Monday, March 08, 2021

UCLA Student Government stealthily passes a resolution accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing" - and then apologizes

From the Jewish Journal:
The UCLA student government passed a resolution on March 3 alleging that the Israeli government is committing “ethnic cleansing” against the Palestinians.

The resolution called for the University of California system to divest from “the war industry” and for “the university to sever itself from companies that engage or aid in the oppression of any people.”

But what Jewish groups and students have taken issue with is that the resolution states that divestment is a legitimate tool to fight against injustice, citing “South African apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing in Palestine by the Israeli government.” The resolution also promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution passed by the UCLA student government in 2014.

“We had no idea this resolution was coming up, and were not alerted by anyone ahead of time,” Aaron Ahdoot, president of Bruins for Israel Public Affairs Committee at UCLA, told the Journal. “The language of the resolution was not released ahead of the council meeting, making it impossible for any of the students to speak out on it.”

Rabbi Aaron Lerner, Executive Director of Hillel at UCLA, wrote in an email to community members that the resolution “follows the familiar pattern of seeking to delegitimize Israel within broader language. The resolution was deliberately hidden from Jewish students, preventing them from engaging in the debate.”
Indeed, while the resolution was sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine and a host of other groups, as far as I can tell they didn't mention the upcoming resolution in social media beforehand - and celebrated it afterwards.  

It was deliberately hidden to stop any pro-Israel students from having the opportunity to object, which shows how little the BDS groups actually think of their resolutions' actual merits. 

The "apartheid" language is hidden in the preamble:

WHEREAS, the strategy and tool of divestment has been used on numerous occasions to fight for justice, including such examples as the Darfur genocide in Sudan, South African apartheid, the private prison industry, fossil fuels, the Thirty-Meter Telescope, and against ethnic cleansing in Palestine by the Israeli government;

And the preamble also pushes BDS:

 WHEREAS, in 2014, the Undergraduate Student Association Council passed A Resolution to Divest from Companies that Violate Palestinian Human Rights proposed by UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine;

There is an irony in that the actual resolution would, if applied fairly, mean that the UCLA Student Government itself should boycott BDS:

LET IT FINALLY BE RESOLVED, that the Undergraduate Student Association Council, representing the interests of students, calls upon the university to sever itself from companies that engage or aid in the oppression of any people based on religion, nationality, gender, race or orientation, or violence against them, by divesting from companies that participate and profit from human rights violations.
BDS calls for Israeli speakers on campus to be boycotted and for Israeli universities to be shunned, which means that BDS itself discriminates against nationality. If discrimination on that basis is unacceptable, then the UCLA Student Government should ban any group that pushes BDS on campus.

The good news is that after Jewish groups pointed out the underhandedness of sneaking Israel-hating language into an anti-war resolution, the student government apologized:
On March 5, the UCLA student government sent an apology to Hillel at UCLA over the resolution being “inadvertently hidden from the Jewish community and the public at large” and that the student government will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“Going forward we hope to work with student leaders in Hillel and in all spaces on campus to ensure that USAC [UCLA Students Association Council] is a safe space for debate and dialogue on important issues on our agendas,” they wrote.
But that is fairly meaningless since the resolution has already passed.