The push to garner campus endorsements of calls to divest from Israeli occupation-linked corporations scored another success this week when the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) student government voted in favor of a resolution authored by the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP).
By a vote of 22-14, the UCSC Student Union Assembly (SUA) endorsed a resolution urging the University of California to divest from companies that “profit from and/or support many of Israel’s ongoing human rights violations.” The vote made Santa Cruz the fifth UC chapter to endorse divestment in recent years.
The clear majority in favor of divestment surprised members of CJP. Last year, a similar divestment resolution was voted down 17-19. And some officers of the student government have gone on free trips to Israel sponsored by organizations that vehemently oppose divestment, a practice that has become a contentious issue on UC campuses.
In a press release, CJP laid out what happened at the student government meeting:
While official discussion of the Divestment Bill was scheduled at 11PM, a SUA member motioned at approximately 8:15 to indefinitely table the bill. The motion failed. After addressing the Graduate Student Association’s appeals to condemn administrative intimidation efforts towards students in the April strike, as well as the Compassionate University Resolution and SUA budget, the Divestment testimonials were initiated at 11:30 PM.
Following the three hour debate, the first SUA vote on the resolution revealed widespread support for Divestment landing just shy of the necessary two-thirds majority. SUA representatives then voted to suspend the SUA bylaw dictating a two-thirds majority, instead requiring only a simple majority vote to pass the resolution.
The divestment resolution was supported by a wide coalition of student groups, including the Muslim Student Association, the Queer Student Union, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), a Chicano student group.
The resolution was opposed by groups like the AMCHA Initiative, a right-wing Zionist organization known for attacking professors who speak out on Palestine and criticize Israel.
— The AMCHA Initiative (@AMCHAInitiative) May 27, 2014
The AMCHA Initiative is run by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a Hebrew lecturer at UCSC. Last year, she came under fire for claiming that Palestine solidarity activists on campus were linked to terrorist groups.
In January, the Electronic Intifada‘s Nora Barrows-Friedman and Asa Winstanley revealed that a Santa Cruz student working with Benjamin had monitored students during a delegation to Israel/Palestine. The AMCHA Initiative compiled the information the student gathered into a report that paid particular attention to those sympathetic to Palestinians.