Divestment demonstrates opposition to violent oppression

A senate resolution speaks out against contributing to Israel’s colonialism

By Alex Wells


The ASUCD senate recently began debate on Senate Resolution #20, which urges University of California regents to stop investing in companies that support Israel’s invasion, annexation, and colonization of the state of Palestine. This prompted a campus-wide debate in which some opponents of the bill questioned both its efficacy and the ideology that supports it.

Whether or not divestment (as the issue known on campus) would cause any kind of noticeable social or political change seems to be a moot point. The purpose of the bill is ideological rather than practical— to show support and solidarity for Palestinian citizens and to demonstrate efforts on the part of the regents to establish a safe space for Muslim students.

Ideological arguments are more worrisome. Israel’s actions regarding Palestine have violated, to quote the text of the bill itself, “customary international law and treaty law including the Fourth Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination… the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act”, to exclude specific United Nations resolutions.

Zionists and their supporters often point out that Palestine, too, is guilty of human rights abuses. This may well be true, but there are two important things to consider. First, instances of violence against its own citizens are not unique to Palestine at all— America itself has one of the most horrifying records of violence against its own citizens— but secondly, and perhaps more importantly, instances of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens are responses to colonialism. They almost exclusively take the form of terrorism, which has historically been the last resort of the oppressed. The Palestinians have no army anywhere near the size of Israel’s, no governing body recognized as legitimate by Israel, and they still have no active seat in the United Nations. Violence, as horrific as it is, remains the only way to fight back against the force that threatens their land, their water, their economy, their families, and their safety, and it will remain the only way until significant reparations are made.

There is one more point to be made, and this cannot be understated— the Israeli state could never become the colonial power it is today without a government and military buttressed by the United States. We as a country maintain our worldwide imperial presence by many morally questionable means; among the most historically successful of these has been the formation of a puppet state. While Israel may not be accurately described as one, it is excellently and strategically placed in a region hostile to American interests, and derives most of its economic welfare from American foreign aid and military assistance.

It may be a long time before these injustices are righted and restitutions can begin, but until then, even the smallest gesture can be a step forward, and divestment would demonstrate to the students of Davis that the university does not condone colonial violence.

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