President Jane Close Conoley on Tuesday emailed a letter to the Daily 49er and the Associated Students, Inc. Senate stating her opposition to an ASI resolution regarding Cal State Long Beach’s divestment in Israel.
The resolution, called “Suggestions for Socially Responsible Investing: Companies Complacent in and Profiting from Palestinian Oppression,” or SR #2017-37, recommends that the university and CSULB Auxiliaries divest in companies such as Raytheon, G4s, Veola, Caterpillar, General Electric, Northrop Grumman and Hewlett-Packard Company.
The current draft states that the seven companies profit from human rights violations against Palestinian people.
While Conoley states in the letter that she does not agree with the current leadership of Israel or Palestine, she also does not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, popularized as BDS, and she hopes a peaceful two-state solution will be made in the territory.
In her letter, Conoley outlines six reasons for her opposition to the resolution, the first being that the adoption of this resolution may lead to an increase in anti-Semitic vandalism on campus, as she says it has on other college campuses when similar resolutions were passed.
“Even during our local debate, anti-Jewish vandalism has increased at Long Beach State,” the letter reads. “This increase has frightened our Jewish students and concerned all community members devoted to social justice and the safety of minority populations.”
CSULB has seen an increase of anti-Semitic flyers on campus this year, including the third incident last Monday, when flyers with swastikas and racist slogans were glued to the doors of the Multicultural Center.
Conoley said that she was made aware of the resolution during one of her regular meetings with ASI leadership and shared her concern about the resolutions with them then.
According to the current draft of SR #2017-37, last spring the ASI Board of Directors passed a resolution to support the adoption of a socially responsible investing policy for the 49er Foundation and “as a result of this resolution, the University has decided to begin implementing socially responsible investing across the campus as well as its auxiliary organizations,” SR #2017-37 states.
The resolution is being discussed in conjunction with two additional resolutions on socially responsible investing: “Suggestions for Socially Responsible Investing: Companies Supporting and Profiting from Private Prisons” and “Suggestions for Socially Responsible Investing: Companies Complacent in and Profiting From LGBTQ+ Oppression.”
“Based on the earlier (about a year ago) ASI resolution, we had already examined the 49er Foundation portfolio,” Conoley said in an email to the Daily 49er. “We have no investments that could be construed as homophobic and certainly have no investments in private prisons.”
In her letter, Conoley states that Jewish people are frequently targeted in investment policies while other countries perform similarly outrageous violations of human rights and are not also targeted.
“My intent in mentioning other countries was to ask the question, ‘Why the Jews?’ There’s a case to be made that even in the USA we have witnessed gross violations of human rights, voting rights and educational rights to name a few,” Conoley said in the email. “Why not mention other countries in addition to Israel? I cited Russia as a way to illustrate a country that is literally waging a clandestine war on their LGBTIQ+ population. I did this to reflect ASI’s very appropriate concerns with homophobia.”
Conoley wrote that passing the resolution is unlikely to have an impact on the situation in the Middle East and will more likely send a negative message to Jewish students that does not promote inclusion.
The resolution will be discussed in the ASI Senate meeting today in its second reading.
Miranda Andrade-Ceja contributed to this story.