U.C. president, regents decry divest-from-Israel efforts

After receiving what he said were close to 10,000 e-mails regarding the recent divest-from-Israel resolutions on two of his campuses, U.C. President Mark Yudof issued a joint statement with two university leaders emphasizing that the U.C. Board of Regents would not recommend divestiture from companies with business ties to Israel.

“We must take great care that no one organization or country is held to a different standard than any other,” the May 10 statement said. “In the current resolutions voted on by the U.C. student organizations, the State of Israel and companies doing business with Israel have been the sole focus.

“The isolation of Israel among all countries of the world greatly disturbs us and is of grave concern to members of the Jewish community.”

The statement — issued jointly by Russell Gould and Sherry Lansing, the Board of Regents chair and vice chair, respectively, and Yudof — went on to reiterate the Board of Regents’ policy to divest from a foreign government “only when the United States government declares that a foreign regime is committing acts of genocide.” That policy was adopted in 2005.

“Divestment is a serious decision that should be rarely pursued,” the statement said. “We share the Regents’ belief that divestment needs to be undertaken with caution.”

The student governments at U.C. Berkeley and U.C. San Diego have been dealing with divestment bills recently. After weeks of back and forth, the U.C. Berkeley student senate eventually shot down a resolution urging divestiture from two U.S. companies selling war materials to Israel. The UCSD student council now is involved with a similar measure.

Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on May 11 wrote a letter denying that he had any ties to the group U.C. San Diego Students for Gavin Newsom, which endorsed the divest-from-Israel resolution on the La Jolla campus.

In a letter drafted to Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, Newsom expressed anger at the suggestion that he supports the efforts at UCSD to divest from Israel.

Calling himself a “staunch supporter” of Israel who “strongly opposes” the divestment bills, Newsom wrote: “Under no circumstances do I want to allow any association with groups that demonize [Israel] and help to create a hostile environment for Jewish students at our universities.”