Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Divestment: Here we go again!

Divestment resolution likely to pass

By Donn M. Fresard and Justin Miller, Daily Staff Reporters
March 15, 2005

A resolution supporting divestment from Israel appears to havea reasonable chance of passing in tonight’s Michigan Student Assembly meeting, several top MSA officials said yesterday.

The resolution, which attacks the Israeli military’s practices toward the Palestinians as “reprehensible” and “unjustifiable” in 14 paragraphs leading up to its conclusion, would urge the University Board of Regents to create an “advisory committee to investigate the moral and ethical implications” of the University’s $11,000,000 worth of investments in companies that do business with Israel.

As of 3 a.m. this morning, a vote count by The Michigan Daily found that MSA representatives who knew how they would vote were almost evenly divided between supporting and opposing the resolution. MSA officials said a similar late-night tally, conducted by assembly officials, yielded roughly the same results.

The student government at the University’s Dearborn campus passed a similar resolution last month, and the student government at the Flint campus is also expected to take up the issue tomorrow.

In an unusual move last night, MSA President Jason Mironov came out against the resolution before the vote. While its supporters claim the resolution merely suggests that a committee explore the issue, Mironov condemned it as disingenuous, saying it presents only the anti-Israel side of the argument.

“Ninety-five percent of the document condemns the state of Israel, and 5 percent calls for the creation of a committee,” Mironov said. “The resolution puts the verdict before the trial.”

Jesse Levine, student general counsel of MSA and the Students 4 Michigan presidential candidate for next week’s MSA elections, echoed Mironov’s statements, saying the timing of the resolution ignores the recent progress made in the peace process and that such a resolution “doesn’t necessarily make sense right now.”

Today’s vote is expected to draw the largest turnout of MSA representatives and constituents of any MSA meeting this year. The meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., has been relocated from the MSA chambers to the Michigan Union’s Kuenzel Room to accommodate the anticipated crowd.

A resolution supporting divestment from Israel was last brought before MSA in April 2003, but that resolution was pulled by its sponsors before it could be voted on because of an apparent lack of support in the general assembly.

Students Allied for Freedom and Equality President Carmel Salhi said the resolution to be presented today will have a better chance of success.

“If the proper information is given and the resolution is presented in its true light, I think it has a very good chance at succeeding,” Salhi said.

Rachel Snyder, co-chair of American Movement for Israel, said the resolution would damage the relationship between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups on campus.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t pass, and I know there’s a big constituency of students that hope it won’t pass,” Snyder said. “Right now the peace process is going really well, and I know there’s a great amount of support for Israel and Palestine to reach a peaceful resolution on campus. This is not the time to bring up a resolution that brings down one side of the conflict.”

The resolution is supported by SAFE, Muslim Students’ Association, Pakistani Students’ Association, Native American Student Association and several other student groups and faculty members.

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