Cal-Berkeley student government reportedly endorses divestment

NEW YORK (JTA) — The student government at the University of California, Berkeley reportedly endorsed a divestment bill. 

The Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley passed the bill by a wide margin early Thursday morning, it was reported.

The Daily Californian had reported that the association was considering the bill late Wednesday night.

The bill calls for divestment of ASUC assets from General Electric and United Technologies "because of their military support of the occupation of Palestinian territories." It further claims that the move is not an expression of support for either Israel or the Palestinians, but rather is "a principled expression of support for universal human rights and equality."

Despite global efforts by pro-Palestinian groups, no American university has yet taken steps to divest specifically from companies alleged to support Israel’s military presence in the Palestinian Authority. Last year, Hampshire College’s trustees approved a measure to divest from 200 companies deemed to be in violation of the school’s investment guidelines, among them a number of companies that do business with Israel.

A student group, Students for Justice in Palestine, had initiated the process that led to that decision and subsequently claimed that the school had divested from Israel. The school denied that Israel had been targeted, an announcement endorsed by the Anti-Defamation League and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz. 

The Berkeley bill specifically names Israel, which it accuses of "collective punishment" of the Palestinians as well as settlement expansion and the "blockade" of Gaza. It also recommends further divestment from other regions where war crimes are alleged to be taking place, naming Morocco, the Congo "and other places as determined by the resolutions of the United Nations and other leading international human rights organizations."

"Divesting from Israel is immoral, bigoted and if done by a state university illegal," Dershowitz said in a statement Thursday. "It encourages terrorism and discourages peace. Any university that would actually divest from Israel will be subjected to countermeasures–financial, legal,academic and political. We will fight back against this selective bigotry that hurts the good name of the University of California."

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