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UC Berkeley student leaders urge UC to divest from some firms

April 18, 2013|By a Times staff writer

Elected student leaders at UC Berkeley passed a resolution early Thursday that urged the UC system to divest from companies said to profit from anti-Palestinian Israeli policies.

The controversial resolution was passed in the student government’s Senate after being debated Wednesday night and into the morning. The vote was 11 in favor and 9 opposed, according to the Daily Californian student newspaper.

The resolution calls for the UC system to end investments in such companies as Caterpillar and General Electric that provide technology, weapons or other products that the Israeli military uses in the Palestinian territories.

Student governments at several other UC campuses have adopted similar resolutions for divestment that supporters describe as efforts to stand up for human rights for Palestinians. 

The advisory measures have no power over the UC regents, who control the university’s massive portfolio and have repeatedly said they will not take any divestment action involving Israel.

After previous efforts, university officials cautioned that divestment is a complex matter that should be pursued rarely and only when the U.S. government deems that a foreign regime is committing genocide. 

Earlier this month, UC Riverside’s student government revoked a previous divestment resolution. Student leaders moved to drop the resolution after sensing that it marginalized Jewish students on campus.

Last week, UC Santa Barbara’s student government voted down a similar resolution.

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