Final Version of UC Berkeley’s 2013 Divestment Bill

SB 160: A Bill In Support of Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

Authored By Senator George Kadifa. Sponsored By Senator Sadia Saifuddin and Senator George Kadifa. Passed by UC Berkeley’s ASUC senate on 4/18/2013. Amended and approved by the Judicial Council on 5/26/2013.

WHEREAS, UC Berkeley’s “Principles of Community” are intended to serve “as a guide for our personal and collective behavior, both on campus and as we serve society [1];” and,

WHEREAS, as outlined in UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community “we (UC Berkeley) believe that active participation and leadership in addressing the most pressing issues facing our local and global communities are central to our educational mission [1];” and,

WHEREAS, as further outlined in UC Berkeley’s Principles of Community, it is UC Berkeley’s duty to maintain the values of “honesty, integrity, diversity, and excellence” and “strive to uphold a just community in which discrimination and hate are not tolerated [1];” and,

WHEREAS, UC students have a legacy of standing against oppression and injustice at UC Berkeley and across the U.S.; and,

WHEREAS, the role of student activists in exposing South Africa’s apartheid system and supporting equality, freedom, and dignity sets an example for us to follow as students of global conscience; and,

WHEREAS, as the example of South Africa shows, it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and the anti-Palestinian discrimination practiced under Israel’s system of illegal occupation in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem; and,

WHEREAS, the Occupied Palestinian Territories are controlled militarily by the Israeli government [2]; and,

WHEREAS, Israeli government violations of human rights and international law have been recognized and condemned by the international community including by the UN General Assembly in dozens of resolutions (i.e.,259, 316, 446, 452, 465, 468-469, 471, 476, 592, 605, 607, 608, 636, 641, 672, 673, 681, 694, 726, 799, etc.); by the UN Security Council; by the International Court of Justice’s 2004 Advisory Opinion on the Route of the Separation Barrier in the West Bank; and by the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza, among others; and,

WHEREAS, certain companies have promoted and been complicit in many of the ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government, which have been documented by human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Defence for Children International, B’tselem, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions; and,

WHEREAS, these ongoing human rights violations and violations of international law are recognized to include the following; and,

WHEREAS, according to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) 2004 ruling, the creation and use of the Separation Wall to expropriate Palestinian lands is illegal under international law [3]; and,

WHEREAS, according to the same ICJ decision, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is also illegal under international law[4]; and,

WHEREAS, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN GA ES-10/6, and other UN resolutions, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is in violation of international law [5]; and,

WHEREAS, according to US policy, “the legitimacy of continued settlement activity” has not been accepted by any US administration, and, as recently as December, the Obama administration chose to “reiterate our long standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity”[6]; and,

WHEREAS, according to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, “the Occupied Palestinian Territory [is] of special concern to the international community” because “the international community, speaking through the United Nations, has identified three regimes as inimical to human rights - colonialism, apartheid and foreign occupation. Numerous resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations testify to this. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem contains elements of all three of these regimes” [6.5]; and,

WHEREAS, Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian rights to property, freedom of movement, due process, freedom of assembly, freedom from discrimination, and other basic rights enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, have been further delineated via extensive documentation by respected human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’tselem; and,

WHEREAS, our university invests in, and thereby profits from, companies that have an active role in materially aiding Israel’s illegal occupation and the resulting human rights abuses, thereby making it a complicit third-party; and,

WHEREAS, among others, these investments include $5,390,073 in investments in Caterpillar Incorporated, $7,477,533 in investments in Cement Roadstone Holdings, and $2,042,208 in investments in Hewlett Packard according to the most recent UC Retirement Program and UC General Endowment Fund annual holdings reports available on the official Treasurer of the Regents website [6.7]; and,

WHEREAS, Caterpillar, an American company, has helped sustain the illegal occupation by providing bulldozers and engineering tools used to destroy Palestinian homes and farmland, expand illegal Jewish-only settlements on the confiscated Palestinian land, and assault refugee camps in violation of international humanitarian law, as documented by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch [8-9]; and,

WHEREAS, Cement Roadstone Holding (CRH), an Irish company, has contributed to Israel’s illegal occupation through its partial ownership in Mashav, the distributor of Liebherr earth-moving and heavy construction equipment used in illegal settlement and Separation Wall construction, and is the supplier of cement and other building materials used in the construction of the Separation Wall and settlement infrastructure [10]; and

WHEREAS, Hewlett Packard has been approached by faith leaders and human rights groups via letters, conference calls, e-mails, face-to-face meetings and shareholder resolutions regarding the use of its products in the infrastructure of Israel’s occupation and violation of Palestinian freedom of movement; and,

WHEREAS, these companies have chosen to disregard these entreaties to be more socially responsible corporate actors and have instead knowingly continued to sell their products to the Israeli military as it violates international law and Palestinian human rights through its illegal occupation; and,

WHEREAS, UCB students enjoy peace of mind knowing that their university is barred by federal law from making investments that aid Palestinian militant organizations which engage in attacks that threaten the human rights of Israeli students and their families; and,

WHEREAS UCB students are not able to enjoy the same peace of mind with respect to investments that threaten the human rights of Palestinian students and their families as our university profits from the human rights abuses visited  upon these students and their families in the course of Israel’s illegal occupation; and,

WHEREAS, any attack directed at Israeli, Palestinian, or any other civilians is unacceptable; and,

WHEREAS, the University of California does not currently take a neutral position on the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, as it is invested in such companies profiting from the violation of Palestinian human rights; and,

WHEREAS, the ASUC has a long tradition of pursuing socially responsible investment in other areas, targeting South African apartheid, removing funds from Sudan over the conflict in Darfur, unanimously supporting divestment from fossil fuel producers, and most recently endorsing a proposal to divest from the prison-industrial complex; and,

WHEREAS, the UC Regents have similarly established a record of ethical divestment, including divesting from South Africa under apartheid, Sudan over the conflict in Darfur, and, most recently, from the firearms manufacturer Bushmaster; and,

WHEREAS, pension fund giant TIAA-CREF removed $72,943,861 worth of Caterpillar shares from its Social Choice Funds portfolio in June 2012, after a sustained campaign spearheaded by Jewish Voice for Peace and other collaborating organizations, asking TIAA-CREF to remove its investments in Caterpillar and other companies that profit from and materially support Israel’s illegal occupation [14]; and,

WHEREAS, on November 13th, 2012, the Associated Students at UCI passed a resolution, “Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid,” by a unanimous vote; and,

WHEREAS, on March 14, 2013, the Associated Students at UCSD passed a resolution, “Resolution in Support of University of California San Diego Corporate Accountability through Divestment from Corporations Profiting from the Illegal Occupation, Siege, and Blockade of Palestine;” and,

WHEREAS, as American residents, our tax dollars go to providing Israel an average of $3.1 billion in military aid annually, helping to make Israel the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign military assistance since World War II, creating a special responsibility among Americans for Israel’s illegal military occupation; and, [15]

WHEREAS, while agreeing with the tactic of targeted, specific divestment, linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky, who was involved in divestment from South African apartheid as well as the divestment from the Vietnam War, has pointed out that “U.S. support for Israel, which is decisive, is a fraction of U.S. crimes,” pointing out that the obligation to condemn out own governments support for the atrocities [16]; and

WHEREAS, political scientist, activist, and author Norman Finkelstein has pointed out that “the settlements are illegal…East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory… the West Bank and Gaza are occupied Palestinian territory…but it is also correct that Israel is a state…if you want to use the law as a weapon or as leverage in order to reach the public opinion, you can’t be selective with the law…the law is a packaged deal [17];” and,

WHEREAS, the ASUC acknowledges the human rights violations committed by other states, particularly the United States of America, and makes a commitment to targeted, specific divestment from all human rights violations, with no discrimination based on what state is committing the atrocities; and,

WHEREAS, no part of this bill should be considered or misconstrued as support for any advocacy external to this bill; and

WHEREAS, the longstanding occupation has not only been characterized by Palestinian suffering, but by the loss of 129 Israeli minors killed since 2000, whose common humanity we acknowledge and whose deaths seriously impact members of our campus community, just as the deaths of 1,337 Palestinian minors killed since 2000 does; and

WHEREAS, we acknowledge the right to self determination of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples when done in a way that respects the equal rights of all people living in Israel and Palestine, maintaining a neutral position and endorsing neither a one state or two state solution; and

WHEREAS, both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to defend themselves against violence, but they should do so in a way that respects the human rights of civilians; and

WHEREAS, Besides supporting divestment from companies complicit in human rates violations, the BDS movement represents a wide range of views regarding larger scale solutions to peace in the Middle East. This particular bill is in no way endorsing any such views, particularly regarding a one-state vs. two-state solution. This is a far more complicated issue and not one that the ASUC is taking a stance on. Divestment is solely a tactic being used in support of justice and human rights, and should in no way be misconstrued as support for any other goals or beliefs related to the BDS movement and their leaders; and

WHEREAS, the BDS movement calls on a cultural and academic boycott, which hurts more people than just policymakers, is counterproductive to academic and cultural growth, and is an inherently different tactic than divesting from companies directly involved with human rights violations.[i][ii]; and

WHEREAS, newspapers that label this bill as divestment from Israel should be considered misleading as it does not seek to divest from the country as a whole and endorses no such action; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the ASUC should not be construed to support a significant portion of the BDS movement including but not limited to their call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel and the strong undertones essentially calling for a one state solution.[iii]; and,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the ASUC President author an open letter to the public explaining that this bill in no way divest from the state of Israel and should not be labeled as “Israeli divestment”; and,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that while the ASUC supports specific and targeted divestment from companies contributing to human rights violations, they also support international law stipulating Israel’s right to be a state [18] with equal rights for all its citizens; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ASUC will examine its assets and UC assets for funds being invested in companies that a) provide weaponry or other military support for the occupation of the Palestinian territories or b) facilitate the building or maintenance of the wall or the demolition of Palestinian homes, or c) facilitate the building, maintenance, or economic development of illegal Israeli settlements on the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the ASUC will instruct the managers of the Boston Trust to seek investment opportunities that strengthen Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in the pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the conflict; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the ASUC calls upon the EAVP to write a letter to Senators Feinstein and Boxer and Congresswoman Lee expressing this bill’s sentiments and encouraging them to publicly support the views espoused within, and to write a letter to the student governments of the other University of California campuses suggesting they adopt a similar resolution; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that if at any time it is found that campus or UC funds are being invested in any companies meeting any of these criteria, the ASUC will advocate that the UC system divest, all stocks and investments in such companies with the goal of maintaining the divestment, in the case of said companies, until they cease the specific offending practices; moreover, the ASUC will advocate that the UC system not make further investments, in any companies materially supporting or profiting from Israel’s occupation in the above mentioned ways, until a point in time at which they cease such practices; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that if at any time UC funds are found to be invested in companies profiting from organizations that target civilians be they Palestinian, Israeli or otherwise, the UC system should follow similar steps as outlined in the prior clause and divest those funds; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, the ASUC calls upon the EAVP to write a letter containing a copy of this resolution to other student governments throughout the UC system and recommend that they adopt a similar bill.

[1] http://www.berkeley.edu/about/principles.shtml

[2] http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories

[2.3] http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/E29F7195C53CDDA905256729005035E4

[3] http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&ca

[4] http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&ca

[5] http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/E29F7195C53CDDA905256729005035E4

[6] http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/06/166371.htm

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-slams-israel-new-settlement-plan

[6.5] http://electronicintifada.net/artman/uploads/a-hrc-4-17.pdf

[6.7] http://www.ucop.edu/treasurer/_files/invpol/UCRP_Holdings_12-31-11.pdf

http://www.ucop.edu/treasurer/_files/invpol/GEP_Holdings_12-31-11.pdf

[8] http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/033/2004/en/2193fae2-d5f6-11dd-bb24-1fb85fe8fa05/mde150332004en.pdf

http://www.hrw.org/print/reports/2004/10/17/razing-rafah

[9] http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/israel3/israel0502-01.htm

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/the-un-vs-caterpillar-1.125315

http://www.rabbisletter.org/caterpillar-tells-methodists-it-will-not-change-business-practices-relating-to-palestine/

[10] http://projectcleanhands.wordpress.com/2010/04/30/2009-project-clean-hands-report-crh/

http://www.whoprofits.org/company/cement-roadstone-holdings-crh

http://www.taavura.co.il/244.html

http://whoprofits.org/company/liebherr

[11] See 11.5,12 as well

http://wedivest.org/2012/06/activist-report-from-inside-the-caterpillar-shareholder-meeting/

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/033/2004/en/2193fae2-d5f6-11dd-bb24-1fb85fe8fa05/mde150332004en.pdf

http://www.whoprofits.org/company/cement-roadstone-holdings-crhhttp://whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/cemex_corporate_watch_may_2011.pdf

[11.5] http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/033/2004/en/2193fae2-d5f6-11dd-bb24-1fb85fe8fa05/mde150332004en.pdf

[12] http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2004/10/17/razing-rafah

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/the-un-vs-caterpillar-1.125315

http://www.pcusa.org/news/2010/7/6/committee-recommends-denouncing-caterpillar-action/

[13] http://www.cemnet.com/News/story/147836/amnesty-asks-crh-to-explain.html

[14] http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/msci-statement-on-caterpillar-key-factor-in-the-downgrade-was-on-going-controversy-associated-with-use-of-the-companys-equipment-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territories.html;  http://forward.com/articles/158433/israel-was-key-issue-in-caterpillar-dump/

[15] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[16] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5hY-gffV0M

[17] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O18xhTySKfM

[18] http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/lies-truth-article-1.1271323?pgno=1#ixzz2LzEtgezc

[19] http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

[i] http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/cultural-boycott

[ii] http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/academic-boycott

[iii] http://www.1948.org.uk/the-one-state-solution/

Show your support for UCSA!

Please sign our petition showing support for the UCSA in their condemnation of HR-35! Please sign here, and read the content of the petition below. We are at 1,000 signatures and counting!

We the undersigned students at the University of California write to thank and congratulate the University of California Students Association for passing its resolution against HR 35.

HR 35 is a highly controversial non-binding resolution passed through the California State Assembly over the summer. The bill inappropriately labels criticism of Israeli state policy anti-Semitic and recommends broad forms of censorship of students and faculty at the UC to prevent criticism of Israel. It has been opposed by civil rights groups, like Jewish Voice for Peace and California Scholars for Academic Freedom, and members of the UC/CSU community, including the graduate assembly at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz professor emerita Angela Davis.

HR 35 is based on a flawed UC campus climate report that has also received wide criticism for its poor methodology and recommendations that would curtail first amendment rights on UC campuses. This summer and fall 2,500 people, mostly from the UC community, called for the report to be tabled in a petition started by UC Jewish students.

HR 35 is part of a well-documented pattern of intimidation against those speaking out in support of Palestinian rights on UC/CSU campuses, noted in a recent letter from civil rights groups to the UC Administration.

Therefore,

  1. We applaud UCSA for standing up on behalf of the UC community and defending our right to advocate for human rights and in support of international law.

  2. We thank UCSA for reiterating that students have a right to advocate for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against companies complicit in the systematic violation of human rights, as our campuses have repeatedly done, most notably by the unanimous vote by the UC Irvine student government last month.

  3. We reiterate that votes to oppose Israel’s discriminatory policies by multiple UC campuses express a consistent anti-racist position, and that such opposition to Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian rights is not equivalent to anti-Semitism.

  4. And we express confidence in UCSA’s ability to represent the student populationand strongly oppose ongoing efforts to pressure UCSA to reverse its vote. We affirm that UCSA speaks for the majority viewpoint at the UC which opposes racism in all forms, whether it be anti-Jewish acts by anti-Semites or anti-Palestinian policies undertaken by Israel in its discriminatory and illegal occupation.

Tell Yudof to Reject the Campus Climate Report

The “University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations” is an attempt to infringe on the freedom of speech of students and student groups who voice opinions critical of Israel and Israeli policies, labeling such opinions “hate speech”. Writing for Salon, Ken White suggests that the aim of the report is to “protect students from constitutionally protected political rhetoric they find painful and offensive”.

UC students have started a petition calling for UC President Mark Yudof to reject the recommendations of the report. Read more about the student initiative on their Facebook page, and please sign the petition.