I am a senator, one of 60 voted into the positions by the student body. It is in honor of this faith that I stood in opposition to the divestment resolution this past week. To be clear, I am all for a socially just investment policy. Our great school and Student Government have the resources, and reach to give opportunity and inspiration to so many just causes, and they effect positive change in choosing where our money is invested.
The resolution (presented at Tuesday’s Senate meeting) holds Israel totally responsible for the every day (trajedies) suffered by the Palestinians. It does not mention Hamas or the Palestinian Authority even once, the governments in control of the disputed territories that oppresses its people and uses the $400 billion it has received in aid to wage war and line the pockets of its administration and advocates.
Senate is supposed to be a place of deliberation. What took place was the entertainment of misinformation and an angry diatribe, rather than balanced dialogue. The presentation made many people in the room uncomfortable because the choice of rhetoric was inciting and offensive, and none of the more than 50 students who came in opposition to the resolution could answer such charges.
Israel is not an Apartheid state, as her Arab and Jewish citizens alike enjoy full freedoms and rights. This slur dishonors those who lived and fought against the real apartheid South African regime. Israel is not an Imperialist colonizer, as the disputed territory was won in the (Six Day War) war (of 1967) and much has been given up in the hopes of a lasting peace treaty. No side is innocent in this. But if we are going to make a statement against a side in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, it needs to be one that emphasizes the need for peace, shared bonds and opportunity, and dialogue.
The Florida Senate recently passed (Senate Bill) 86, an anti-discrimination bill that serves to strengthen the American-Israeli Relationship and weaken the tide of discrimination and double standards that are hurled at Israel.
My constituents include Bulls of every race, religion and personality. We are sworn by oath as members of Student Government that we must maintain viewpoint neutrality, not to let our obligations to one particular group or our personal affairs interfere with serving the entire communities interests. Regardless of your stance, we can all agree that peace and a stop to the hate and violence would be the preferred ending to all the conflict.
This resolution does not contribute to the peace process at all. It decreases the quality of life for the very people it claims to advocate for, and does not reflect the views of many students and the policies of our state and federal government. It works against globalization and shared opportunity, strong pillars of our University.
The administration has once more declared it will not entertain such a notion again, and for good reason. They will not go against state policy, and they will not approve a policy change that makes USF an environment where it is unsafe to foster ideas and discussion. So why would I?
Contributed by University of South Florida CAMERA Fellow, Jesse Davidson, and was originally published in The Oracle.