(JTA) – A student association affiliated with California State University, Long Beach passed a resolution calling for divestment from companies “profiting from Palestinian oppression.” The senate of Associated Students, Inc., a nonprofit membership association and auxiliary organization of the university, passed the call May 10. The resolution is addressed to the university but is not binding, according to the Daily 49er student newspaper. The university’s president, Jane Close Conoley, on April 26 sent the senate an open letter opposing plans to issue calls for a boycott against Israel.
The resolution calls on the university “to divest from companies that receive monetary gain from Palestinian oppression.” Virtually all of Israel’s commercial and industrial sectors have dealings in or with settlements in the West Bank or Golan Heights. Previous calls for divestment from firms allegedly profiting from Israel’s control of these lands have widely been interpreted as blanket calls for boycotting Israeli businesses. “It singles out Jews from all the peoples on earth and says only you [the Jews] may not have national aspirations,” said Jeffrey Blutinger, co-director of Jewish Studies at the university.
In her letter, Close Conoley warned that passing the resolution risked emboldening antisemites on campus and constitutes an endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which she said “is opposed to the existence of the State of Israel.” The Jewish people, she wrote, “have been the targets of suspicion, violence, discrimination, and ostracism for centuries. They have suffered institutional racism in the United States and dozens of countries across the world. Israel’s actions against the Palestinians may certainly be critiqued, but what about Syria’s actions against its own people, Brazil’s brazen violations of human rights, North Korea’s imprisonment of an entire nation, or Russia’s current war on their LGBTQ+ community? Why are only Jews picked out for condemnation? It’s worth reflecting, I think, on implicit bias when singling out only one group of people for sanctions.”