Israel/Palestine: Endorse UC Berkeley bid to divest from companies linked to Israeli occupation
For the first time in the University of California history, the UC Berkeley Student Senate has approved a bill to divest from two US companies in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and to Israel’s siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The Senate bill directs both the UC Regents and the Student Government to divest from two American companies, General Electric and United Technologies*. In addition, the bill creates a task force to look into furthering a socially responsible investment policy for the UC system. However, the bill has been vetoed, and in their campaign to override the veto on 14 April, led by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the Student Senate are up against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] that has launched a drive to take over student government at the UC Berkeley.
In 2009, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, became the first US educational institution to divest from companies directly involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Hampshire College action was advocated by the group Students for Justice in Palestine, and ultimately adopted by the Board of Trustees. If its student senate bill overrides the current presidential veto, UC Berkeley may becomes the first large, public US institution to endorse a similar measure.
*General Electric manufactures Apache helicopter engines; United Technologies manufactures Sikorsky helicopters and F-16 aircraft engines, both of which have been tied by human rights organizations to attacks on civilians in Lebanon and Gaza (as the bill explains).
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