UC student panel calls for divestment from Israel and other nations

Other nations were included in divestment call as a way to not single out Israel, author says

The statewide panel that represents student governments across the University of California voted over the weekend to urge that UC end any investments in companies that aid in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. In addition, the UC student Assn. urged the UC regents to sell off holdings in bonds and other securities of the governments of eight other countries that activists said are violating human rights.

The UC Student Assn. voted 9 to 1 with 6 abstentions for the pro-divestment items during a passionate meeting at UCLA on Sunday that triggered protests from pro-Israel students.

Six undergraduate student governments on individual UC campuses previously voted for similar calls for divestment from firms that aid the Israeli military. The difference Sunday was that an extra resolution also denounced human rights violations by Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and the United States and urged the regents to drop any holdings in government securities of those countries.

Rebecca Ora, external vice president of UC Santa Cruz Graduate Student Assn., proposed the wider resolution as a compromise for some pro-Israel students who feel Israel was held to an unfair standard and that the actions of other nations were being ignored, according to the Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper.

The resolution argued that the countries listed have engaged in brutality against protesters, repressed ethnic minorities or invaded neighbors. The Egyptian government, for example, is responsible for arbitrary arrests and torture, religious discrimination and criminalization of gays and lesbians, according to the document. Russia is occupying the Ukrainian territory of Crimea and suppresses free speech at home.

The U.S. was  denounced for its drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and for its disproportionate imprisonment of minorities and immigrants who entered the country illegally.

However, no matter the passions during the debate, no real-world impact on UC holdings is likely. The UC regents have said they are not interested in tackling the issue of companies that do business in Israel, and there does not seem to an appetite to examine the records of the other nations. 

Follow me @larrygordonlat.

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