RAMALLAH, Mar. 21 (JMCC) - A student government body at the The University of California - Berkeley, a prominent American university located in northern California, voted last Thursday to divest any University money from companies doing business with Israel.
The bill--titled 'Divestment from War Crimes'--received a vote of 16-4 in the Student senate meeting which lasted until the early hours of the morning and was attended by a large crowd of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters.
It’s our job to condemn unethical treatment, explained Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, a student co-author of the bill, to The Berkeley Daily Planet. We want to make a statement about what can be done with student government funds. But the more significant thing is we don’t want our university to support war crimes.
The bill's critics complained that it unfairly singled out Israel while other 'war crimes' are being committed all over the world. Alan Dershowitz, a prominent American legal academic and staunch supporter of Israel immediately condemned the vote and issued a statement.
Divesting from Israel is immoral, bigoted and if done by a state university illegal,” Dershowitz said. “It encourages terrorism and discourages peace. Any university that would actually divest from Israel will be subjected to countermeasures—financial, legal, academic and political. We will fight back against this selective bigotry that hurts the good name of the University of California. This misuse of the university’s name does not represent the views of students, faculty, alumni and other constituents of the greater Berkeley community. Instead it represents the hijacking of the university for improper ideological purposes. It must be rejected immediately and categorically.
The bill was specifically targeted at two major corporations, General Electric and United Technologies, which support Israel with weapons.
UC Berkeley has become the first major American university to take such measures against Israel. Berkeley follows the smaller Hampshire College in Massachusetts, which was the first American university to officially divest from companies conducting business with Israel, last year.