Monday, May 31, 2010

Demonstrations for action against Apartheid Israel--

--In Baghdad, Cairo, Madrid, Ankara, Washington, and Ann Arbor:

Some of the worldwide protest demonstrations from May 31, 2010 --

-- immediately after Israel massacred human rights activists who were trying to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza on boats:

Photo 1 from Baghdad demonstration.
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Over 3,000 Iraqis demonstrated against Israel across the Tigris River from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, May 31, 2010.


Photo 2 from Baghdad demonstration.
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Over 3,000 Iraqis demonstrated against Israel across the Tigris River from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday, May 31, 2010.


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Demonstrators in Ankara, Turkey, outside the Israeli ambassador's residence.

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Demonstrators in Cairo.

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Demonstrators in the Occupied West Bank were attacked with tear gas by the Israeli military.


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Demonstrators in Pakistan burn an Israeli flag.


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Demonstrators in front of Spain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid.


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A protest was held in Washington, D.C..


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Thousands protested in London.


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Thousands protested in London.


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Outside the Ann Arbor, Michigan Federal Building, over 30 people protested.


Boycott Israel at your City Council:

Israel massacres peace activists, to stop aid from reaching Gaza.

Photo: Around 10,000 people marched from the Israeli consulate in Istanbul towards the city's main square on Monday, shouting slogans and waving banners saying "Killer Israel".


"The deadly last moments of the Gaza flotilla"

by Joe Krauss, AFP, published in the Vancouver Sun, May 31, 2010, at:

ASHDOD, Israel - Naval commandos can be seen rappelling down from helicopters then pointing assault rifles, in some of the dramatic footage of Israel's deadly pre-dawn raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla on Monday.

Israel says the troops returned fire after they were attacked with live rounds, knives and clubs, but the organizers of the Gaza blockade busting bid insist the soldiers started shooting the moment they hit the deck.

"They fired directly into the crowd of civilians asleep," the Free Gaza Movement said.

Only limited footage of the incident has been broadcast as communications with the six ships participating in the flotilla appeared to have been scrambled during the operation some reports say left 19 passengers dead and 36 wounded....


"Turks rally against Israeli attack"

In Aljazeera, May 31, 2010, at

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in the Turkish city of Istanbul to denounce Israel over its attack on the convoy of Gaza-bound aid ships that left at least 15 people dead.

Around 10,000 people marched from the Israeli consulate in Istanbul towards the city's main square on Monday, shouting slogans and waving banners saying "Killer Israel".


"Israel's Gaza blockade targets Hamas while citizens suffer"

In the Guardian (U.K.), May 31, 2010, at:

The aid flotilla attacked by Israeli troops today was trying to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel in June 2007.

Israel said the blockade was intended to hold Hamas – which it views as a terrorist group – "responsible and accountable" for rocket attacks on its territory. It is also intended to constrain Hamas's ability to rule in Gaza, and to put pressure on it to release Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier held captive for four years.

The blockade, preventing all exports from Gaza and confining imports to a limited supply of humanitarian goods, has failed to bring down Hamas but has heaped misery on Gaza's 1.5 million residents.

The UN humanitarian coordinator said last week that the formal economy in Gaza has "collapsed" and 60% of households were short of food.

According to UN statistics, around 70% of Gazans live on less than a dollar a day, 75% rely on food aid and 60% have no daily access to water.

Luxury foods are banned and a UN report last year said that on average it took 85 days to get shelter kits into Gaza, 68 days to deliver health and paediatric hygiene kits, and 39 days for household items such as bedding and kitchen utensils. It said that school textbooks and stationery had been delayed.

The effect of the blockade was felt even more acutely in the aftermath of the invasion of the strip by Israeli forces in the winter of 2008/9, as materials needed for reconstruction were delayed or banned from entering Gaza. A UN factfinding mission described the blockade as "collective punishment".


Thursday, May 27, 2010

“Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

“Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons”

By Chris McGreal
Published May 23, 2010 in the Guardian (U.K.), at:

Photo by the Guardian: The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres, now president of Israel, and P W Botha of South Africa.


Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

A spokeswoman for Peres today said the report was baseless and there were "never any negotiations" between the two countries. She did not comment on the authenticity of the documents.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available." The document then records: "Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice." The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with "special warheads". Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: "It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel's nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. "The Israeli defence ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date," he said. "The South Africans didn't seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime's old allies."


Monday, May 24, 2010

University of Johannesburg may break its ties with an Israeli university.

University of Johannesburg Senate considers breaking its ties with an Israeli university--

-- The President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) says:
"What Israel is doing in Palestine amounts to apartheid."


"Varsity row over Israel links"

by LIONEL FAULL, in the "Mail & Guardian" (South Africa)

May 21, 2010


The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is considering cutting academic ties with Israel's Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in protest against Ben Gurion's alleged association with Palestinian human rights abuses.

An "extraordinary" meeting of the university's senate debated the matter on Monday.

The university's current partnership with Ben Gurion dates from August when the two signed an academic cooperation and staff exchange agreement, relating to water purification and micro-algal biotechnology research.

This re-established a relationship forged between the former Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) and Ben Gurion in the apartheid 1980s. RAU merged with Technikon Witwatersrand in 2005 to form the University of Johannesburg.

In October, 52 academic staff members signed a petition opposing the current partnership. It states in part: "The Palestinian people are currently victims of an Israeli occupation, which violates their human rights as well as international law. Their plight has been repeatedly compared with that of black South Africans under apartheid."

Professor Steven Friedman presented the pro-boycott argument in the senate on behalf of the petitioners. "We are not asking UJ to join a boycott campaign against Israel," said Friedman, who is the director of the joint UJ-Rhodes University Centre for the Study of Democracy.

"But we are asking them not to sign agreements with institutions which collaborate with governments that commit human rights violations," he told the Mail & Guardian.

Friedman argued that:

* Israel has 53 apartheid-style laws that discriminate between Jews and non-Jews;

* The Israeli occupation of Gaza is a colonial exercise; and

* The Ben Gurion offers stipends and partial exemptions from its degree requirements to members of the Israeli military, and tenders for Israeli Defence Force research contracts.

The partnership was defended in the senate meeting by Professor Ilan Troen, the Ben Gurion's founding dean of humanities and social sciences, and South African advocate David Unterhalter.

Troen flew to South Africa from Israel for the meeting; Unterhalter appeared pro bono. Their participation was organised by the South African Associates of Ben Gurion University, the president of which, Bertram Lubner, is vice-chairperson of Ben Gurion's board of governors. Lubner is an honorary life member of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.


Troen told the M&G he was "surprised" that a "water purification project that is of manifest benefit to South Africans and an academic cooperation of 20 years' standing between two institutions" should be questioned. He said the proposed boycott was reprehensible. "It is understandable that South Africans should interpret other societies in terms of their own experiences, but the apartheid metaphor is a fallacy."

Petition signatory Salim Vally, a senior researcher in UJ's Centre for Education Rights and Transformation, said: "RAU played a particular role in cooperating with apartheid. It was on the wrong side of history then and we don't want UJ to be on the wrong side now."

The university's SRC president, Emmanuel Mapheto, echoed this: "We cannot allow our institution to partner BGU. What Israel is doing in Palestine amounts to apartheid," he said.

The senate unanimously resolved that a nine-member committee, led by UJ deputy vice-chancellor Adam Habib, should make recommendations on the matter to the senate within three months.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Divestment movement roars ahead at University of New Mexico

"Activist groups:
"No funds for Israel"

By Andrew Beale | DAILY LOBO

University of New Mexico (UNM)

May 10, 2010

A group of students at UNM is following the University of California Berkeley’s trend by starting a “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” campaign against Israel.

This means the removal of school funds from groups that make a profit in Israel, said Nada Noor, a spokeswoman for UNM’s Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East.

“Our aim is not to target Israel for the sake of targeting Israel but rather target companies engaging in and profiting from illegal, destructive and inhumane behavior,” she said.

“Unfortunately, this will take a lot more than a Google search to locate.”

UC Berkeley and UC San Diego students recently brought motions to their student senates, but both were ultimately shot down, Noor said.

“A senate vote in favor of a divestment resolution would be nice, but a silent vote in favor is less significant than a prolonged debate. If you think about it, that’s why UC Berkeley’s campaign was still a great success,” she said.

The group is working to investigate which companies that have contracts with UNM are profiting from illegal activities in Israel, Noor said. She said the wave of student movements from the campaign is similar to student movements against the South African apartheid.

“As we know, the BDS campaigns against South Africa’s apartheid system began with students at universities around the country,” she said...


Monday, May 3, 2010

"Divestment gains momentum" at University of Arizona today

"Divestment gains momentum:

"Groups call for UA, UAPD to end contracts with Motorola, Caterpillar"


Published: Monday, May 3, 2010

Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona


More than 50 members of the UA and Tucson medical community have signed a letter calling for the UA to end its contracts with the Motorola and Caterpillar corporations because of their alleged roles in health and human rights violations in Palestine and Israel.

The open letter was publicly issued as part of the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee Day of Action, which marks “Land Day” in Palestine.

“Land Day” memorializes March 30, 1976 when Palestinians protested Israeli seizures of land, motivated by the contents of the Koenig Report. The report is an internal Israeli government document outlining tactical plans for reducing the number and influence of Arab citizens of Israel, particularly in the Galilee region of the country.

The UA and Tucson medical community sent the letter to solicit aid to “expose the alarming business relationships between the University of Arizona and the Caterpillar and Motorola corporations for their roles in perpetuating, and profiting from, the global humanitarian and health crisis in Palestine/Israel.”

The letter targets the $203,000 contract University of Arizona Police Department has with Motorola to provide radio and communications equipment since 1999 and the UA’s 2004 contract with Caterpillar to provide software for the College of Engineering. Both of these contracts remain active today.

The letter cites Section II of the UA’s “Policy on Corporations,” which states in part that the “name of the university should never be used to endorse any products or corporations whose products are instruments of destruction or known to cause harm to humans.”

“We do not believe that the UA can be true to its mission of promoting health with the knowledge that the very worst aspects of this global crisis continue through the UA’s business relationships with Caterpillar and Motorola,” the letter reads.

UA Vice President of Communications Johnny Cruz said the university has received the letter, along with other similar calls to end the contracts, though he could not comment on what steps the university is taking to address the issue.

Some university affiliates question the motives and effectiveness of divestment campaigns.

“Divestment is not the way you go about bringing change or peace to the Middle East,” said Michelle Blumenberg, executive director of the UA Hillel Foundation. “On a whole variety of fronts that doesn’t make any sense. If what you care about are human rights abuses and peace between people then there are ways you can do that, but what do you get by ostracizing Israel?”

Blumenberg also questioned how much the UA community supports the letter, calculating that out of a campus community of 50,000 faculty, students and staff, the 54 signatures on the letter made up only 0.1 percent of the UA community.

“If 0.1 percent of the campus signs something what does that tell you about the campus feeling about it?” she asked.

Blumenberg also contrasted the 0.1 percent with the Jewish population on campus, which she estimated as about 10 percent.

“You want to talk about human rights abuses and you want to talk about corporations, then make it a broader issue,” Blumenberg said.

Hannah Hafter is a UA public health and Mexican-American studies graduate student who signed the letter. Hafter expressed her belief that divestment is an effective means of protest.

“The U.S. provides more military aid to Israel than any other country in the world, and anticipates strengthening it to $3 billion per year for this purpose through the next 10 years. This is our tax money and it represents us, so it is important that as a people we get the facts and decide for ourselves if we are in agreement with this use of tax money or not,” Hafter said.

Hafter also stressed that this divestment campaign does not endorse any one side of the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“When it comes to divestment, though, we aren’t talking about or asking the university to talk a stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict overall,” Hafter said. “We are looking at two specific companies whose technology is used to commit war crimes against innocent civilians, and when they profit from it then it benefits us. Those of us supporting divestment here actually come from a whole range of views about Israel and Palestine but this is something we all agree on.”

The UA is not the only university facing divestment rhetoric at the moment. On March 18, the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley, passed a resolution in support of their campus ending contracts with General Electric and United Technologies, two companies that produce aircrafts for the Israeli Army, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet. The resolution was vetoed by Berkeley Student Senate President Will Smelko on the grounds that it “singled out Israel,” though the senate is debating whether to override his veto.

The student government of the University of Michigan, Dearborn, approved a similar, though non-binding, measure on Feb. 25 and last year Hampshire College became the first college to completely divest itself financially from companies with ties in Israel and Palestine....


Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Demand Full Divestment" --

Ad Hoc University of California Divestment Coalition, 1986

Click on poster to enlarge it.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Divestment roars ahead on campuses:

Click on today's article to enlarge it.

"BDS Movement grows despite UC-Berkeley divestment veto"


May 1-7, 2010


After a 16-4 original vote by student senators for divestment from two companies (General Electric and United Technologies) that are allegedly providing military technologies to Israel that were used in alleged war crimes, the University of California-Berkeley’s student senate seemed on its way to passing a historic bill.

But a March 24 veto by Associated Students of the University of California-Berkeley (ASUC) President Will Smelko put the passage in jeopardy.

The UC-Berkeley divestment bill saga ended at about 4 a.m. on Thursday April 29 when subsequent efforts to override the veto by two-thirds majority fell one vote short for a second time by a 13-5-1 vote with student action senator Anish Gala not participating. The meeting originally began Wednesday night and was reportedly attended by about 500 people.

Despite the inability to override the veto due to changed votes from ASUC members, ASUC Student Senator Emily Carlton said that the pro-divestment crowd on campus and in California remains upbeat and satisfied with the attention the proposed bill brought to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"The bill was an encouragement for the region to divest and to start a movement so n that sense the veto was a really good thing," she said.

The divestment saga drew international attention as well as coverage from many local California outlets including the popular Democracy Now! radio show. Carlton said that the show refused to cover the divestment issue until Smelko issued the veto.

"When the veto happened, people started getting interested, we got 25,000 e-mails and the support of more than 40 student groups on campus."

Student Action Senator Parth Bhatt, who opposed of the bill, took issue its specificity according to The Daily Californian, Cal-Berkeley’s student newspaper.

"I personally disagree that this is just an issue regarding divestment from war crimes," he said.

The bill received support from the Jewish Voice for Peace organization, notable authors Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, and 85-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, whose hunger strike at the Gaza Freedom March in Egypt in January attracted the attention of the New York Times.

Carlton anticipates that the bill will be re-written and re-submitted at a future date.

In other campus BDS news, UC-San Diego’s student council voted 13-10-4 in favor of a similar bill on Wednesday night in favor of divestment, but a decision was delayed until next week after a meeting attended by "hundreds of students" according to The Guardian, UC-San Diego’s student newspaper.

Similar measures recommending divestment from companies that allegedly provide military support for Israel have also been passed during the 2009-2010 school year by the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

Wayne State University's student council has also voted for total divestment from Israeli military suppliers in the past and the Irish Confederation of Trade Unions is also currently searching for ways to support the BDS movement.


Fresh Divestment Struggles:

At UC-San Diego Wednesday, and at Georgetown too--

At Georgetown University:

"Divestment Coalition Receives Negative Response from GU"

By Elizabeth Rowe | Apr 30, 2010

THE HOYA (Georgetown University; Washington, DC), at:

The administration dealt a blow to Georgetown, Divest!, a coalition of students on campus that wants the university to divest from companies that may profit from human rights abuses in Israel and Palestine, on Tuesday.

Assistant Vice President for Business Policy and Planning LaMarr Billups wrote a letter to Georgetown, Divest! stating that the administration would not modify its investment practices.

Referencing the coalition’s April 9 meeting with a senior team of administrators, Billups wrote, “At that meeting you asked if Georgetown University would divest from managed funds that own stocks in certain companies that do business with Israel. The answer to that question is no.”

The question of divestment is a difficult one, since the university does not invest directly in companies, but rather in managed funds. The Investment Office does not make its investments public.

“Georgetown’s investment practices do not include the selection of individual securities,” Director of Media Relations Andy Pino said. “As a result, the question of divestment does not apply.”

Still, Georgetown, Divest! member and Vice President of Students for Justice in Palestine Jackson Perry (COL ’12) said he knows Georgetown, Divest!’s struggles are not for nothing.

“First of all, [Chief Investment Officer Larry Kochard] told us that he believed we were invested in Caterpillar,” Perry said. Caterpillar is one of the companies that Georgetown, Divest! has asked the university to divest from.

Perry added, “Condoms and cohabitation are not permitted on campus because they are not in keeping with the Jesuit values of the institution, yet the administration thinks our Jesuit values shouldn’t play a role in investment decisions at all? This is hypocrisy.”

Other schools around the country are also pushing university administrations to divest.

According to a press release from the chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California, Berkeley, students have been working to pass a bill through the UC Berkeley Student Senate on divestment since March.

On Wednesday, the Georgetown University Student Association Senate met to vote on a bill that would urge the university to divest from two companies that profit from the manufacture of weapons for the Israeli Army. The student senate failed to override the veto on the bill, falling short by just one vote.

Other American universities that have called for divestment include the University of Michigan Dearborn, Hampshire College and the University of Wisconsin.

“Changing the status quo is one of the hardest things for anyone to do,” Perry said. “However, we are optimistic that the right amount of pressure from various directions, including especially the constant reminder of the moral values of our university itself, will break through the bureaucratic inertia and amoral mindset that is currently dominating the way the university has responded.”


At the University of California - San Diego,

“I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again":

"Council Delays Decision On Human Rights Violations:

"After emotional public input and a complete rewrite of the divestment resolution, proponents plan to reintroduce original language next week."

By Angela Chen

April 29, 2010

THE GUARDIAN (University of California at San Diego)


Hundreds of students gathered at the A.S. Forum last night to watch the council debate a controversial resolution calling for the University of California to stop investing in companies providing military technology to Israel. The resolution identified the Palestinian territories as being occupied by a military force guilty of committing human rights violations against the Palestinian people. The council ultimately voted 13-10-4 to create a committee to further discuss the resolution.

The resolution, which was modeled after a similar effort at UC Berkeley, called for the UC Board of Regents to divest endowment funds from corporations such as General Electric and United Technologies. According to the resolution, these companies manufacture technology used in military weapons and vehicles, such as helicopters, used in war crimes in the Middle East.

According to Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh — who helped draft the document — the resolution is not the first of its kind. However, Ghosh said, if it had passed, it would have been the first recognition of Israel’s war crimes to be approved at a public university. Hampshire College, a private college in Massachusetts, has already divested entirely from the state of Israel. (The resolution considered by the council last night only advocated a break from corporations said to profit from Israel’s alleged war crimes....)

...Ghosh said that he would bring up the resolution again at the 2009-10 council’s final meeting of the year, which will be held next week.

“Next time I won’t bring up the compromised document but instead the original document,” he said. “I’m just going to keep bringing it up again and again and it might take 10 years, but divestment will pass."