Amid Ilhan Omar's anti-Semitic comments, Ivy League students push to 'divest' from Israel

On the heels of Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s recent anti-semitic comments, the Brown University student body will soon vote on a referendum demanding that the Ivy League university “divest” from any “stocks, funds, endowment and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine,” according to an announcement by the petitioning student group, Brown Divest.

The referendum was moved to be added to the March 16 ballot in a vote by two-thirds of the Undergraduate Council of Students following a debate between the opposing student groups, Brown Students for Israel and Brown Divest.

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“The #BrownDivest campaign is organized by a coalition of undergraduate students to identify and divest from companies that profit from Israeli violations of human rights,” the referendum reads. The Brown Divest referendum also notes that “Brown is a private institution that does not publicize its investments” but is calling for institutional transparency and demands that some of the known contracts Brown has are with companies that “engage in human rights violations” such as “Boeing, Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CO, Motorola Solutions Inc., Oaktree Capital Group LLC, Textron, Volvo, and The Safariland Group.” 

“We believe that by supporting such companies, Brown University is complicit in crimes against Palestinians,” the statement declares. “As Brown students, we should not tolerate our university profiting off of oppression.”

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Brown University’s undergraduate student body will be able to vote on the referendum from 12 p.m. on March 19 to 12 p.m. on March 21.

The Brown Divest referendum also notes that several other colleges across the country, such as Stanford, NYU, UCLA, and George Washington University have passed resolutions “calling for divestment from Palestinian suffering.”

The Brown Undergraduate Council of Students will vote to endorse, denounce, or abstain from the referendum prior to the student body vote, according to the student paper, the Brown Daily Herald.

The push for Brown University to divest comes amid bipartisan criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) over her recent anti-semitic comments, including the apparent suggestion that American Jews “pledge allegiance to a foreign country.” 

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