Campaign urges SDSU divestment
February 17, 2014
A group of San Diego State students began a campaign last month to urge university officials to divest from companies they say profit from anti-Palestinian Israeli policies.
The campaign is led by a diverse group of students who are members of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Student Union for Representation and Justice. However, only one Palestinian is involved.
The committee’s goal is to pressure the university’s administration to pull investments out of corporations such as Caterpillar, General Electric, Hewlett Packard and Motorola among other companies that “play a role in Israel’s war crimes and human rights violations.”
Nadir Bouhmouch, SDSU’s Students for Justice in Palestine co-chair, said the campaign was inspired by student boycotts that helped end South Africa’s racist regime 30 years ago.
“These students had such an important role in bringing down the apartheid regime and today we are doing it again. It’s the ethical thing to do,” television, film and new media and international security and conflict resolution senior Bouhmouch said.
In an effort to demand the university to pull investments, Bouhmouch said this is a non-violent approach to pressuring companies to stop doing business with Israel amid losing contracts or support from investors such as SDSU.
But opposition to the campaign emerged in an official statement from Hillel of San Diego at SDSU Director Jackie Tolley.
Tolley said “students at SDSU would be better served with an effort to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” rather than a “resolution that is part of an international campaign whose hidden agenda is to eradicate the Jewish state and the only democracy in the Middle East.”
“To single out Jewish self-determination — or Zionism — for condemnation is itself a form of anti-Jewish racism,” Hillel said in the statement.
This spring, SDSU will join CSU Northridge to be the only two California State University campuses with student campaigns for divestment.
In the past two years, California campuses including the universities of California in Irvine, Berkeley and San Diego, have passed similar resolutions.
With the start of the campaign at SDSU, the resolution will now go through the legislative arms of Associated Students, the University Affairs Board, the University Council and finally the Board of Directors.
Ultimately, the university’s administration will take the Board of Directors’ advice into consideration and determine whether or not to go through with the resolution.
This decision is estimated to be made during the week of March 10.
“It will be a victory whether we win or lose, because we are using this campaign as an educational tool as well,” Bouhmouch said.
But Tolley considers the proposed resolution to be in need of “extraordinary resources” by A.S. when this is an international issue that she says most students on campus disagree on.
In the next month, SJP will hold student forums to present their case.
Both the SDSU divestment committee and Hillel are prepared to inform students about issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the campaign.
Photo courtesy of the Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook page.