UMich faculty senate approves Israel divestment resolution that cites data from Hamas terror org

​The University of Michigan Faculty Senate passed a resolution urging its Board of Regents to divest from companies who have financial ties to Israel.

The University of Michigan Faculty Senate voted to urge its Board of Regents to divest from companies that have financial ties to Israel.

According to the Michigan Daily, the resolution passed by a vote of 38 yes, 17 no and five abstaining on Monday.

The Faculty Senate resolution, which was approved, used data from the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health.

During an October 26, 2023 White House press briefing, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that the Gaza Ministry of Health is run by the terrorist organization Hamas.

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”Well, we all know that the Gazan Ministry of Health is just a front for Hamas. It’s a — it’s run by Hamas, a terrorist organization. I’ve said it myself up here: We can’t take anything coming out of Hamas, including the so-called Ministry of Health, at face value,” Kirby said.

”[T]he Faculty Senate Assembly calls upon the University’s leadership, including the Board of Regents, to divest from its financial holdings in companies that invest in Israel’s ongoing military campaign in Gaza,” the resolution states. 

University of Michigan History and African Studies Professor Derek Peterson, who sponsored the resolution, said during the meeting that several public records requests asking for information about investments have been turned down.

“The University has turned down several FOIA requests demanding information about the makeup of the University’s investments to do with Israel,” Peterson said. “And the resolution that this very body passed in early November last year asking for information about the extent of the University’s investment in Israel has gone unanswered, despite the fact that it was acknowledged as received by the Office of the President.”

Notably, the resolution states that its passage isn’t a call for the regents to end support with “any of U-M’s partnerships with Israeli colleges or universities or to otherwise imply ending any assistance provided to faculty and students in support of research and education in Israel.

Peterson told Campus Reform: ”Regardless of whether you trust the Gaza Ministry of Health’s numbers or not, the evidence—reported widely, by unimpeachable sources—is that the Israeli military is conducting this campaign with little regard to the loss of innocent lives. It’s the most indiscriminately destructive military campaign in recent history.”

”So I was very much pleased to see this resolution get across the line,” Peterson said. “The University of Michigan was on the wrong side of history in the 1970s and 80s, when leadership resisted student demands to divest from companies that did business with apartheid South Africa. It took extraordinary measures--an act of the state legislature--to finally get the University’s leadership to agree to divest, and even then, they did so with great reluctance,” he added. “The motion passed by the Assembly this week builds on a basic principle: that being the ‘leaders and the best’ (which is the University’s fight song) is an ethical vocation, not only an academic or athletic mission. I hope that the Regents see in the resolution an opening to reconsider Michigan’s financial position, and to accept that our money should not be used to fund a bloody, inhumane war.”

The resolution also stated that the University of Michigan announced in 2022 that it would pull back its investments in Russia, in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

University of Michigan Chief Financial Officer Geoffrey Chatas spoke during the meeting, stating that the Board of Regents affirmed in fall 2023 that it would not look into divestment.

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“It has been the University’s unwavering policy to shield the endowment from political pressures and to base its investment decisions on financial factors such as risk,” Chatas said. “And just as recently as this last fall, when we were approached to consider the topic at hand, the Board decided to reaffirm that they would not take up the topic of divestment in Israel at this time.”

Mark Rosentraub, professor of sport management at the Ann Arbor, Michigan university, said the resolution would divide the campus more.

“This will do nothing more than divide this campus further and further,” Rosentraub said. “With the Faculty Senate not proposing anything in a constructive sense about what it’s going to do to try to build a bridge towards peace, what we’ll do is we’ll further divide our campus into those who support one group versus the other. That will continue to tear us apart.”