On Tuesday evening, Loyola University of Chicago became the first Catholic institution, and the first from the state of Illinois, whose student government has passed an anti-Israel divestment resolution.
The resolution, which a source says was not announced in advance, and faced no debate or opposition, called for the university “to divest from corporations profiting from Israel’s occupation” and passed unanimously, with twenty-six votes in favor and two abstentions.
A video of the resolution’s passage was posted online. Many of the students applauding appear to be Muslim, with female students wearing headscarves at the meeting.
The resolution named eight companies in all, including SodaStream, the company that actress Scarlett Johannson has defended in recent weeks.
The text of the resolution was not available or posted online, but was described on the website of a student activist group, “Sixteen Minutes to Palestine.” A statement on the Facebook page of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Loyola claims that the group gathered 800 signatures in support of the resolution:
In passing Divestment, Loyola University Chicago is upholding the Jesuit traditions and values that it represents. Divestment is a non-violent strategy that is aimed to pressure corporations to withdraw from businesses violating human rights. SJP LUC hopes that this success signals the beginning of future successes for other universities and Jesuit institutions in the United States. As members of an institute of higher education, it is our [the students’] responsibility to draw attention to these social justice abuses. SJP LUC stands in solidarity with Palestine and continues to stress the severity of the Conflict.
There was no mention in SJP Loyola’s statement of ongoing Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians, nor any mention of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The statement also ignores human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority.
SJP Loyola also failed to provide any historical background that would explain Israel’s presence in the West Bank, such as the fact that Israeli forces took control after being attacked by Jordan in 1967, and remained there after Arab states rejected any negotiations for peace.
According to “Sixteen Minutes,” the Loyola student government passed every resolution it considered on Tuesday evening, barely a week after the university’s return from spring break.
There has already been a response from alumni. One recent graduate, Alex Amchislavskiy ’13, wrote to the student government:
As an alumnus of Loyola University Chicago (Class of 2013), I was very surprised to hear that a BDS resolution passed today. This was alarming, because I was not aware that such a resolution or debate was occurring on campus, despite having many friends at Loyola who would have found this very relevant.
This resolution which singled out Israel does not have any basis in the current political reality of the Middle East….
I have attached a “Student Leadership Statement” in support of the United States-Israel relationship which was published in the Loyola Phoenix last year on April 17th.
Signatories include the College Democrats and College Republicans, bipartisan support that echoes down from our own Capitol Hill in Washington DC. BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] will not bring justice to Palestine and ignores the Israeli drive for democracy, equality, and tolerance. I would be happy to meet with all of you in person to help bring about a balanced opinion on the issue.