warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

UCLA Student Government Passes Divestment Resolution

Lior Haykeen |
November 19, 2014 | 5:09 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

The undergraduate student government at University of California Los Angeles voted 8-2-2 at its meeting Tuesday night to pass a resolution that calls for the university to divest from American companies that support Israel.

Read More: Israel and Gaza: Proposals for Peace

About 250 students attended the Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) meeting, which lasted for more than four hours, according to the Daily Bruin

Following the meeting, Avinoam Baral, president of USAC who was born in Jerusalem, Israel, posted a Facebook status in which he expressed sadness.

“Never in my wildest expectations did I ever think that my experience in USAC would be utterly and completely absorbed by a single piece of my identity—my personal connection to my homeland,” he said in his status. 

Some Jewish UCLA community members, who operate in support of Israel year-round, are not frustrated by the resolution’s passing.

“The pro-Israel community at UCLA is stronger and more united now than it has been in years,” said Arielle Mokhtarzadeh, Bruins for Israel’s (BFI) director of public relations and a freshman at UCLA.

Instead of attending the USAC meeting and speaking against the resolution as BFI members did at the 12-hour meeting in which a similar resolution was discussed last year, Mokhtarzadeh and other community members at UCLA held a meeting in which they commemorated the lives of those killed in the recent terror attacks in Israel.

“We decided not to subject ourselves to the hatred that would be spewed left and right,” Mokhtarzadeh said. “We will no longer allow BDS and SJP to define us and our experiences on our campus.”

Members of UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which presented the resolution to USAC in the first place, feel that the resolution is an important stepping stone.

“Even though this doesn’t mean that the university will actually divest, this shows that we, as students, do not agree with investments in Israel,” said Omar Attar, SJP Outreach co-director and a Computer Science major at UCLA. “The idea is to show that there’s enough support to divest.”

In reaction to BFI’s decision to hold a separate meeting the same night as the vote took place, Baral said in his Facebook status that he is “proud” about the way his community handled the situation.

“It should come to no surprise that students with personal ties to Israel feel targeted on campus,” he also said. “They feel targeted because we, as a student government have allowed them to be targeted.”

Much like Baral, Heather Rosen, USAC’s financial supports commissioner and one of the two members who voted against the resolution, feels saddened,she said.

“I’m disappointed with the vote from last night,” she said. “I spoke out against the resolution because it does not represent all students.”

In a Facebook status she posted Wednesday afternoon, Rosen apologized for the vote’s results.

“I am sorry that the council that I am a part of voted on an issue that would make students on this campus feel unsafe at their own university,” she wrote.

Rosen is the daughter of a Christian mother and a Jewish father, and the home she grew in made her an open-minded person, she said.

“My status mostly says my opinions,” she told Neon Tommy. “I’m saddened.”

Contact Staff Reporter Lior Haykeen here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.