Full text of Landmark UCSA Decision 9/15/2012

A Resolution Regarding California Assembly Bill HR 35

Approved by the University of California Student Association,

9/15/2012 (12 for, 2 abstain, 0 against)

WHEREAS a marketplace of ideas where no political speech is suppressed is crucial to a healthy democratic process, AND

WHEREAS universities are important traditional centers of free speech and academic freedom. AND

WHEREAS students and student organizations, motivated by belief in human rights, justice and equality, and who exercise their First Amendment rights to criticize Israeli policies are a welcome addition to campus dialogue and debate. AND

WHEREAS HR 35, introduced in the California State Assembly, calls upon public postsecondary educational institutions in California to directly suppress legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and Palestine solidarity activism, and stifles robust political debate on public university campuses1. AND

WHEREAS HR 35 calls upon public postsecondary educational institutions in California to increase efforts to swiftly and unequivocally condemn student and faculty sponsored divestment, and sanction campaigns against Israel and those companies supporting Israel’s Human rights violations.2 AND

WHEREAS Boycotts, divestment and sanction campaigns are a recognized form of free speech protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. AND

WHEREAS HR 35 constitutes a serious attack on academic freedom and the rights of students and faculty to raise awareness about human rights abuses by US-backed governments3 AND

WHEREAS While HR 35 is a non-binding resolution, the resolution may embolden university administrators to explicitly curb freedom of expression, as has already been advocated by the recent campus climate report commissioned by UC President Mark Yudof.4 AND

WHEREAS While HR 35 purports to oppose anti-Semitism, much of HR 35 is written to unfairly and falsely smear as “anti-Semites” those who do human rights advocacy focusing on Israel’s illegal occupation, alleging that the UC faculty and staff involved in such work are motivated by anti-Semitism5 rather than by the political ideals of equality and respect for universal human rights they affirm, ideals UCSA and most California students share. AND

WHEREAS organizations and student governments on campuses throughout the UC system have passed resolutions and been involved in actions critiquing and responding to Israeli policies, and this demonstrated campus unity refutes claims that these actions are motivated by anti-Semitism6 AND

WHEREAS The misuse of terms like anti-Semitism does a disservice not only to those falsely smeared but also to the legacy of anti-Semitic racism and actual victims of anti-Semitism. AND

WHEREAS HR 35 reflects a complete ignorance of the wealth of scholarship and legal opinion (important pieces of it coming from scholars at the UC) affirming the applicability of terms such as racism and Apartheid in the context of Israeli policies.7

BE IT RESOLVED that the UCSA President will issue a letter to the Assembly and UC Regents in strong opposition to HR 35 and expressing the UCSA’s opposition to all racism, whether it be the racism of campus and global anti-Semitism or the racism of Israel’s human rights violations, neither of which our campuses should tolerate, support, or profit from.

BE IT RESOLVED that the UCSA recognizes the legitimacy of boycotts and divestment as important social movement tools, and encourages all institutions of higher learning to cleanse their investment portfolios of unethical investments in companies implicated in or profiting from violations of international human rights law, without making special exemptions for any country;

BE IT RESOLVED that the UCSA supports free speech on campus, including criticisms and critiques of foreign governments,

BE IT RESOLVED that the UCSA recognizes HR35 as one in a series of attempts to stifle legitimate speech by UC students by falsely conflating speech critical of Israeli policies with anti-Semitism.

  1. Full text of HR 35

  2. Full text of HR 35

  3. Stephen Zunes, “California State Assembly Seeks to Stifle Debate on Israel”

  4. Rebecca Peirce, “U.C. report on Jewish campus climate: Results marginalize, misrepresent students critical of Israel”

  5. An open letter to assemblymembers

  6. UC Santa Cruz Palestinian Awareness Week 2012

    Tracy Tieu, “Palestinian Awareness Week Disrupted”

  7. Saree Makdisee, “Book Review: Palestine Inside Out

    Shafir and Peled, review of Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship

    Beinin and Stein, The Struggle for Sovereignty

    “SA academic study finds that Israel is practicing apartheid and colonialism in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”

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