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Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Keith Millea - 31-03-2010

Published on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 by Open Letter to Berkeley Students on their Historic Israeli Divestment Bill

by Naomi Klein

On March 18, continuing a long tradition of pioneering human rights campaigns, the Senate of the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley (ASUC) passed "A Bill In Support of UC DIVESTMENT FROM WAR CRIMES." The historic bill resolves to divest ASUC's assets from two American companies, General Electric and United Technologies, that are "materially and militarily supporting the Israeli government's occupation of the Palestinian territories"-and to advocate that the UC, with about $135 million invested in companies that profit from Israel's illegal actions in the Occupied Territories, follow suit.

Although the bill passed by a vote of 16-4 after a packed and intense debate, the President of the Senate vetoed the bill six days later. The Senate is expected to reconsider the bill soon; groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace are asking supporters of the bill to send letters to the Senators, who can overturn the veto with only 14 votes.

Here is the letter I just sent:

Dear members of the ASUC Senate,
I am writing to urge you to reaffirm Senate Bill 118A, despite the recent presidential veto.
It comes as no surprise that you are under intense pressure to reverse your historic and democratic decision to divest from two companies that profit from Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. When a school with a deserved reputation for academic excellence and moral leadership takes such a bold position, it threatens to inspire others to take their own stands.

Indeed, Berkeley--the campus and the wider community--has provided this kind of leadership on many key issues in the past: not only Apartheid in South Africa but also sweatshops in Indonesia, dictatorship in Burma, political killings in Nigeria, and the list goes on. Time and again, when the call for international solidarity has come from people denied a political voice, Berkeley has been among the first to answer. And in virtually every case, what began as a small action in a progressive community quickly spread across the country and around the world.

Your recent divestment bill opposing Israeli war crimes stands to have this same kind of global impact, helping to build a grassroots, non-violent movement to end Israel's violations of international law. And this is precisely what your opponents--by spreading deliberate lies about your actions--are desperately trying to prevent. They are even going so far as to claim that, in the future, there should be no divestment campaigns that target a specific country, a move that would rob activists of one of the most effective tools in the non-violent arsenal. Please don't give into this pressure; too much is on the line.

As the world has just witnessed with the Netanyahu government's refusal to stop its illegal settlement expansion, political pressure is simply not enough to wrench Israel off its current disastrous path. And when our governments fail to apply sanctions for defiant illegality, other forms of pressure must come into play, including targeting those corporations that are profiting directly from human rights abuses.

Whenever we take a political action, we open ourselves up to accusations of hypocrisy and double standards, since the truth is that we can never do enough in the face of pervasive global injustice. Yet to argue that taking a clear stand against Israeli war crimes is somehow to "discriminate unfairly" against Israelis and Jews (as the veto seems to claim) is to grossly pervert the language of human rights. Far from "singling out Israel," with Senate Bill 118A, you are acting within Berkeley's commendable and inspiring tradition.

I understand that there is some debate about whether or not your divestment bill was adopted "in haste." Not having been there, I cannot comment on your process, though I am deeply impressed by the careful research that went into the decision. I also know that in 2005 an extraordinarily broad range of Palestinian civil society groups called on activists around the world to adopt precisely these kinds of peaceful pressure tactics. In the years since that call, we have all watched as Israeli abuses have escalated dramatically: the attack on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, a massive expansion of illegal settlements and walls, an ongoing siege on Gaza that violates all prohibitions on collective punishment, and, worst of all, the 2008/9 attack on Gaza that left approximately 1,400 dead.

I would humbly suggest that when it comes to acting to end Israeli war crimes, the international response has not suffered from too much haste but from far too little. This is a moment of great urgency, and the world is watching.

Be brave.
Yours sincerely,

Naomi Klein

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Keith Millea - 31-03-2010

An open letter to Berkeley students from ME.

Don't Forget Your History!

A quick reminder;Mario Savio...

And because I just bought the DVD a few days ago:
Jimi Hendrix at the Berkeley Community Theater May 30,1970.....

"Machine Gun"
I was there,balcony second row.

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Magda Hassan - 01-04-2010

Great videos Keith! Thanks for posting them. Watching Jimi in the second row of the balcony must have been a magic moment. I get goosebumps just listening and watching him on YouTube.

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Keith Millea - 01-04-2010

Hey Naomi,they're calling us bigots!Fuck Them.....:thefinger:

Be brave.
Yours sincerely,
Published: 03/19/10, 10:43 AM / Last Update: 03/19/10, 11:08 AM
Berkeley Slammed for 'Bigoted, Illegal' Vote on Divestment

by Maayana Miskin

( Student politicians from the University of California at Berkeley voted Thursday to divest from Israel. The Student Senate voted 16-4 to call on the university to divest its funds from General Electric and from United Technologies, because both companies produce weapons purchased by the Israeli army. The bill calling for divestment was co-sponsored by students Emiliano Huet-Vaughn and Tom Pessah, the latter an anti-Zionist Israeli citizen.

The bill noted the “complexity” of the Israel-Arab conflict, but went on to accuse Israel of violating international law with a “prolonged siege” on Gaza and “attacks on Palestinian and Lebanese civilians,” accusations based on statements from radical left NGO's critical of Israel such as Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.

The vote was met with glee from anti-Israel activists. Radical anti-Israel activist and Tel Aviv University student Omar Barghouti expressed hope that the Berkeley vote would be “the watershed, the crossing of the threshold in the spread of BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – ed.] across the US that many of us have been waiting to see.”

Prominent American attorney and political commentator Alan Dershowitz slammed the vote as “immoral” and “bigoted.” Divesting from Israel “encourages terrorism and discourages peace,” he said.
Dershowitz noted that divestment from Israel is illegal if done by a state university.

"We will fight back against this selective bigotry that hurts the good name of the University of California,” he said. “The misuse of the university's name does not reflect the views of students... Instead it represents the hijacking of the university for improper ideological purposes.”

StandWithUs: Vote Based on Discredited Report
The U.S. based pro-Israel student group StandWithUs noted that the Berkeley resolution was based on the Goldstone report, which has been criticized as biased and inaccurate by the United States government, among others.

“StandWithUs is shocked that the 16 senators based their decision on the widely discredited UN Goldstone report,” the group stated. “Liberal democracies condemned the Report for bias, misinformation, and distortion of facts, law, and legal reasoning.”

While supporters of the divestment bill claimed it was a response to recent events in Gaza, in reality, anti-Israel activists have been pushing for divestment from Israel since 2002, StandWithUs noted. “The Student Senate unfortunately was hijacked and capitulated to this bigoted campaign,” the group said.

If the Student Senate really opposed war crimes, it would focus on events in Darfur, the Congo, Iran, or Nigeria, “where human rights are constantly violated and the murder of innocents is systematic,” StandWithUs said. If the Senate truly wished for Israeli-Arab peace, it would condemn rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, and would condemn the Palestinian Authority for openly praising terrorism and giving honor to terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians, the group added.

"Apparently, the Student Senate no longer believes in 'speaking truth to power.' Instead, it has capitulated to the bigotry, falsehoods, and racism of anti-Israel campaigns encouraged and supported by oil-rich nations in the Middle East,” StandWithUs concluded. :bird:

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Jan Klimkowski - 01-04-2010

I see that Harvard's Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Alan Dershowitz:
Quote:slammed the vote as “immoral” and “bigoted.” Divesting from Israel “encourages terrorism and discourages peace,”"

That's Dershowitz the long-time apologist for Israeli war crimes and open advocate of torture.

I also note that Dershowitz was one of Patty Heart's defence lawyers. And Patty Hearst was a pawn in the deep black son-of-Phoenix Program operations known as the Symbionese Liberation Army and the People's Temple.

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Magda Hassan - 08-04-2010

AIPAC- We’ll take over the UC Berkeley student government

Posted on April 7 2010 by Cecilie Surasky under Educational Institutions.
Why both with moral persuasion when you can just threaten to take over government… everywhere?
On March 18, UC Berkeley’s student senate voted 16 to 4 in favor of divesting from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. A week later, in a move oddly predicted by AIPAC’s Jonathan Kessler at AIPAC’s policy conference, the vote was vetoed by the student senate president. (Students hope the senate will overturn the veto next Wednesday.)
When asked about fighting the Berkeley pro-divest initiative, Kessler said, “we’re going to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote…This is how AIPAC operates in our nation’s capital. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation’s campuses.” Kessler is at 3:58 in video below. Student elections are happening now at UC Berkeley and you can bet everyone’s looking for the AIPAC-Manchurian candidate, if such a thing exists.

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Keith Millea - 14-04-2010

Published on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 by The Daily California (UC Berkeley) International Attention Focused on Berkeley Divestment Vote

by Allie Bidwell

International attention will descend on the ASUC Senate meeting tonight as senators consider upholding the passage of a controversial bill urging the student government and the University of California to divest from two companies that have provided war supplies to the Israeli military.

[Image: Desmond_tutu_20070607_1.jpg]Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu. In a recent letter to the UC Berkeley community, Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts opposing apartheid in South Africa-said he endorsed the bill and urged senators to uphold the original vote, which he compared to similar efforts at UC Berkeley to divest from South Africa in the 1980s. (Wikimedia)

The bill names two companies-United Technologies and General Electric-as supplying Israel with the technology necessary to attack civilian populations in Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The bill originally passed the senate March 17 by a 16-4 vote following about six hours of discussion. A two-thirds majority, or 14 votes, is needed in order to override the veto.

Senators have received more than 13,000 e-mails, roughly split between both sides of the controversy.

Prominent figures including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, activist Naomi Klein and leftist MIT professor Noam Chomsky have spoken in support of overriding ASUC President Will Smelko's March 24 veto of the bill. Local and national pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-an influential Washington, D.C. lobby organization-Berkeley Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League have each stated the bill is divisive and unfairly targets Israel.

Supporters of the bill say divesting from the two companies would make a powerful statement against Israeli actions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which supporters have compared to apartheid-era South Africa.
In a recent letter to the UC Berkeley community, Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts opposing apartheid in South Africa-said he endorsed the bill and urged senators to uphold the original vote, which he compared to similar efforts at UC Berkeley to divest from South Africa in the 1980s.

He said in an e-mail Tuesday that he had a message for ASUC senators.
"I salute you for wanting to take a moral stand," he said in the e-mail. "(Your predecessors) changed the moral climate in the U.S. and the consequence was the Anti-Apartheid legislation, which helped to dismantle apartheid non-violently. Today is your turn. Will you look back on this day with pride or with shame?"

Wayne Firestone, national president of Hillel-a Jewish campus organization-released a statement last month condemning the bill. The statement stated that the bill is "one-sided, divisive and undermines the pursuit of peace" and ignores human rights violations of other countries.
"The ASUC bill will not contribute a whit to the advancement of peace in the Middle East and will only serve to divide the Berkeley community," Firestone said in the statement.

Pro-Israel activist organization J Street U, joined 18 other organizations-including Berkeley Hillel, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, the Jewish National Fund and StandWithUs/SF Voice for Israel-in crafting an April 5 letter to UC Berkeley Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer stating that they felt the bill was dishonest and misleading.

Among concerns listed in the letter was that the bill "unfairly targets" Israel while marginalizing Jewish students on campus who support Israel.
"Though it states that the 'ASUC resolution should not be considered taking sides in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict,' the exclusive focus on Israel suggests otherwise," the letter states.

Critics of the bill have said senators cannot make a proper judgement of an issue as complicated as the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Student Action Senator Parth Bhatt, who voted against the bill, said he felt the ASUC should not take a stance on such an issue because it marginalizes one community on campus.

"I don't think the ASUC should put any student in that position," Bhatt said. "The conflict is very complex and something I don't think our senators know enough about to vote on."

But CalSERVE Senator Ariel Boone said she supported the bill because she felt compelled to defend human rights.

"I went to Israel and had a really interesting time with Berkeley Hillel in January, and I have Holocaust survivors among my family," Boone said in an e-mail. "I have never felt so uniquely qualified to speak on an issue."
AIPAC has recently stated the need for a strategy to combat anti-Israel sentiments on U.S. university campuses.

"How are we going to beat back the anti-Israel divestment resolution at Berkeley?" said Jonathan Kessler, leadership development director for AIPAC, at a recent conference of the lobbying group. "We're going to make sure that pro-Israel students take over the student government and reverse the vote. This is how AIPAC operates in our nation's capitol. This is how AIPAC must operate on our nation's campuses."

But according to spokesperson Josh Block, the group did not take a position in the recent ASUC election.
"We don't rate or endorse candidates," Block said in an e-mail. "Of course we would always, publicly and consistently encourage pro-Israel students to be active in civic and political life."

Read statements in opposition and in support of the divestment bill:
Naomi Klein
Noam Chomsky
Desmond Tutu
Letter to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of UC Berkeley George Breslauer

© 2010 The Daily Californian

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Keith Millea - 16-04-2010

UC Berkeley ‘divest from the occupation’ bill still undecided

By: fairleft Thursday April 15, 2010 10:25 am

ASUC Senate Still Undecided on Vetoed Divestment Bill
By Allie Bidwell and Nick Myers
Contributing Writers
Last Updated Thursday, April 15, 2010

Quote:Following a nearly nine-hour discussion that began at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday evening and lasted into Thursday morning, ASUC senators have yet to reach a decision on whether or not they would uphold or override President Will Smelko’s March 24 veto of a controversial bill urging the student government and the UC to divest from two companies that have supplied Israel with materials for alleged war crimes.
After an initial 12-7-1 vote to uphold Smelko’s veto, the senate tabled the bill and will reconsider it next week. Several senators said they would work to alter the bill.

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - David Guyatt - 16-04-2010

It seems fairly evident to me that the Bill is not going to be allowed to proceed. Disinvestment from those corporations supplying Israel was doomed from the beginning - but at least the picture has clarified a bit about how such "dangerous" ideas are tackled and thwarted.

Never allow popular support for fair play and democratic ideals to ever interfere with politico-business opportunities.

Open Letter to Berkeley Students - Keith Millea - 16-04-2010

Yes David,I think this spells doom for the divestment to pass.The stakes were very large because if UC Berkeley were to pass this,then it would spread across most collage campuses.I think there is much arm twisting and fists full of dollars going on here.