Divestment: Stop the divide and conquer


by Talia Moyal

Israel + Palestine = Conflict.

It’s a simple equation, to say the least.

Since the inception of a modern Israel, the world has witnessed an endless dispute over territory, boundaries, national security and human rights violations. The situation is complicated, and because of its complicated nature, there is no right answer.

So what in our right minds makes us think that UC Davis’ student government can bring an issue of unmatched complexity to a vote?

A number of ASUCD commissions have heard and marked up a resolution that calls for the divestment of a number of companies (including General Electric and Caterpillar) who do business with Israel on the grounds of alleged human rights violations against Palestinians.

This resolution – a piece of legislation that is meant to serve as the representative voice of the student body – focuses its entire attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As a student at UC Davis, and one that identifies as a Jewish-Israeli, this document makes me feel uncomfortable. I do not feel it is remotely appropriate to vote on a resolution that intensely scrutinizes the actions of one country.

Within the short amount of time that this resolution has circulated at UC Davis, it has quickly divided the student body and pitted us against each other.  As a student, I shouldn’t walk into a room and feel that half of the people in it already feel a certain way towards me because of my stance on an issue or because of my race; but that was the sentiment during week’s commission meetings.

This divisiveness and alienation can’t possibly serve any meaningful purpose for an organization that was formed to represent the views and will of the student body.

The most disconcerting part of this resolution is the notion that the author does not take an “equal opportunity divestment” approach. Instead of focusing on all of the nations that commit human rights violations, the resolution puts the blinding spotlight on Israel.

My question: Where is the list of companies that do business with other countries that commit human rights violations?

After taking a look at the list of companies that UC Davis and the University of California are financially involved with, there are at least 10 others companies affiliated with countries other than Israel that are known to be involved in human rights violations.

Although, since first publishing this bill, the authors have added a phrase about other bills of this nature being written to represent human rights violations all over the world, it was only after they received serious backlash from the community about being overtly biased. Can we expect them to also write the other bills? Or will they just stick to ones regarding Israel.

As previously said, this resolution is tearing apart our campus community. There is more hatred between two groups involved in this resolution than I have seen all year.

But should we have expected anything short of what UC Davis is seeing?

There are too many emotions and personal experiences invested in this issue for either side to talk about it peacefully. This should be our most important consideration.

The greater problem is that this resolution is an empty gesture causing such distress.

If that isn’t enoguh, try to remember how divestment – and the spat that has already transpired – would affect our greater UC Davis community.

Pro-divestment speakers have belittled many these companies to the point in which they are less likely to recruit from our campus. Additionally, these companies also help fund scholarships that UC Davis students earn. Would we like to take away from that as well, all for one empty gesture?

The actions that occur in the Middle East are two sided—it is not right to present this issue as a unilateral act of aggression coming from the state of Israel and it is also not right to compare what is happening in Israel to acts of genocide.

Today, ASUCD’s Business and Finance Commission will meet to hopefully make a decision regarding this resolution. It is not hard to see that regardless of your stance on divestment, it is not financially beneficial to our community. Regardless, every side deserves to say what they think without having to codify it and blanket it as campuswide opinion.

I can only hope that once this is over we move in a direction that promotes a positive relationship between the Palestinian and Israeli communities on campus.

Want to offer a counterpoint? Send your submission to aetavlian@ucdavis.edu