After marathon debate, UCLA student government rejects Israel divestment

The UCLA official seal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

( After a marathon debate that started Tuesday night and stretched into Wednesday morning, the student government at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) rejected a divestment resolution targeting Israel.

UCLA’s Undergraduate Students Association Council voted 7-5 against the resolution following nearly 12 hours of speeches, presentations, and deliberations.

The resolution, which was organized by members of the anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), called on the University of California system to divest from specific companies that the resolution claims are complicit in the “human rights abuses of the Palestinians.” The resolution singled out companies such as Caterpillar, General Electric, and Hewlett-Packard for divestment.

According to the Daily Bruin, nearly 500 people turned out to speak at the council meeting. The speeches lasted nine hours, until 4 a.m.

Two more hours of presentations by SJP and the UCLA pro-Israel student group Bruins for Israel followed the speeches, and then there were deliberations by the student council.

“After this 12-hour incredibly emotional council meeting, I have never been so ashamed to be a Bruin,” Avinoam Baral—a third-year student at UCLA, former executive board member of Bruins for Israel, and currently the chief of staff to the Undergraduate Student Association Internal Vice President—told “My homeland Israel was put on trial last night. False allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘apartheid,’ and ‘sterilization of Ethiopian women’ were put forth to justify this divestment resolution, an extension of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. I am so proud of all the hundred Jewish students, pro-Israel students, and allies who came to speak up against BDS. Finally, although it has been said that we ‘won,’ I feel that everyone in that room lost that night as the campus was absolutely torn apart by this issue.”

Matan and Tamir, two Israel Defense Forces soldiers who are touring the southwestern United States as part of the “Israeli Soldiers’ Stories” program of the pro-Israel education group StandWithUs, attended the marathon student council debate.

“As Israelis, we have heard about these types of anti-Israel events before, but this was the first time we got to witness it. We were personally disgusted and shocked by the amount of lies coming from the other side (pro-divestment students),” Matan told

The soldiers, whose last names could not be published for security reasons, also said they were taken aback by the amount of hate that was coming from the pro-divestment students during their speeches.

“The [pro-divestment] students were filled with just so much hate,” said Matan. “I think they even scared some of the [student] council members with their rabid hate of Israel.”

Matan added, “We were just really happy we have a chance to speak and tell our personal stories [as Israeli soldiers] and impressed by how intelligent and positive the pro-Israel students were, despite being greatly outnumbered.”

The vote at UCLA comes on the heels of another defeat for Israel divestment at nearby University of California, Riverside. On Feb. 13, that school’s student government—in a narrow 7-6 vote, with one abstention—rejected a divestment resolution presented by SJP members.

Posted on February 26, 2014 .