All for the Palestinians Stand Up and Holler

Ah, spring is in the air. Time for an annual tradition spreading across college campuses. Let's give it up for Israel Apartheid Week! UC Berkeley recently held such a week. Sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine and supported by the Muslim Student Association, the event apparently served its purpose. Immediately following Israel Apartheid Week, the ASUC, the student senate at UC Berkeley, voted in favor of Bill 118: A Bill in Support of UC Divestment from War Crimes. Citing the "occupation" by Israel and overall "war crimes" committed by Israel, the ASUC approved to divest funds from G.E. and United Technologies, which materially and militarily support Israel. Seems as if the ASUC tore a page right out of the SJP playbook, which calls for college students to help punish the "Apartheid State of Israel" by demanding that their schools divest their financial assets from all companies that conduct business in Israel.

After ASUC president Will Smelko vetoed the passage of the bill, the ASUC met on April 14 to overturn his veto. They needed fourteen votes. The meeting, which lasted until dawn, ended with thirteen votes and one abstention. For now, the vote has been tabled. I contacted a UC Berkeley student who was at the April 14 meeting. Rachel Horning, a 19-year-old sophomore, has been elected to serve next year on the ASUC. Although not an official part of the vote, she did participate in the ten-hour long debate that occurred before the vote.

Although Horning is quick to point out that she wants the Middle-East conflict to end favorably for both sides, she still says, "The decisions made by a group of 18- to 22-year-olds regarding age-old politics has no place within the ASUC." Pointing out a glaring problem with the bill, which was discussed at length at the April 14 vote, Horning says, "The ASUC has no investments in either company listed in the bill, and hasn't since 2008, thus proving that this bill is more of a symbolic jab at the Jewish community at Cal than an actual call for boycott. The existence of the bill altogether serves not to actually divest from companies supplying Israel with tools for committing 'war crimes.' We have nothing to divest from!"

I applaud Horning for recognizing the gross attempt by the ASUC to play "armchair quarterback" from their campus. As Netanyahu once said, "Israel's security needs naturally look different from the banks of the Potomac than from the banks of Jordan." The ASUC states that they are armed with facts which validate their stance. Yet their facts are gathered from an all-star lineup of organizations with a long history of bias against Israel: the United Nations, with its pièce de résistance, the Goldstone report; the International Red Cross; the Human Rights Watch; and Amnesty International (which recently announced the condoning of jihad "when done in self-defense"). Which brings us to the million dollar question to ask the ASUC: What about Israel's right to self-defense? But realistically, why should college students consider the situation from Israel's point of view when not even world leaders extend that courtesy?

President Carter and Nelson Mandela propagate "Israeli Apartheid," so why wouldn't college students run with the idea? When Hamas claims that its message is reaching the White House, why should it come as a surprise that it is reaching college campuses, too? When the "hip" president so quickly turns against Israel, why wouldn't it be "en vogue" for college students to turn against Israel? Boston University, DePaul, UConn, University of Houston, NYU, Columbia, UCLA -- the list continues to grow of campuses hosting events which are blatantly anti-Israel. And of course, we can't leave out UC Irvine, the poster-child for anti-Semitism. Hamas and Hezb'allah are openly celebrated, supported, and allegedly funded by students on campus. During one event at UC Irvine, speaker Malik-Ali, who openly speaks of jihad, was challenged by a Jew in the audience and responded by saying, "If history is any indication, there will be peace when you are gone." Malik-Ali has also been a guest speaker at UC Berkeley.