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UCI Student Senate Repeals BDS Resolution

Jewish Journal

Aaron Bandler


Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The UC Irvine (UCI) Student Senate on March 31 repealed a 2012 resolution calling for the university to divest from companies that conduct business with Israel. Associated Students of UC Irvine (ASUCI) Senator Marshall H. Roe introduced a resolution to repeal R48-15 — the divestment resolution — on March 12. The resolution stated that R48-15 had created a hostile campus climate against Jewish students and that its labeling of Israel as an apartheid state was a Blood Libel. The resolution also denounces the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as being “contrary to the foundational ideals of Higher Education and thus the values of the UC.” The final vote tally at the March 31 meeting was 15 in favor, six against and two abstentions.

Roe, a Jewish student and Navy veteran, said during the meeting that the BDS movement “created a noxious atmosphere [against Jewish students on campus].” “I believe that embracing neutrality on this matter and thus repealing R48-15 would dispel the noxious atmosphere and create neutrality on campus, a neutrality that would foster an environment of reconciliation rather than rancor,” he added.

Roe elaborated on his noxious atmosphere remark in an April 14 phone interview with the Journal, explaining that during the fall quarter, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) screamed at members of UC Irvine’s Hillel outside a Starbucks and then just watched them for a while. “It’s clear the point was intimidation,” he said. Roe also said that he reached out to SJP to have a dialogue with its members, and then a few days later he received a threat on Twitter. “I would like to have dialogue on campus,” Roe said. “For those of us who support Israel, we want to actually talk to the other side.” He said that his argument of neutrality was what won over the majority of the ASUCI Senate to repeal R48-15. “The Senate felt it was impossible to have a constructive campus conversation about the conflict without embracing neutrality…I think, in many ways BDS legislation, helped to create a noxious environment that has allowed years of harassment,” Roe said. Jewish groups applauded the move. “UC Irvine divestment originally passed at a time when major BDS initiatives on campus were relatively few and far between,” StandWithUs CEO and Co-Founder Roz Rothstein said in an April 14 statement to the Journal. “These campaigns became much more frequent after that, subjecting Jewish and pro-Israel students across the U.S. to hatred, intimidation, and harassment. We’re proud of all the student activists who have fought against these hateful campaigns over the years, and congratulate the UC Irvine student government for finally rescinding this destructive resolution.” AMCHA Initiative director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “We heartily commend the UCI student government for acknowledging how the 2012 anti-Israel divestment resolution, although ostensibly directed at Israel, has actually harmed students on UCI’s campus and created a noxious campus climate for all. While masquerading as a human rights campaign, these divestment resolutions are, in truth, a PR device meant to divide the campus, shut down discourse and debate, and marginalize and incite hate against those students who support Israel, as we have seen at UCI with numerous incidents of harassment toward Jewish and pro-Israel students as a direct result of BDS activities.” She added that AMCHA’s research has shown that a strong correlation between BDS and anti-Semitism toward Jewish students on campuses across the country, including attempts to exclude Jewish and pro-Israel from campus activities. AMCHA, which means “your people” or “your nation” in Hebrew, is a nonprofit based in Santa Cruz. “Kudos to the UCI student leaders for joining the growing number of students who are no longer falling into this hate-filled trap,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “We hope their actions in repealing the 2012 divestment vote will serve as a model of courageous student leadership for all campuses.” Students Supporting Israel at UCI also said in a statement that its members were elated at the repeal of the divestment resolution. “Pro-Israel advocates for years have worked to stop and repeal BDS,” the group said. “No longer will the blatant anti-Semitism that has pervaded the UCI campus be sanctioned or tacitly consented to. It’s just amazing to hear such good news even in these uncertain times.” UCI’s SJP chapter did not respond to the Journal’s response for comment. Read the article here.


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