A Proud Moment: University of Cal Santa Barbara Turns back Divestment

I have always been proud to be a graduate of what I consider one of the finest schools in the United States: The University of California at Santa Barbara, but never have I been more proud than today when my school Senate turned back the anti-Semitic BDS / Divestment movement. According to the UCSB Divest facebook page which features the slogan “From the River to the Sea” and a Palestinian Flag, the ballot which needed a 2/3 majority fell well short with 10 votes FOR divestment, 11 votes AGAINST divestment and one abstention.

Now, just this facebook page alone should show the very racist notion of BDS and the worldwide “Divest Movement”. The Divestment movement claims that they simply want Israel out of the Occupied West Bank. When talking to their deluded friends in the West they never talk about end goals. Rather they simply lie and say that their whole goal is ending the “Occupation”. Of course, what we in the West consider “Occupation” and what they consider “Occupation” are two very different things. For them, “Occupied Territory” is all of the original Palestine Mandate from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. For us, Occupied territory is most of the territory gained in the 1967 War (a war that the Arab forces wanted in the first place, but that is for another article).

But, let’s get to the proof that this movement really is an anti-Semitic movement meant to dissolve Israel and deny the Jewish people their legitimate rights to self determination in their ancestral homeland. After all, it is not like this movement is going away anytime soon.

First of all, why is the concept of divestment as portrayed by the Divest UCSB movement racist? Well look at the imagery… It is a Palestinian Flag and Palestinian “artwork” with the slogan “From the River to the sea”. There is nothing there to acknowledge the Jewish presence in the Jewish peoples ancestral homeland. No blue and white (the colors of the Israeli flag), no Magen David, nothing… Just Palestinian imagery. In effect, they support the Palestinian peoples legitimate – and I think it is legitimate right, to a homeland, YET they refuse to recognize the legitimate rights of the Jewish people to a homeland. By claiming “from the river to the sea” they demand all of the territory for Palestinians.

But why else is the BDS movement an anti-Semitic movement? Well first of all it only boycotts Jews in Israel. The movement supports doing business with Arab Israelis and increasing ties to all Palestinians, citizens or not in Israel. So really, in effect it is a boycott of Jews. Period. No one else. What else can that be called if not anti-Semitic?

But another reason this is anti-Semitic is that while this movement focuses on the actions that the Israeli Government takes, it refuses to look the nature of the Palestinian Polity. The BDS movement claims to support a One State Democratic, United States of America in Palestine concept. One that they are trying to achieve through their actions now. The only problem (aside from the denial of the legitimate right to Jewish self-determination) here (sarcasm) is that the Palestinian polity has absolutely ZERO interest in living in that kind of State.

This solution has absolutely no support from the vast majority of Palestinians YET strangely enough the Divest UCSB and BSD movement in general doesn’t seem to care about that. The majority of Palestinians do support a One State solution however, they don’t particularly want a State where Jews are residents of that One State.

Why do I say that? Well in poll after poll the Palestinian polity still mostly supports a Two State solution. However, along with that support they also support “Palestinian Right of Return” to Israel. This “Right of Return” would then create a Palestinian majority inside Israel and thus would eliminate through demographics the Jewish nature of Israel, essentially creating a de facto One State Solution.

So while the BDS movement claims this, they only hold one side (the Israelis) accountable for their goals, they refuse to hold the other side accountable for anything. They seem to be ok with Hamas’ genocidal charter and holocaust denial. Sure they weakly claim not to be, but, then again none of them ever actually outright condemn it or even discuss it. And in discussing this, don’t they know that Hamas WON the last Palestinian election? Do they care that Ambassador Areikat of the Palestinian Authority stated that were there to be a Two State Solution that Jews would NOT be welcome to live in the Palestinian State until relations smoothed out (and how long that would be would be dependent on the Palestinian government)?

Where are the demands for accountability from the Palestinian polity there? They don’t exist. All they are doing is looking at the Israeli polity and Israel in general. They care nothing about what the Palestinian Polity wants or would enact. In my mind, this makes them anti-Semitic. They only care that the Palestinians get to exercise self determination BUT they would deny that same legitimate right to the Jewish people.

The Divestment movement also uses the language of delegitimization when it comes to the existence of Israel. By using the false comparisons of Israel to the former Republic of South Africa and claiming that Israel is an “apartheid” state, as discussed in this piece at The Times of Israel. As that Op-Ed clearly explains that this comparison is merely a rhetorical trick in an attempt to “delegitimize” the State. Aside from the many false comparisons that the Divestment movement makes there is one other glaring miss. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela was very strong in his affirmation that Whites and Blacks could and should live together, AND in this he had the support of the majority of the Black population. That is not the case in the present Palestinian polity. There may be the occasional calls for democracy  but there is no one leader that has mass public support that talks in these terms at all. AND… the divestment movement doesn’t demand that they have this while enacting their policies.

SO… Kol Ha’Kvod to the the Student Senate at UCSB for turning back this anti-Semitic proposal from the anti-Semitic Divestment movement.

I will say this.. One proposal that was of interest (at least to me) was a counter proposal that RATHER than people Divest from companies doing business with Israel, the University also invest in business that would build up the Palestinian economy. Now that is a proposal that I could get behind. A positive solution that not only supports the Jewish people’s legitimate right to self-determination but also helps the Palestinian people in their quest for self determination and economic solvency.

I don’t know what happened to this proposal but I could very much see supporting that.

Nonetheless, I am now a very proud alum of UCSB, a school that fought against hatred and supports the legitimate rights of the Jewish people to a State in their ancestral homeland. I can hold my head high as a former Gaucho and say that the place I got my degree from just said “NO” to hatred and bigotry.

About the Author
Jon Segall is creator of the blog The Progressive Zionist. Jon has lived in Israel and studied Israeli and American Policy in the region. Currently Jon, is re-learning Hebrew, and is an active practitioner of the Israel Self Defense Martial Art Krav Maga.