January 29th, 2015 The 3rd time and 3rd year Divestment was heard by the ASUCD Senate. Previous President Danny Eliahu and President Julia Reifkind gave a passionate speech and lead a walkout against a stacked hearing.
Good evening. My name is Julia Reifkind and I am the President of Aggies for Israel. Here we are, at the marker of year three. Three years is a long time for an event to continue on this campus. In many ways, divestment has become a legacy. Support or opposition is passed on to new students, and it continues, on and on. A legacy can be a beautiful thing, but the reality of divestment is that the only legacy it will leave behind is hate.
There are many reasons why this is the case. For one, past divestment resolutions have contained glaring factual inaccuracies indicating their origins in the Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions movement. BDS is an indisputably anti-Semitic, hate-promoting movement that has hijacked student voices to achieve its hypocritical agenda. This is apparent in this resolution:
The fact that the authors of this resolution have neglected to simply fact check their text informs me, and everyone in this room, that their interest has never been dialogue. One month ago I reached out to the President of Students for Justice in Palestine requesting a chance to reconcile our differences and foster peace. I received no response. This silence speaks louder than words. It says that the supporters of this resolution have given up on a peaceful relationship.
This resolution comes from a place of hate.
So let’s talk about this resolution:
Line 13 mentions the Palestinian people’s right self-determination in relation to the security barrier. But it is extremely misleading. Palestinians have been offered self-determination multiple times since Israel built its barrier, but their leadership has refused every offer. To condemn the barrier without acknowledging the context is to tell us that Palestinian lives are more important than Israeli lives.
And in an example of deliberately misleading statements,
The clause beginning on line 64 suggests that this resolution will advance social justice and peace. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ultimate goal of BDS is to eliminate Israel and violate the Jewish people’s right to self-determination. Tearing down the Israelis is not the same thing as advocating for the Palestinians. Opposing this resolution does not mean opposing Palestinian rights. It means acknowledging that Palestinians can have human rights and dignity without degrading Israeli human rights. As students, we should be working together towards a future of peace, justice, human rights, and mutual respect for both peoples.
This brings us here, to ASUCD and to this table. Ever since divestment came to this campus, it has spread like a poison. It drove away those students who wanted to serve the student body, and invited those who only care about this hateful issue. Since that time, it is clear that the quality of service from these elected officials is unacceptable. Our students are now represented by senators who sought their positions solely for today’s vote. And while we appreciate the senators who deserve their seats, if you came to this table just for this pathetic issue, do this campus a favor, cast your vote and then resign.
And on your way out the door, take the office of Student Affairs with you. Because its time for the administration of this university to answer for their hand in marginalizing our community.
Last year prior to the divestment hearing, students continuously informed members of Student Affairs that they felt threatened by this resolution. And yet when the time came, Student Affairs had the nerve to fund a larger room for the hearing, and in doing so funded a larger spectacle and a larger platform for hate.
And this is only one such instance.
Last year a student came forward to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Adela De La Torre. This student was blatantly and deliberately discriminated against by the chair of the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission for their view on divestment, and for their identity as a Jew. The Vice Chancellor met with the student and promised that her office would release a statement about divestment, calling for dialogue and understanding on this campus. To this day, no been issued and that student was forced to resign their position in the face of anti-Semitism. Adela De La Torre lied to a student she promised to help and left them abandoned in a time when administrative help was most needed.
Finally to our community. We stand here tonight as Aggie’s fighting for our home. We have been forgotten and disrespected year after year, but we will never be silenced. We are a beacon of peace and inclusion on a campus plagued by anti-Semitism. The intolerance that spawned this resolution is the same kind of intolerance that has spawned anti-Semitic movements throughout history. History doesn’t change; in fact it repeats itself. And for that reason our mission will never waiver. We, the Pro-Israel students of UC Davis, will continue to fight for our identities.
And so I will conclude by saying this.
To those of you who have brought this toxic resolution forward today, with the knowledge that it will pass, I say this to your so-called “victory”. You have made a sham of OUR student association under the eyes of an administration more interested in their own politics than with the wellbeing of students. You have divided a campus, and you have damaged lives. And I tell you now, this is no victory.
The real victory belongs to us, the students who have spent three years fighting this disease from our campus. We will continue to celebrate our beliefs on this campus and keep the integrity of our message strong. To those who came here, to this place, tonight, to show that they stand against this resolution and what it has done to this campus. This is our victory. And we who are victorious need not legitimize the words spoken in this empty hearing.
So if you are here tonight in opposition to this resolution, I invite you now, to STAND UP (pause) and join me in walking out of this room.