June 17, 2013– On June 7, 2013, 36 members of the State Legislature, led by Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Budget Chair Bob Blumenfield, signed onto a letter to the UC Regents congratulating them on their stance against efforts by some UC student governments to urge University of California to divest from U.S. companies doing business with Israel. Read the Legislative Letter to UC Regents.
These legislators share the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC’s) concern that the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on UC campuses is a divisive and harmful tactic to antagonize and alienate Jewish students on campus, and serves to create further divisiveness rather than a solution that benefits both sides.
The list of signatories includes Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, Senate Appropriations Chair Kevin De Leon, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Ted Gaines, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Chair Mark Leno, Assembly Democratic Caucus chair Philip Ting, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, and Assembly Assistant majority floor leader Anthony Rendon.
Anti-Israel divestment resolutions – calling on the university system to divest from multinational companies that allegedly help Israel maintain its occupation in the West Bank – have been debated by student governments at more than a dozen universities across the country in the past few years. The tactic, however, gained traction this past year following the successful passage of resolutions on several University of California campuses.
Two of the successful resolutions, at UC Irvine and UC Riverside, were introduced surreptitiously. Pro-Israel students did not have the opportunity to express opposition to the resolutions at public discussions prior to the student government’s vote. In general, however, divestment resolutions considered elsewhere have been vigorously opposed by pro-Israel students on campus, Hillel representatives, community members and Jewish organizations.
Because these resolutions are non-binding, the university administration is not obligated to make financial decisions based on their recommendations. In addition, the University of California Board of Regents has an explicit policy against divestment. In each case where divestment resolutions succeeded, the university’s chancellor issued a statement reiterating the university’s anti-BDS stance and the UC system’s policy against BDS.
On May 21, 2013, JPAC held its annual Advocacy Day in Sacramento and discussed this important issue with the legislators we met with.
The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC) is the largest single-state coalition of Jewish organizations in the nation. Comprised of local Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Committees and Councils, and other Jewish community advocacy groups from throughout California we advocate on behalf of Jewish social service agencies, traditional community concerns, and broadly shared values that affect the citizens of our State.