Pro-Israel Strategy Faces Campus Setbacks

Divestment Push Advances at Brown and Cal-Irvine

Campus Debate: Students at the University of California-Irvine debate a proposal to call for divestment from Israel.
josh Friedman
Campus Debate: Students at the University of California-Irvine debate a proposal to call for divestment from Israel.

By Seth Berkman

Published November 29, 2012, issue of December 07, 2012.
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Siegel described UC Irvine as a hub of anti-Israel activity at the time of the Oren speech. He said that after the diplomat’s talk was disrupted, he moved quickly to meet with Chancellor Michael Drake. Siegel suggested partnerships to increase contacts and educational exchanges between the university and Israel.

Drake visited Israel this past April, and there he met with President Shimon Peres and signed agreements to collaborate with Ben-Gurion University, Hebrew University, Technion — Israel Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University.

After the student legislature’s divestment resolution passed, UC Irvine’s administration released a statement describing itself as “extremely pleased with recent global collaboration between leaders and researchers here and those at top universities around the world, including Israel.”

In May 2011, the Forward reported that since 2005 there had been only 17 instances of serious BDS activity. Last October, The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise released a study stating that 97% of American and Canadian college campuses report no anti-Israel or anti-Semitic events. But some advocates say that the recent Israeli military actions in Gaza, which came soon after the actions at UC Irvine and Brown, could give a boost to the campus BDS movement.

Sabreen Shalabi, an author of the UC Irvine resolution and member of Irvine Divest, a campus group formed after the resolution passed, wrote to the Forward in an email: “The horrific images coming from Gaza should highlight the importance of being proactive when it comes to matters of international law and human rights. First and foremost, we should examine how our own universities and governments are complicit in these crimes by supplying funds and resources that are used to kill and oppress innocent people.”


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