UCSC student gov't votes to divest from Israel, pressures Jewish rep. to abstain
Members of the University of California Santa Cruz student government reportedly pressured a Jewish student representative to abstain from voting on an anti-Israel divestment resolution over fears of a “Jewish agenda” at work on campus.
The Student Union Assembly at UC Santa Cruz voted last week to divest from five companies that the students say are complicit in human rights violations by making the equipment used by the Israeli military.
The resolution called for UCSC to divest from Hewlett Packard (HP), for example, because “HP systems are installed in Israeli military checkpoints.”
General Electric, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, and Elbit were also named in the resolution, which claimed that UCSC “should not have a vested interest in companies that perpetuate systematic oppression and exploitation—whether based on national origin, religion, gender, race, or sexual orientation.”
While divestment campaigns have previously been slammed as “Jew-hating campaigns,” UCSC’s divestment resolution has generated extra accusations of Anti-Semitism over the intentional exclusion of student representative Daniel Bernstein over concerns that he was elected by a “Jewish agenda.”
Bernstein, who represents Stevenson College in the Student Union Assembly, reportedly received a message from the chair of the Stevenson student council informing him that the council had voted to exclude him from the vote over concerns that he was elected by “a Jewish agenda and that the Jewish community rallied with [Bernstein] to elect [him] the Stevenson rep.”
Stanley Traub, the Vice President of Slugs for Israel (UCSC’s mascot is the Banana Slug) told Campus Reform that he believes there was a “strong Anti-Semitic sentiment” behind the divestment vote.
“I condemn the divestment vote because it has already brought upon an Anti-Semitic climate to UC Santa Cruz,” Traub said. “I have seen posts on social media after the vote was passed such as ‘Hitler did nothing wrong’ as well as various other Holocaust-associated ‘jokes’,” Traub continued. Screenshots provided to Campus Reform appear to confirm the Anti-Semitic social media posts.
“Additionally, I personally feel embarrassed to be a Jewish student of a university with a student body that has stated it doesn’t support my homeland as well as that of the Jewish people.”
The University of California system was hit with allegations of Anti-Semitism last year, after a slew of Anti-Semitic incidents across the UC campuses. In one instance, a Jewish student at UCLA was denied a student government position over concerns that she would be “unable to maintain an unbiased view” because she was “a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community.”
Bernstein reportedly defied the pressure and voted no on the resolution. It passed with a 28-5 tally, with seven abstentions.
Campus Reform contacted the Chair of the Stevenson Student Council to confirm the veracity of the message but he did not reply in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @peterjhasson
Editor's Note: This article has been amended since its initial publication. The headline originally stated that Bernstein had been forced to abstain, however he defied the pressure and voted no.