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March 21, 2010 12:00 PM Berkeley Students Vote to Divest From Israel

By Daniel Luzer

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According to an article by Dina Omar in The Electronic Intifada, apparently Berkeley’s Student Senate voted on Thursday to:

Divest from companies that provide military support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Debate began the night before at 9:00pm and ended and six hours later when the vote was held at 3:00am. The session was attended by more than 150 students, educators and concerned community supporters, forcing the meeting to be relocated to a larger room. Ultimately, the bill passed with 16 senators in favor and 4 against.

This was in response to what one student described as “Israel’s siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip.” The bill requests that the University of California’s board of regents divest from two particular companies, General Electric and United Technologies, both of which build equipment used by the Israeli military.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization in Los Angeles, condemned the resolution, saying that:

In a world filled with human rights abuses across Africa, Asia and the Americas, the UC Berkeley students vote to single out Israel for censure is hypocritical…. This resolution will not help the quality of life for a single Palestinian, but is intended to render Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, helpless to defend its citizens from attack by Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.

In February 2009 Hampshire College became the first American university to officially stop investing in companies doing business with Israel.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer