SGA debates UMass’ divestment from Israel

Nicole Sobel, Collegian Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wednesday, March 4th the SGA gathered in the Campus Center at to vote on whether or not the University of Massachusetts should divest from companies who support Israel such as Caterpillar, General Electric, and Motorola.

The meeting concluded with the motion being tabled until March 25th, after, lengthy and controversial debate.

The main debate was between The Student Alliance for Israel and the Campus Anti-War Network debate over whether SGA should pass the bill.

Michael Feder spoke firest on the topic, representing a pro-Israel outlook. He said the bill contained a number of half-truths.

“Real decisions come from knowing the information on both sides,” said Feder.

Feder”s speech also had a strong emphasis on “war as a symptom.” He claimed that, “An anti-war stance is a way to avoid thoughtful inquiry.”

The Student Alliance for Israel”s believed the bill should be treated as a starting point for dialogue, not for rash decision. The main qualm expressed by Pro-Israel students was their worry only one side of the issue was being seen, and more debate and dialogue was necessary on the matter.

Hannah Grossman from the Student Alliance for Israel was concerned that “This bill is going to polarize the campus and make it impossible for each side to understand each other.”

Other pro-Israel speakers at the meeting referred to the bill as an “unfair vilification of Israel,” and a “means for polarizing the campus.”

The campus Anti-War network, on the other hand, felt the bill should be passed.

The Anti-War network said that, “Divestment helps towards peace.” They claimed repeatedly that the bill was urgent, since many Palestinians were dying and starving by the minute.

“Palestinian Civil Society asked the U.S. to make this move.” network representatives said.

The Anti-War network claimed that Israel should not be portrayed as representing “democracy,” considering their recent assault on the Gaza Strip. The Anti-War network felt that this bill would, “protect the Palestinians from being besieged.”

The Anti-War network referred to the Gaza Strip as, “an open air prison right now,” and said this bill needed to be passed in order to, “Divest from occupation of war, and invest in education.”

They were insistent upon this bill being passed quickly because of the urgent humanitarian crisis that was at stake in Israel concerning the Palestinian people.

Nicole Sobel can be reached at nsobel [at]

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