Landgraf announces no veto on divestment bill SB 160 (and comment on news report) 25Apr13 April 25, 2013

by Sarah Grossman      -     The Daily Californian     -    23 April 2013

divestment.henry_ascencio1-698x450ASUC President Connor Landgraf has announced that he will not veto SB 160, the controversial bill passed last week that divests ASUC funds from companies affiliated with the Israeli military and encourages the UC system to do the same.

In a statement released Tuesday night, Landgraf emphasized that his decision should not be taken as an endorsement of the bill.

“I firmly reject its one­sided narrative, and the bill’s complete and utter failure to create any constructive discussion or dialogue on a complex and multifaceted issue,” he said in the statement. “This bill has served to do nothing more than divide our campus, foster anger, and encourage divisiveness.”

SB 160, authored by Student Action Senator George Kadifa, seeks the divestment of more than $14 million in ASUC and UC assets from companies including Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard. The bill claims that these companies are complicit in Israel’s alleged abuse of human rights in Gaza, including the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes.

However, Landgraf said he decided not to veto the bill because he believed such an act would only lengthen the conflict and make the campus’s healing process more difficult. It is for this reason only, Landgraf said, that he decided not to veto SB 160.

Last week’s ASUC meeting lasted over 10 hours and was attended by more than 500 students, faculty and other concerned members of the community. Three senators cried as they explained their votes, which took place just before 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau released a statement last Thursday affirming his opposition to SB 160, saying that he believed that “targeting a single nation or state in this highly complex world is not appropriate and does little to advance the cause of peace and coexistence.”

In an interview with The Daily Californian, Landgraf characterized the week leading up to his announcement as one of the worst of his life.

“I want people to know that this was not me siding with either side, and this is not me siding with the bill,” he said. “I couldn’t disagree more with this bill and the way it was done. I think this bill has utterly failed in that it hasn’t resulted in any constructive dialogue and that it’s very clear that this is not a model for how to produce change.”

Read his full statement below:


Comment from Elizabeth Brown which puts Landgraf’s statement somewhat in perspective

I appreciate Mr. Landgraf’s decision, but not his self-congratulatory explanation. The real reason, it seems, is that he was outed by the San Francisco Guardian yesterday for having gone on a free trip to Israel for student leaders across the country. During the trip, he posed for a picture in front of Israeli military machinery. The trip was funded by an Israeli lobby group and presumably did not involve exposure to the daily injustices committed against Palestinians. The success in uncovering this information, which Landgraf initially tried to hide, demonstrates the potential of grassroots activism to overcome the financial influence of these occupation-justifying lobby groups. While divestment, at this stage, is a symbolic act, international grassroots campaigns may be the best and only way to bring peace for Palestinians and Israelis.

A few question to commenters who are opposed to this targeted divestment initiative: Would you support divestment from settlements only (what Peter Beinart calls “Zionist boycott”)? Would you support American aid to Israel that is conditioned on settlement dismantlement? Israel has become a cruel and embedded occupier, its injustices against Palestinians are getting bolder and bolder by the day, and Israel is consistently unresponsive to diplomatic efforts aimed at a just peace solution along the 1967 borders. What besides massive grassroots efforts (such as targeted divestment) could save Israel from itself? At what point, in your mind, is divestment ever justified? And how will you know when Israel has reached this point?

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