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UC Students Vote to Divest from Israel–and America

LOS ANGELES, California — An emotionally-charged and highly divisive vote took place at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on Sunday as pro-Israel students attempted to thwart two different divestment resolutions at the UC Student Association (USCA). Both divestment resolutions subsequently passed, including one which called for divestment from most of the world, including the United States.

The first resolution called for divestment from certain American companies that do business in Israel. The second resolution called for divestment from American, Mexican, Russian, Turkish, Indonesian, Brazilian, Sri Lankan, and Egyptian government bonds.

The student-backed board passed both divestment resolutions with an initial vote of 11 “yes” vote, 1 “no” vote, and 3 “abstentions” before a revote determined the final tally to be 9-1-6. The vote was held at UCLA’s Tom Bradley Hall. The vote comes just days after UC Davis passed a similar resolution.

Several familiar faces from a “Block the Boat” occupation in Long Beach and a meeting hosted by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in Berkeley who intended to stop Bill Maher (“Block the Bigot“) from speaking at the UC Berkeley mid-year commencement were also present.

“I’m not afraid of passing the resolution. I’m afraid of us leaving here and walking in different directions,” one of the day’s speakers said.

Among the students who co-wrote the divestment from Israel resolution was Rahim Kurwa. Breitbart News had initially been blocked by organizers from entering the hall to observe the vote.

Taher Herzallah, who is the National Campus Coordinator for the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) had stated during the AMP’s meeting in Chicago this past December that “Israelis have to be bombed, they are a threat to the legitimacy of Palestine and it is wrong to maintain the State of Israel. It is an illegitimate creation born from colonialism and racism.”

In 2010, Herzallah was arrested, along with 10 other pro-Palestinian student activists who became known as the “Irvine 11”, for disrupting a speech by then-Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine.

Before the vote for divestment took place, students and activists representing both sides of the argument stated their cases for reasons why the resolutions should and should not pass before an open microphone. One pro-divestment speaker said “the resolution today is the work of nearly 13 years of work on our campus.” Another said he was “tired of seeing the Palestinian people suffer.”

A pro-Israel and anti-divestment student from UC San Diego said he was “disgraced to be at the UC school. The idea that the Palestinian cause rises to the top of every human rights cause is a disgrace to justice….Palestinian people are facing oppression based on their own government….The issue here is Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Abbas.”

At the end of the vote, pro-divestment students and activists lauded each other by saying “mabrouk” which is congratulations in Arabic.

A UC Student Association board member said: “The UC Regents is next. We’re coming, Janet Napolitano.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

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