Student Government urges California State University at Long Beach to Divest from firms in Israel

12 May
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CSULB Student Senators Meeting of May 10; Photo by Barry Saks

After dozens of speakers, pro and con, during the public comments, with more than a hundred people, mostly students in the audience, on Wednesday, May 10,  the California State University Long Beach student representatives (senators) of the Associated Students Inc. voted 15-7 with one abstention to support a resolution urging the school administration to divest in firms doing business with the government of Israel.

One of those in the audience was Juwairiah Syed, who said she is a third-year student, who in the fall is going to declare deaf studies and American-sign language as her majors. Syed added she’s a member of the Muslim Student Association and the Vice President of the CSULB Interfaith Project, which its About Facebook page states it is “a diverse group of CSULB students – Muslims, Christians, agnostics, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, Hindus, Catholics, and more – who are committed to growing in our understanding of one another and of our spiritual and religious traditions.”  She said, “I am here today because …. the voting is done by our senators in there and they need to see  that the people on our campus support divestment.”

CSULB President Jane Close Conely in a April 26 letter to the student senators, in part, said, “The Jewish people have been the targets of suspicion, violence, discrimination, and ostracism for centuries. They have suffered institutional racism in the United States and dozens of countries across the world. Israel’s actions against the Palestinians may certainly be critiqued, but what about Syria’s actions against its own people, Brazil’s brazen violations of human rights, North Korea’s imprisonment of an entire nation, or Russia’s current war on their LGBTQ+ community? Why are only Jews picked out for condemnation? It’s worth reflecting, I think, on implicit bias when singling out only one group of people for sanctions.”

Palestine Legal, in a May 3 letter to President Conely, responded.  The letter said, “(W)e write to raise serious concerns about your public statement surrounding campus debates on Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS), in which you blame students concerned with Israeli human rights abuses for causing campus antisemitism, without evidence…. conflating criticism of Israeli policy with anti-Jewish hate undermines efforts to combat bigotry.  Moreover, despite your professed concern about addressing hate, your office has been silent in response to an explicit death threat targeting the campus Muslim community.”

A May 4 post on 49ers for Israel Facebook reads, “Divestment does nothing to help anyone. It does not help Palestinians, it does not help the peace process, and it does not help our campus community. What it does do is promote a hateful campaign against Israeli, Jewish, and pro-Israel students and faculty on campus. Divestment is a poisonous piece of legislation that does not belong on our campus or any campus for that matter!”

Barry Saks is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

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CSULB Divestment Banner, May 10; Photo by Barry Saks

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