Columbia University To Vote On Divesting From Israel
Melissa Langsam Braunstein
Wed Nov 27 2019
In the heart of the nation’s most Jewish city, Jewish students who believe in Israel’s right to exist are being made mighty uncomfortable. And it’s not just at New York University, which is currently under federal investigation for antisemitism.
Now, farther uptown at Columbia, the Columbia College Student Council (CCSC) has voted 25-12 to allow a campus-wide referendum on whether Columbia University should divest from eight companies — including Caterpillar, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin — that do business with Israel.
This is the third time Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) has urged the undergraduate student council to hold such a campus-wide referendum in recent years, the last push being in late March. Each of the last two times, student council members voted against such a referendum via secret ballot.
But on Sunday night, the pro-divestment coalition, whose allies had secured more seats in the last election, won their necessary two-thirds super-majority by one vote. They celebrated their win by chanting a genocidal call-and-response, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”
Part of Sunday night’s debate revolved around whether this divestment effort is connected to the broader boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS). Proponents of the resolution reportedly insisted it was not, although “divestment” is BDS’s middle initial. And since Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) describe themselves as “currently campaigning to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction[s] mvt,” and BDS campaigners SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace argued for this referendum, it’s hard to see the effort as unrelated.
It remains unclear if Columbia is even invested in the eight companies at issue. A university spokesperson emailed, “As a general practice, we don’t discuss investment allocations or similar specifics beyond what we publish in our annual report.”...