On February 25, 2014, advocates of singling Israel out for condemnation introduced a measure to the UCLA student government asking it to call on the university to divest from five Israeli companies — Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Cemex – they accuse of enabling Israel to occupy the West Bank More than 500 students packed into the Ackerman Grand Ballroom to express their opinions on the resolution and listen to the debate.
Surprisingly, in the days before the resolution came to a vote, Students for Justice in Palestine tried through twists of logic to say that calling for divestment did not mean they supported the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign that seeks to destroy Israel.
The meeting went on for almost nine hours so that arguments could be heard on both sides. At one point Ben Shapiro, conservative talk show host and UCLA alumnus, arrived to declare that the resolution was only being discussed for one reason: “vile, spiteful Jew hatred.” An former IDF soldier also spoke and asked the council to ask him if they had any questions about what really happens in Israel and the West Bank.
In the end the resolution failed to pass in a 7-5 vote. The pro divestment students responded to this news by chanting “Tuition is for education, not for occupation,” and shouting “shame on you!” at the UCLA Student Council. One student’s emotional outburst expressing “disappointment” at the Student Council’s decision was videotaped and quickly went viral. On March 5th the pro divestment students held a public protest claiming they were “Second Class Bruins.” They accused UCLA of “white supremacy” and said that they were being “silenced.”
This is not the first effort to misinform the UCLA student body, and probably won’t be the last. These campaigns to demonize Israel only poison the campus environment while doing nothing to help Palestinians or advance the cause of peace. Even on the handful of occasions when student governments have fallen for the propaganda masquerading as concern for human rights, the victories have been Pyrrhic ones because no university has divested from Israel. Moreover, the University of California regents and other administrators have said they will not be divesting from any companies affiliated with Israel, or honoring any divestment resolutions directed at Israel.
SJP at UCLA
Bruins for Israel
Resolution supports divestment, not BDS as a whole
Divestment resolution relevant to entire student body
Divestment promotes anti-Israel movement
BDS movement detracts from two-state solution
USAC vote on resolution would be counterproductive
Context is crucial in USAC resolutions
Bruins for Israel statement
Video of arguments and vote: