Divestment debate to continue

The fate of a divest-from-Israel resolution passed by the U.C. Berkeley student senate and vetoed by ASUC’s president a week later will likely be decided at a student senate meeting Wednesday, April 14.

The Associated Students of the University of California student senate, composed of 20 elected students, is expected to revisit the resolution, which urged U.C. divestment from two U.S. companies that supply war materials to Israel.

A two-thirds majority vote is needed to override ASUC President Will Smelko’s veto. In the original March 18 vote, the resolution passed 16-4; however, the Daily Californian student newspaper reported last week that some “senators are reconsidering their support for the bill.”

Meanwhile, the campaign has ramped up on both sides, as student senators continue to receive thousands of e-mails from proponents and opponents of the resolution.

Pro-Israel groups, such as StandWithUs/S.F. Voice for Israel, have been urging their constituents to help sustain the veto by sending letters to student senators and by attending next week’s meeting, which is open to the public.

“Resolutions like this are not designed to promote peace between a Jewish state and its Arab neighbors,” said Dr. Michael Harris, one of the founders of  StandWithUs/S.F. Voice for Israel who plans to attend the meeting. “They are designed to promote the elimination of a Jewish state. That is the real heart of the issue.”

If the veto is overturned, it appears that the debate over the resolution will be far from over, as it might be in violation of the ASUC constitution. Kevin Gibson, the ASUC attorney general, filed a charge last month claiming that the senate’s finance committee did not scrutinize the bill before it went to a vote. His charge was dropped after Smelko’s veto, but Gibson told the Daily Californian he will refile if the veto is overridden.

The student senate meeting begins 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, in the senate chambers, 400 Eshleman Hall, on the U.C. Berkeley campus.

amanda pazornik