In emotional meeting UC-Riverside student government votes to rescind divestment from Israel plan

The student government at University of California – Riverside voted 10-2 to rescind a resolution that had called for school administrators to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

The UC Riverside student government on Wednesday night voted to rescind a resolution that called on administrators to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

The hotly contested vote took place at around 11:30 pm on Wednesday, and was designed to correct a March 6 vote for divestment, which many students said was held hastily and unfairly, following a controversial presentation from UCR’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

“Their presentation was full of wild accusations, libelous, and since nobody got a chance to really answer them, the senators voted without really realizing what they were voting on,” Philippe Assouline, a research associate for the pro-Israel organization Stand With Us, told Campus Reform.

“Once that became apparent to them, they reconvened to reconsider, and this time the opponents of divestment made their case, and I guess swayed the senators to realize that it was wrong in substance and also divisive to the campus.”

A live Twitter stream from SPJ reflected the charged atmosphere leading up to the vote.

“Hokooka tells about family in Palestine she stayed with, & witnessing a Caterpillar bulldozer demolish a home. #UCRdivest,“ read one of the SJP’s tweets.

A series of Tweets also detailed one divestment opponent’s story about his uncle’s death in a terrorist attack in Israel:

”I do not hate [the suicide bomber]. Let me make that clear. I hate the people that segregate us-- the people who put this resolution to the Senate a month ago,” the student said, according to the account.

Assouline, who said he attended both votes, said students who opposed the divestment did not find out about the initial vote in March until about 20 hours before it was held, while SJP had a month and a half to prepare the presentation.

In an article he wrote for the Huffington Post, Assouline said the first vote consisted of “4 or 5 surprised UCR students to speak disjointedly against the motion, while the SJP arrived with dozens of supporters delivering a well-oiled series of tested sound bytes.”

The article also quoted an excerpt from a piece published in Haaretz on March 17, which reports that SJP waited to inform anti-divestment activists about the impending vote on purpose:

“Amal Ali, the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Riverside, said keeping the resolution under wraps was the only way to ‘level the playing field,’” it states.

Assouline told Campus Reform that not only the tactics but also the content of the presentation was unfair.

SJP did not respond to a request for comment on the article.

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