NEW YORK (JTA) – A student senate at the University of California, Berkeley narrowly passed a measure calling on the school to divest from three companies with dealings in the West Bank.
Following 10 hours of sometimes heated debate, the Associated Students of the University of California senate early Wednesday morning passed the resolution in an 11-9 vote, the student newspaper, the Daily Californian, reported.
The resolution calls on the school to divest more than $14 million in university and Associated Students funds from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Cement Roadstone Holding, saying they profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Jewish settlements there.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, a proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, came to support the resolution. Many faculty and community members attended the debate.
"Tonight is not about corporations," Sadia Saifuddin, one of the resolution’s co-sponsors, told the Daily Californian, according to the j. weekly. "It’s about asking ourselves before we go to sleep whether our money is going toward the destruction of homes, toward the erection of a wall" — a reference to the security fence.
Saifuddin added, "I don’t want one cent of my money to go toward fueling the occupation of my brothers and sisters."
Jason Bell, an opponent of the divestment measure, told the student paper, according to the j., that the resolution language "frames Israel as the sole aggressor."
"This is more than just divesting from three companies," he said. "Divestment is undoubtedly taking a side in the conflict."
Similar resolutions have been passed at the University of California campuses in Irvine and San Diego.
The University of California, Riverside’s student government passed a BDS resolution last month that was overturned on April 3 — opponents argued that they were not given enough time to prepare for the vote. BDS measures also were rejected in the last two months at UC-Santa Barbara and Stanford University, the j. reported.