The Associated Students, Inc. Senate passed in a (15,7,1) roll call vote a divestment resolution from companies that profit from Palestinian oppression.
One side of the gallery restrained their cheers and jitters, while the other side donned dispirited, reddened faces as the ASI Senate tallied their votes.
This resolution would encourage the university to divest from companies that receive monetary gain from Palestinian oppression. The ASI Senate also passed two similar resolutions the same day that encouraged the divestment from companies that profit from LGBTQ+ oppression and private prisons.
Now that all of the divestment resolutions have passed in the Senate, the university at large and its auxiliaries, such as the 49er Foundation and the 49er Shops, will decide whether or not they will support it.
Since the inception of the divestment resolution regarding Palestinian oppression, the Farber Senate chambers have been filled with Jewish and Palestinian people alike, as well as campus members interested in the outcome of the resolution, all voicing their thoughts on the controversy of the Israel and Palestine conflict taking place overseas.
The culmination of emotion before the vote was led by loud claps, cheers and snaps from the audience. Attendance at ASI’s last Senate meeting of the semester was at its highest due to the great controversy over the resolution. Students, faculty and others passionate about the topic sported t-shirts and held up signs advocating for their cause.
One audience member named Mustafa Bibi who spoke among the 44 people participating in the public comments period wore a Palestinian flag as a cape.
“I am a Palestinian, but before I am a Palestinian I am a Muslim which means if I see injustice, it is my duty to stand up against it,” Bibi said. “I support this resolution because it is the right thing to do as a human being. If you actually believe that Israel ever intends for peace, your entire cognitive development is a disaster, disaster! They are trying to justify genocide!”
The resolution was considered controversial for even its first readings, with President Jane Close Conoley, a divided group of senators and a group of audience members expressing opinions against the proposition.
Co-director of Jewish Studies Jeffrey Blutinger, who spoke before all three readings, consistently voiced against the passing of the resolution.
“This resolution is racist and anti-Semitic, and it should be rejected,” Blutinger said. “It singles out Jews from all the peoples on earth and says only you [the Jews] may not have national aspirations.”
Before the resolution passed, the Senate allowed 30 minutes of discussion among the board. College of the arts senator Sofia Musman said she was heartbroken and spoke about her feelings toward the resolution before listing its technicalities such as suggesting changing the mention of “Israeli state” to “the state of Israel” throughout the document.
“This resolution is about hate: hate for me as a Jewish woman, hate for my Jewish people and hate directed at my peers, family and friends,” Musman said. “I am here to represent students and if even one group of students feels marginalized by this resolution, then we have failed.”
Author of the resolution and senator-at-large Yasmin Elasmar defended her support of the divestment, believing it a necessary step to protecting human rights. She said this resolution is giving a voice to those who are afraid of speaking out supporting divestment in fears of being targeted.
“To everyone who says this is divisive, what about the wall that exists in Palestine – do you think that’s not divisive?” Elasmar said. “A lot of people have publicly stood up against the wall … that Trump wants to build. How can we stand up against that, but not stand up against a wall that already exists, that already divides us, that already hurts people, that keeps me from getting into the state of Israel.”
Musman also mentioned the issue of human rights and protecting the state of Israel, which is the only recognized Jewish state.
“We are already divided with the so-called Trump administration and I don’t want to feel unsafe on this campus because I’m Jewish and because I support the existence of the Jewish state,” Musman said. “Human rights is the issue. I believe we have to protect everyone and not single out just one state.”
Elasmar says she wants the university to continue pushing for divestment against companies that profit from oppressing other groups.
“I’m hoping [the university] says yes because this is the student voice,” Elasmar said. “It’s really not okay for us as a university to continue on making money off the oppression of these students. They need to respect that students should have control where their money goes and make those decisions [accordingly].”