no one forced the students to take the pledge tho. i’ll just stop there for now. wouldn’t want to chew you up and spit you out so publicly. unless provoked. ;) iow, try harder, let it all hang out.

      • DaBakr
        May 22, 2014, 12:33 pm

        no one is “forced” but you won’t mind if it works like some kind of scarlet letter. I am against all such ‘pledges’ wether they be for pro-BDS or pro-Israel. Its extreme and very likely to get out of control. Like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But if it must be suffered then the BDS should have to pledge equally to accept no funding, training or other support from international/national bds groups. Dumb, but fair.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 22, 2014, 7:49 pm

        I am against all such ‘pledges’ wether they be for pro-BDS or pro-Israel.

        it’s already out of control. for example, when biden freaked out after the is gov announced settlement expansion aipac sent out a letter all the congresscritters were supposed to sign saying we should be nice to israel or some such crap and they all dutifully signed, or else.

        don’t play games. and note how anyone running for office has to declare over and over how much they love israel? wtf,

        if it must be suffered then the BDS should have to pledge equally to accept no funding, training or other support from international/national bds groups.

        sure, let everyone put their cards on the table. why not? people should know what and who they are voting for. as far as i know bds doesn’t fund student campus groups tho. by all means, let me know if you’ve heard otherwise.

      • Annie Robbins
        May 23, 2014, 7:54 am

        you won’t mind if it works like some kind of scarlet letter.

        supporting apartheid? no, i wouldn’t mind if it worked like some kind of scarlett letter.

      • kma
        May 22, 2014, 1:34 pm

        of course – it’s a voluntary pledge to put the interests of the STUDENTS who elected you above the interests of a foreign government that PAID you (in some cases, they even THREATEN student senators)….

        I want to see Annie spit him out!

    • Shingo
      May 22, 2014, 7:48 am

      While Annie sees an AIPAC /ADL conspiracy behind every door she turns an eye or gives a wink or just doesn’t see similar political activity on the BDS side as the same.

      What political activity are you referring to? Would you care to name on one member of Congress who is beholden to BDS the way they are to AIPAC?

      But thats the difference between being a PR flack, a propagandist and an actual journalist.

      As if you would know the difference.

      Journalists don’t have an axe to grind -or if they do-the public is not supposed to be aware.

      Name one journalist that does not have an axe to grind. A journalist without an axe to grind is a journalist who has no pulse. You’re pathetic contortions are seen as nothing more than projection.

      • Citizen
        May 22, 2014, 10:05 pm

        Hey, there’s no pro-Israel lobby in America. Just ask the hasbara agents here.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 23, 2014, 6:33 am

      Journalists don’t have an axe to grind -or if they do-the public is not supposed to be aware.

      triple yawn.

  12. StCuthbert
    May 22, 2014, 8:46 am

    I hope if these resolution fails, the students will not lose faith or give up the fight. I encourage them to continue pursuing BDS by finding books in the library by Israeli authors and burning them, for example, or making sure the Israeli point of view is not taught in history courses by protesting the professor lecturing. There is so much more we could all be doing for Palestine.

    • Annie Robbins
      May 22, 2014, 6:31 pm

      lol, something tells me the movement won’t be conducting too many book burnings in the near future! don’t hold your breath for that strategy.

      making sure the Israeli point of view is not taught in history courses by protesting the professor lecturing.

      taking a page out of david horowitz’s book eh?

  13. NickJOCW
    May 22, 2014, 1:34 pm

    I don’t know about trips to Israel but this overt and ugly outside interference in students’ freedom to debate and act on moral issues should prove highly educational.

    • Kay24
      May 22, 2014, 6:53 pm

      It seems the evil empire has slithered into our colleges too. We are really under an occupation, from the congress, media, think tanks, businesses, and even colleges.
      What next, brainwashing, and controlling, high school and middle school kids?

      • Citizen
        May 22, 2014, 10:08 pm

        Luckily, we have a few bright stars of humanity like Snowden, Blumenthal, and the Code Pink women.

  14. Annie Robbins
    May 23, 2014, 5:59 pm

    YEAH!!! it passed! go DePaul! link to sga.depaul.edu

    • Pixel
      May 23, 2014, 6:31 pm

      Yeah, it passed, immediately followed by this message from Depaul’s President that was just forwarded to me:

      Dated: May 23, 2014

      Dear DePaul Community,

      On May 28, I will celebrate 25 years as a priest. For the past ten years, I have been particularly blessed to work among you, and I thank God for this opportunity every morning.

      The great irony is that I am spending my 25th anniversary in Israel and the Palestinian territories, following the footsteps of Jesus Christ and visiting the many towns in which He lived and worked. This trip was scheduled long ago, and is unrelated to the current divestment question that has been debated on campus recently. But the irony that I am writing you from these holy and contested lands while responding to this student initiative is remarkable.

      In preparation for my trip, I read Ari Shavit’s recent book “My Promised Land,” a book I recommend to you highly. It’s written by a man very proud of his family’s role in constructing a home for the diaspora Jews, and yet worried for the manner in which the country has drawn its boundaries and shaped its policy. His inner self wrestles with the current state of affairs; he sees no easy resolution and yet recognizes that a resolution is dearly needed by all.

      I will leave the rest of the book to your discovery. I mention it because of the extraordinary way he holds within himself the complex concerns that so trouble this region of the world. Universities are much the same, for they are frequently places where conflicts troubling other peoples and parts of the world find local resonance. They exist in the very public crossroads of intellectual debate and social change, and we should never be surprised when we find ourselves considering these issues and how they shape our own policies, no matter how seemingly distant we are from the heart of the matter.

      Here at DePaul, the conflict has taken a rather specific turn. Students have asked questions about our investments. These are the scholarship funds that generate earnings that can then be distributed to students to help them afford their education. Our students rely on these funds a great deal. In 2008, when the markets dropped precipitously, DePaul had less to give to students and, tragically, some students had to leave the university while others could not accept our admission invitations.

      The student referendum (which passed earlier today 1,575 to 1,333) asked DePaul to reassign its investments away from a list of businesses the organizers perceive are assisting Israel’s strategic agenda. The request is problematic in a number of ways. First, of course, is because the political standoff at the root of this matter is deeply complicated. Neither side presently sees it is in its interest to accept the proposed compromises, and few within the U.S. foreign policy community consider a solution imminent.

      The question is also complicated because, unlike universities with larger and more complex endowments, DePaul does not manage holdings in individual stocks. We use mutual funds, commingled trusts and investment managers, who, at their independent discretion, compile large assemblages of stocks in order to provide a more predictable return. These instruments contain stocks of hundreds or thousands of companies, which can change by the hour.

      Some universities have turned in recent years toward a philosophy of socially-responsible investing. It is a simple concept — namely that an institution requires its managers to avoid purchasing stocks in companies that engage in business that defies some subjective criteria. It is not so simple in practice, however. What is socially responsible to one organization or set of interests may be objectionable to another. Even within an organization like DePaul, individuals may have differing conceptions of what is considered “socially responsible.” Assuming that we could come to consensus, the extent of a specific company’s involvement in a controversial matter may be tenuous at best, especially in cases where conglomerates consist of many companies, where only one small company in its portfolio may be of concern. The investment committee of DePaul’s board of trustees periodically looks at the current state of socially-responsible investing, and is scheduled to do so again next year. To date, the committee has found it, in practice, to be of questionable value, even if the purposes are laudable.

      As for this specific referendum, I have previously made clear that university policy is not set by referendum and that the Fair Business Practices Committee is the appropriate university body to study and make a recommendation on this issue. I will recommend it to their fall agenda. This committee was established in 2000 and consists of faculty, staff and student representatives. I therefore encourage supporters of the referendum to present their case to the committee and encourage all other interested parties to do the same.

      I am always proud when DePaul’s students take a personal interest in foreign affairs, for they know that issues that seem so very distant are not, in fact, all that distant in a globalized world. I respect those who stood outside the student center encouraging students to vote or who organized opportunities for others to learn more and discuss the issues dividing the Palestinian and Israeli people. I particularly respect those who did so with civility and kindness.

      As I write, Pope Francis is expected here in Jerusalem this weekend. For the first time, the official papal delegation consists not of a pope alone, but a pope, an imam and a rabbi. As Pope Francis yet again sets aside convention and protocol in favor of actions that will unite a human community, I pray that all of us at DePaul will do the same. Thank you for advocating deeply for the needs of the communities you hold dear, and thank you for doing so with respect and the intent to find our way to a more peaceful world together.

      God bless you.

      Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M.
      President

  15. Ron Edwards
    May 23, 2014, 6:32 pm

    YES. I’m one of the faculty advisors to SJP DePaul, and it has been a long hard road. The credit belongs to the students, who have organized so many great things over the years and also learned from the appalling obstacles they’ve encountered – the whole week has been fantastic.

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