By Debbie Menon
Disappointing, but this shows the immense power that “the Organization” has to overturn popular demand against amazing majority numbers in the face of all reason and “democratic” principle.
And, it also illustrates the cupidity, weakness, and failures of moral principles of elected representatives worldwide to stand up for principle and the will of their constituency when confronted with, promises, offers, influence, coercion, intimidation and probably blackmail, as well as greed and ambition.
The Administration of the University may have the power to veto student propositions, but they certainly do not have a moral right to do so on propositions such as this one. If the voice of the students are not to be heard, they should shout louder and every one of them go on strike, and picket the entire University until it comes to a standstill.
Large amounts of grant money which supports the University, most of which comes from AIPAC, ADL and American-Jewish controlled foundations in America, is important, but students and American student satisfaction are ESSENTIAL to its survival!
Every student at UCB has the option of transferring to UCLA, UCSD or any UC elsewhere.
Berkeley has always been the leader among US Campuses in leading revolutionary and reactionary social and cultural movements. Without the voice of its students it would become just another California cow college.
I am sure that this vote cost someone a lot of money, power and promises, as well as a lot of arm-twisting!
Yes, there is a victory here of sorts; a victory in disclosing the face and the might of the enemy, and how he works. “Know thine enemy,” is a prerequisite to achieving victory over him. And as long as they have learned from this defeat, then they have profited in a small way.
At least, they now have the names of seven enemies who sit in the same room with them. There will be more elections in the future.
I have no doubt that the students at Berkeley will remember who voted for, and who voted against.
Read full report by Cecilie Surasky:
April 28 in the Pauley Ballroom of UC Berkeley
UC Berkeley vote: a small loss, an enormous win
I have been an activist since I was a teenager, and yet, the night of April 28 in the Pauley Ballroom of UC Berkeley will surely stand out as one of the most remarkable activist achievements I have ever witnessed.
And I am grateful that you were there, represented by thousand of green stickers: each with a name, a place, an identity.
While the senate at UC San Diego sent a similar proposal to a committee for further study, divestment proponents at Berkeley failed by just one vote to reverse a presidential veto of their original overwhelming vote to divest. The members of Berkeley’s Students for Justice in Palestine wanted UC to divest from 2 companies that profit from killing and harming of civilians as part of Israel’s occupation. Yes, companies that make money from death. From control. From destruction. They needed 14 votes out of 20 to overturn the veto. Despite truly heroic efforts on the part of countless students, including such impressive student senators, in the end they had 13 votes. The 14th abstained.
And yet, if you ask the question, after weeks of multiple hearings and votes, Who really won here?, the numbers speak for themselves:
Nearly 30 hours of hearings and testimony with standing room only audiences and in some cases, people flying in from other parts of the country to testify, others sending video or being Skyped in from Palestine and Gaza.
The support of some 100 professors, over 40 student groups, 5 Nobel Laureates, 9 Israeli peace groups, 263 community Jews in one ad plus 40 pages and growing of notable Jewish endorsements, some 8,000 JVP supporters like you from around the globe who in just 5 days created a sea of visible support.
At this last and final hearing alone, there were 500 people, standing room only.
A speaker asked the supporters of divestment to stand up: nearly 80% stood.
A senator announced that 62% of that night’s registered speakers were pro-divest, while 38% were against.
After everything, 13 of 20 senators at one of the United States’ leading academic institutions stood clearly on the side of divestment.
And that’s why so many left with a feeling of both anger and jubilation. But more than anything, determination.
If the theme of the all-night hearing in mid April-at which a final vote was tabled- was that there was every bit as much, if not more Jewish support for divestment as against it on the UC campus, the narrative running through April 28th’s all-night session was that this is about the Palestinian story, Palestinian resilience, Palestinian humanity and one day, in their quest for justice and full equality, Palestinian victory.
Imagine hours and hours of testimony from Palestinian and Arab student after student, each standing in front of a microphone and hundreds to tell their story- stories of broken bones, destroyed homes, arbitrary imprisonment and torture. Stories of bombs through living room windows, and strips searches at checkpoints. Stories of not being able to learn because schools are closed down for years at a time. Stories that until now seemed to have been banished from the public square because the mere fact of their telling, and in so doing asserting the full beauty and humanity of the teller, has been taken as a threat.
But not on this night. Not for these hours. Not in this room.
Unless they physically plugged their ears and closed their eyes, there was not one person in that room who was not forever changed by hearing those students. Not the 80% who supported divestment. And not the 20% who didn’t.
Many of you personally helped make the room a sea of green of support. In just 5 days, over 8,000 people from all over the country, many from all over the world, said, “we stand with you.” We printed out thousands of stickers and they became like trading cards as people poured over your names and statements. “Oh look, David is a rabbinical student from Philadelphia. Dina is a Muslim teacher from New York. Let me wear Izak, a Quaker from Boston. No, wait, I’m wearing the Zeyde (grandfather) from Atlanta.” I saw more than one Palestinian student wearing a green sticker on her heart as she stood at the microphone, showing the most remarkable kind of courage. The kind required to tell your most painful family story, a story of death and heartbreak, without knowing it would actually be heard by those in front of you. But I know she was supported in telling her story by the massive visible support you showed her. We all felt it.
There are so many lessons to be learned from these past weeks, from what started as a nonviolent call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) from Palestinians in 2005, moved to US campuses like Hampshire and University of Michigan at Dearborn, and is now just beginning to spread across the country.
Divestment is a tactic meant to build a movement for justice and equality, not an end unto itself. The outcome of the vote became far less important than the way the fight for the bill electrified the campus, the community, and thousands of people all over the world. It’s impossible to convey the life changing and movement-building impact of this experience.
Take Emily Carlton, an ASUC senator who sponsored the bill. She spoke eloquently of starting out as a “privileged white, mainstream” sorority member who first became educated about the issue when SJP students came to lobby her, but who then found an entirely new community of friends in a world she never before knew existed. One in which Muslim, Arab, Jewish, Christian, and other students blend easily as classmates, as friends, as activists. Her life, she said, will never be the same- and she is just one person.
In the coming weeks, we will share the lessons learned, some in our own words, many in the words of UC students, staff and alum.
But first let me tell you how the night ended.
By the final vote, it was close to 5am. Still dark out.
When the vote was announced, the room silently received the news. Supporters placed the green stickers on our mouths to protest the fact that in the end, just a few votes had blocked the will of the majority of students. A student senator stood up and told everyone to put one hand on their heart on the other in the air, symbolically holding seeds in their fist with which we would all spread the movement outside and across the community, the country, the world.
So here is one seed.
The supporters silently filed out to Sproul Plaza, where the original Free Speech movement began.
Hundred remained outside, talking, chanting, singing, laughing, hugging, crying.
Yes, students were angry, but they were exhilarated. They understood they had done something remarkable. That in so many ways, life would never be the same.
It was the end of a long year, but the beginning of a new stage of the movement.
And I am so grateful that you were all there in the room with us.
It’s clear now. It is only a matter of time until we are all able to recognize each other’s full humanity, and thereby reclaim our own.
Jewish Voice for Peace
Power and Money had the Upperhand. It won’t be always like that.
TomVeeTV — April 29, 2010 — After the UC Berkeley Senate voted 16-4 to divest from companies complicit in war crimes committed by Israel during operation Cast Lead (General Electric and United Technologies) the bill was vetoed by President Will Smelko.
After two nights of lengthy debate and incredible external pressure the veto was upheld, but the attention the bill attracted and the coming together of so many different communities in favor of the bill makes this a victory for Students for Justice in Palestine and their supporters.
UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine have provided an impressive example of how to divest from companies who profit from the suffering of oppressed people in Palestine and around the world.
Video: 4:30 AM Rally After UC Berkeley Senate Upholds Veto
I am very proud and immensely appreciative of the great U C Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine and the wide coalition they built for the BDS campaign and the cause of peace with justice. The struggle continues. We shall overcome.
Special thanks to JVP and Enrique Ferro for this report.