In close vote, Stanford senate rejects measure

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For the second time in three years, Stanford University’s undergraduate senate has rejected an Israel divestment resolution introduced by a pro-Palestinian group.

The latest measure came up for a vote at a Feb. 10 meeting of the Associated Students of Stanford University. Although the vote was 9-5 with one abstention in favor of the resolution, it fell one vote shy of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass.

Sign at Feb. 10 meeting photo/twitter

Sponsored by the student group Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine, the resolution demanded that Stanford’s Board of Trustees divest from corporations such as Caterpillar, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin for “maintaining the illegal infrastructure of the Israeli occupation” and “facilitating Israel and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians.”

In the weeks leading up to the vote, supporters of Israel in and around the Stanford campus formed a group called Coalition for Peace, which launched an online petition condemning divestment. More than 1,600 students, alumni and Stanford faculty members signed the petition, which was then presented to the ASSU senate.

After the defeat of the measure, Stanford student and Coalition for Peace co-chair Liana Kadisha said in a written statement, “The failed resolution is divisive for our Stanford student community. Representing only one side of an international conflict goes against our values as a university and will not bring us any closer to resolving the conflict. Also, Stanford isn’t directly invested in any of the companies being targeted, so this resolution is a strictly symbolic action to discredit Israel.”

A report issued a day before the vote by the Stanford Review, an independent paper, concluded that “Securities and Exchange Commission filings reveal that Stanford is invested in none of the companies SOOP targets for divestment.” Later, the report added an addendum: “SOOP has updated its resolution, one day before the ASSU will vote on it. They added a line recognizing Israeli security rights, and named one new company, Eaton Corp., in which Stanford was invested in March, 2014. This company, however, was recently named the No. 25 best corporate citizen in America by Corporate Social Responsibility Magazine.”

In March 2013, the ASSU voted down a similar divestment resolution proposed by Students for Palestinian Equal Rights. After three weeks of contentious debate, the bill was voted down 7-1 with five abstentions.

Users on social media noted that the vote was much closer this time around, gaining 64 percent approval when it needed at least 66.7 percent to pass. “Incredible campaigning by the heroic @StanfordSJP! [formerly known as Students for Justice in Palestine] Each year the movement gets stronger. We are winning,” Nora Barrows-Friedman, a writer-editor with the Electric Intifada, posted on Twitter. — j. staff