FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2013
Associated Students at University of California Berkeley Passes Divestment Resolution For Second Time
This morning (April 18th, 2013) at 5:00 AM PT, the Associated Students at UC Berkeley passed a resolution in support of divesting UC funds from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Cement Roadstone Holdings because of the role these companies play in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and occupation of their lands. The vote came nearly three years after another successful divestment vote in the Berkeley student government, one which was ultimately vetoed by then-ASUC president Will Smelko and followed other successful divestment bills at other UC campuses this school year. The bill will soon be available on the ASUC website and should be read in full to fully appreciate.
According to the divestment bill’s author, Senator George Kadifa, “I pushed this forward for exactly one reason: it’s wrong to maintain investments in companies that are complicit in human rights violations against our own students. Are Palestinian students as much of a student as are other students? Who do we become as a student government the moment we start saying we stand for human rights but not those people’s human rights?”
Hundreds of students turned out to debate the bill on the senate floor, making it the largest senate meeting of the year. The back and forth went on for hours and included a surprise speech in favor of divestment by writer and civil rights activist Alice Walker, a former UC Berkeley professor. Despite vocal opposition from pro-Israel student groups, and an attempt by some senators to introduce a new bill that dropped any effort at accountability for the abusing corporate actors, the student senate stuck with the vote to divest from Israel’s occupation by a final 11-9 vote. Support for the divestment bill attracted a broad and diverse cross section of campus, including dozens of student groups, such as the Black Student Union, Mexcha, and the Organization of African Students.
“Social justice is not, and never has been, a ‘comfortable’ issue,” said ASUC Senator Sadia Saifuddin. “Regardless, it is our job as elected officials to represent the communities that we were elected to represent, and I am proud to say that I stood with dozens of diverse communities in continuing the struggle against oppression, occupation, and violation of human rights.”
Students for Justice in Palestine commends the decision of the ASUC to demand university standards of sustainability and responsible investments. Companies who profit from the theft of Palestinian land and abuses of their human rights should be singled out and condemned for their actions, and Israel should be held to account for its interminable and oppressive policies of occupation, colonization, and discrimination against the Palestinian population under its rule. Nelson Mandela credited the pressure UC divestment measures exerted upon the government of South Africa as integral to the collapse of apartheid. Similarly, SJP UC Berkeley believes that divestment is a powerful tool with which to work towards true social justice for the Palestinians and for all peoples fighting occupation, apartheid, and other injustices.
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