On May 28th, 2015 less than 2 weeks before the end of the year Finals an amended Divestment resolution was heard before the ASUCD Senate and passed, where it still stands. Only 4 months after the original Divestment resolution was passed by the Senate and 3 months after the original Divestment was struck down as unconstitional by the ASUCD Court.
Our President, Julia Reifkind, addressed the Senate for the second time
Hi everyone, my name is Julia Reifkind and I’m the President of Aggies for Israel and a member of UC Davis’ Jewish community… but I’m here tonight to talk to you as a fellow student, a club president and a member of the greater Davis community. I know everyone in this room knows what this resolution is about and how contentious this issue can get so I’m not here to waste your time to get angry, I’m just here to say my piece then respectfully get out of your way.
Many of you sit at the table today as brand new elected officials and I want to welcome you to ASUCD, I’m sure you all ran with specific platforms in mind and the belief that you are here to speak on behalf of the student body to promote positive change. I truly believe that each of you has the potential to spark some great change here for all of us. I just wanted to start off by thanking you for sharing that with our campus. We need leaders like you to inspire our students and improve our campus. This resolution brought forward today, however, actually hinders those efforts. You all have to deal with budget hearings, unit consolidations, and so much more. This is why you are senators, to worry about big issues that impact the entire campus. Issues that only effect two communities, no matter how passionate the debate gets, just simply don’t require your attention when the 12 million dollar budget is at stake, and especially not weeks before finals. We elected you, I personally voted for many of the faces sitting behind your table today, not to rule on the conflict in the Middle East but to help us here at UC Davis deal with issues affecting the student body on a day to day basis. In fact, many of you ran for senate knowing you wouldn’t have to sit and here these same Divestment arguments drag on. We already heard both sides speak to this issue in January, its time to move on now. I’m not here to beg you to vote no on this resolution, I’m just here to remind you that quite simply you all have ‘bigger fish to fry’ then this piece of paper that sparks nothing but negativity and controversy. I urge you to keep that in mind when it comes time to vote on this resolution tonight.
I know that usually at divestment hearings, members of the Jewish community come forward to share their stories and their disappointment with the resolution. I’m here to let you know that we aren’t the only community striving for peace. And I brought proof. In my hands here, and in a minute I’ll be handing you each a copy, I have what I’d like to call a leadership peace statement, signed by other club and organization leaders who aren’t even affiliated with Divestment or the Arab-Israeli conflict but who all agree that you were elected to worry about issues that promote positive change. These signatures do not signify that these communities are “picking a side” but in fact the opposite, that they are siding with peace and the practice of productive discourse. They are supporing Aggies for Israel’s initiatives toward producing dialogue. And it is in my opinion that a resolution such as Divestment does quite the opposite. Instead of bringing negative resolutions to waste your time, we plan events such as Israel Week with a free barbecue, dancing, music and fun. In fact every Tuesday we have a free home cooked lunch at our Hillel House that is open to the public, and I’m here to invite and encourage everyone in this room to come join us. Actually right now as I’m here speaking about this divisive and cruel resolution, I should be at Hillel helping at an event with live music and fondue. I am the President of Aggies for Israel simply to put on fun events, to strengthen the community, and to include the whole campus; not to fight toxic resolutions not once but twice in one year. And you may notice a distinct absence of many members of the pro-Israel community…. and that’s because I told everyone to focus on studying, focus on your education which is the REASON we attend an institution of higher learning. We all sat through this three times already, why would anyone want to sit in this hate-filled room a fourth time?
Bottom line, there are more important issues at stake than this one and more important ways for us to stand together as a united Davis community to promote peace. I may not agree with every person’s views in this room, but I fully support everyone’s right to debate these issues as long as it is in a peaceful way. Instead of arguing, lets form a true dialogue and work together to best include members of all communities to pass legislation that ensures the safety and happiness of all students. But I can’t do it alone. And I shouldn’t have to. And as our elected officials, I’m here to ask you to help me do that. We are all a community and a resolution such as Divestment, to put it simply, tears our community apart. We can’t form dialogue if it’s only community willing to conduct themselves peacefully, so instead of bringing the same resolution forward year after year, why don’t you try something productive and rise up as ACTUAL peace partners to help students outside of your own community??
Let’s remember how much good we can accomplish and focus on how we can be role models for the rest of campus by promoting peace and unity. Thank you and good luck with budget hearings!