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UC Berkeley officials shoot down student government demand to side with Palestinians

Wants the university to use resources to support ‘Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation’

The University of California Berkeley has no plans to use its resources to lobby Congress on behalf of Palestinian political interests.

Assistant vice chancellor Dan Mogulof said the university “never, and will never, get involved with legislative lobbying of any sort.”

“We are, as a matter of policy and practice, an apolitical institution of higher education,” Mogulof told The College Fix via email on October 18.

This policy and practice includes an attempt by the Associated Students of the University of California to convince school officials to support U.S. House Resolution 2590.

The Congressional legislation would “ensure that United States taxpayer funds are not used by the Government of Israel to support the military detention of Palestinian children” and end taxpayer aid that supports “the unlawful seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the West Bank.”

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It would also cut off taxpayer dollars that supports “further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law.”

While the university said the student senate can pass the resolutions it wants, UC Berkeley is not bound by them.

ASUC Senate is a private group separate from the university, so “it has every right to pass resolutions approved by its elected student members,” Mogulof told The Fix. “At the same time, the ASUC does not represent the values, perspectives or positions of the University.”

The College Fix reached out to the student senate twice via its general contact email for a copy of the resolution on October 14 and October 18. The Fix asked how the student government balanced the interests of the Palestinian and Israeli students it represents but did not receive a response.

Israel commits ‘violence against Palestinians’ resolution said

The student senate resolution “calls upon the students, faculty, and staff of UC Berkeley to lobby their congressperson by calling, emailing, or writing to their office in support of H.R. 2590,” according to a copy obtained by The College Fix.

The resolution said Israel “carr[ies] out acts of violence against Palestinians while actively occupying their internationally recognized land.” It lists other accusations against Israel’s military and housing policies.

The legislation passed unanimously, according to the campus paper The Daily Cal. The student government suspended public notice requirements normally required for legislation, because “lives are at stake,” the campus paper reported.

“Waiting a week might not seem like a long time right now, but it’s a week taken away from people whose actual lives are at stake here,” External Affairs Vice President Riya Master said. “It is an emotional matter and that’s why we’re hoping to get it passed as soon as possible. We’ve put a lot of time into it as an office and we’re really hoping to see it go through.”

Israel student group said the resolution left our harassment of Jewish students

One group opposed to the resolution, Bears for Israel, criticized the approach of the student senate, while not fully condemning some of the claims of the Palestinian supporters.

The resolution, “omits any mention of the harassment experienced by Jews on campus, and internationally, which is too often enabled by the anti-Israel rhetoric,” a letter shared with The College Fix by group president Garrett Layton said.

The letter said further:

I am sure there are many here who want to recognize the injustice committed against Palestinians, or to condition US aid to Israel to prevent our aid from supporting occupation or uninstigated aggression. I encourage you to lobby for justice for Palestinians, for an end to occupation and disputed territory. I remind you however, that this does not require the explicit and unwavering support of your public academic institution. Lobbying for the resolution is a performance of your right to self-determination and an exercise of your free speech, and the ASUC’s absolute determination of what opinion to take on the matter is a violation of those rights.

“S.R. 19 is not antisemetic [sic] – though its passing may empower antisemites on a campus-wide stage,” Bears for Israel said. “The resolution is instead explicitly antizionist, a problem in itself. Zionism need not be a settler movement, it should not be cast monolithically as a colonial enterprise.”

“What the ASUC did, rather, was undemocratic and perpetuated an attitude on campus which shuts out pro-Israel students from providing any support for Palestinians or for progressive values,” the group said.

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IMAGE: Susan Melkisethian/Flickr

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Rachel Lalgie is a student at the University of Florida, studying accounting and economics. She is a member of UF's Phi Eta Sigma and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.