Wednesday, May 21, 2014

  • Wednesday, May 21, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Last night, the University of Washington voted on their version of a divestment resolution, which said in part:

WHEREAS, the state of Israel, in its ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands , violates International Law and Human Rights…

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: THAT, the ASUW requests the University of Washington to examine its financial assets to identify its investments in companies that provide equipment or services used to directly maintain, support, or profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, including a) the demolition of Palestinian homes and the development of illegal Israeli settlements; b) the building or maintenance of the Separation wall, outposts, and segregated roads and transportation systems on occupied Palestinian territory, and c) illegal use of weaponry and surveillance technology by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilian populations, and that those findings be shared with the ASUW…

THAT, the ASUW requests the University of Washington to instruct its investment managers to divest from those companies meeting such criteria within the bounds of their fiduciary duties until such companies cease the practices identified in this Resolution.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Peter Brannan, a 31-year old senior (not a typo, he graduated high school in 2001) and an Arab of Palestinian descent named Amira Mattar.

The main organization pushing the resolution was SUPER-UW, which put together a 68 page booklet with letters of support from dozens of academics and other Israel haters across the country. The initiative was started on Passover to steamroll over objections of Jewish students who actually care about the holiday. They got Seattle alternative newspapers to write articles in their favor. As usual, supporters of Israel had to organize quickly to counter a well-planned campaign of lies.

Here's what happened:

As the Senate plodded through new business, the tension in the room was palpable. By 7:00 pm the AAA committee met in the foyer to hear final arguments and questions. After a brief pro and con and questions session, the committee voted to deliver the resolution to the senate “unfavorably”. This means that the AAA committee frowned upon the legislation but nevertheless was presenting it to the full senate.

At around 7:20 pm the senate reconvened. Those who wished to advocate for the resolution were told to gather in the right aisle, those in opposition to the left. For the next hour and a half the room was subject to a whiplash of perspectives. The pro students offered the usual BDS arguments, mired in stories of personal anguish “my grandfather can’t get his transfusions because of the wall”, Matrix style stories “Arabs and Jews are assigned different bio-metric cards courtesy of HP and Motorola”, and outright lies “The reliable website Mondoweiss reported today that the Israelis ripped out 15,000 dunams of Apple and Pear trees”. One of the most far-fetched assertions of many was the description of huge Caterpillar Tractor war machines (“15 times bigger than a regular tractor”) armed with offensive missile batteries.

There were at least as many students representing the pro-Israel side as there were BDS supporters. The pro-Israel students prepared well and their arguments seem to have resonated with the senators. One student expressed frustration at the unwillingness of the BDS side to enter into dialogue.

“We all support human rights, justice, and fair treatment for all people. I support fair treatment of Palestinians. But this resolution is one-sided, it does nothing to bring the parties together for dialogue. It actually opposes dialogue. And though we’ve tried to talk to the other side, the other side has refused to talk with us.”

One of the highlights of the evening was an articulate statement against the resolution made by UW Sociology professor,Paul Burstein. The professor was the only pro-Israel speaker who called out the BDS resolution as anti-Semitic. He suggested the resolution framers were less than honest as to their goals, and that their true intention was the end of Israel as a Jewish majority state. Pointing out that the resolution demanded nothing tangible of the students or the university, he described it as just an easy way to manipulate the students to appear to support the sponsor’s twisted agenda.

The debate wound to a close around 9:30pm as the President of the senate suggested that the maintenance staff would soon need to service the auditorium. Final tally 59 against, 8 in favor and 11 abstentions.

There was some scattered applause as the final tally was counted, but no gloating came from the pro-Israel side. Most merely heaved a sigh of relied that the battle for now, was won.

As students exited the auditorium, 27 BDS supporters, signs in hand stood outside the auditorium exit in a semi-circle, forcing attendees to walk through their gauntlet as they stood in silent, mournful disapproval.
This wasn't just a defeat - this was a rout.

This year was supposed to be the year of divestment. The BDSers planned to pass many resolutions at universities across the country, and they targeted the most liberal and sympathetic campuses they could. In nearly every case, they lost.

The fact that it happened in one of the most leftist areas of the country, near where Rachel Corrie lived, speaks volumes on how BDS has lost steam in places it formerly appeared to be dominating.




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