Jewish groups help defeat divestment bill in Stanford student senate

The Stanford University seal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( Stanford University’s ASSU Undergraduate Senate, 15 undergraduates elected each spring who deal with the school’s legislation, advocacy and programming, on March 5 voted against a divestment bill proposed by Students for Palestinian Equal Rights (SPER) March 5.

The SPER bill called on the Senate to ask the Board of Trustees to discontinue endowment investments in eight companies that it said commit “human rights abuses and violations of international law.” But some groups that attended the Senate hearing, such as Chabad at Stanford and the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, called the bill an attack on Israel in disguise.

Samar Alqatari ’14, one of the bill’s co-authors, said all of the companies are“legitimate companies to divest from.” ButDon Waintraub, StandWithUs Northern California and Pacific Northwest Coordinator, attended the vote and told he thought “those supporting divestment at Stanford were well-meaning but just misguided.”

“Though, a few of them were simply filled with anger and hatred,” Waintraub said. “One girl kept ranting about the Zionist White supremacy of our time.” 

In the debate Tuesday, the Stanford senate listened to students speak on both sides of the issue and ultimately voted against the bill. The senators then voted on a resolution asking university students to debate divestment in other forums, with eight votes of support and five abstentions.

“It was heated and incredibly unfortunate that it had to end up like this. The original anti-Israel bill was shut down seven ‘nay’ to one ‘yay,’ with the rest abstaining. Neither side left happy, everyone just left exhausted and drained,” Waintraub said.

“It’s incredibly important to stress that this was a student-led defense of Israel. They were the ones who pulled off this defense,” he added.

StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement, “Without the efforts of the pro-Israel community, anti-Israel misinformation and bias would go unchallenged, and many students would be led to believe, mistakenly, that Palestinians bear no responsibility for the ongoing conflict and that Israel alone is the obstacle to peace. We applaud the pro-Israel students for their courage and commitment to educating students about the facts, and attempting to restore reasonable debate on campuses.”

Posted on March 6, 2013 .