Cal president resists pressure to veto West Bank divestment bill

This photo of Landgraf on a free trip to Israel last year may have helped tip his decision against vetoing the bill.

Late Tuesday night, UC Berkeley Student President Connor Landgraf decided not to a veto SB 160, which called on the university to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The bill labels the university “a complicit third party in illegal occupation and ensuing human rights abuses” by Israel.

Before announcing his decision, Landgraf acknowledged to the Guardian that he had promised divestment proponents during his campaign that he would not exercise his veto. But following the close 11-9 vote last Thursday, Landgraf came under intense pressure from both pro- and anti-divestment groups and he waited until just before the deadline for a veto to announce his decision.

Although the UC Berkeley Student Senate has no control the university’s budget, the divestment bill drew national attention. Palestinian solidarity activists called upon Landgraf to allow the bill to stand, while the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Israel Action Network launched campaigns to pressure Landgraf into vetoing the measure.

Early Tuesday morning, the Guardian revealed that Landgraf had taken advantage of a fully-funded trip to Israel, paid for by the the American Jewish Committee, a sponsor organization for the Israel Action Network. Landgraf failed to disclose this relationship during the debate over SB160, even after the Israel Action Network launched a pro-veto campaign.

Although Landgraf stopped short of issuing a veto, he did release a statement distancing himself from the bill.“I firmly reject its one-sided narrative, and the bill’s complete and utter failure to create any constructive discussion or dialogue on a complex and multifaceted issue,” Landgraf wrote.

Following Landgraf’s announcement, SB 160 author Senator George Kadifa praised Landgraf's decision to refrain from a veto. “The 60 communities that supported divestment are grateful for President Landgraf’s courage in agreeing not to veto,” Kadifa told the Guardian.

Pro-Israel groups on campus expressed disappointment in his decision. “Obviously we’re really dismayed by the decision,” Abby Porth, associate executive director of the JCRC, told J Weekly.

Ultimately, the divestment bill is unlikely to alter the UC’s investment portfolio. Before Landgraf announced his decision, UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau voiced his opposition to SB 160, promising the bill would have no effect of the UC's investment decisions.

But the success of encouraging divestment at Berkeley may inspire other UC campuses to follow suit. On Tuesday, students at UC Davis launched a campaign calling on their own student government to consider divestment from many of the same companies included in Berkeley’s SB 160.


As someone who was involved in BDS activism (with Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights at Portland State University), I'm glad to see that Landgraf chose not to veto the bill. Israel's massive human rights abuses in the West Bank, and the racial segregation it enforces against its own citizens is not acceptable. BDS sends a message that Americans will not tolerate laws which discriminate based on race, we will not tolerate illegal settlements and extrajudical deprivation of Palestinian land.

Posted by HeartTenderloin on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 6:50 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

Polling shows that most Jews and by extension most Americans do not support Israel's intransigence in negotiating with the Palestinians and expansion of illegal settlements.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

at large felt about anything? Foreign policy is not decided on the basis of what's the most popular. This isn't a prom.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

So we don't live in a democracy? Foreign policy is not civil rights.

In fact, foreign policy in Israel and the SW Asian oil patch violates not just the civil rights of the people on the receiving end of it but secondarily those of us who are now targets for retaliatory acts of violence.

The interests of Israel and the US are not normally coincident.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

but I'm not an anti-Zionist like you. On this issue you're not part of the discussion. There is no place at the table for those who want to sit down with Israelis and tell them to commit national suicide. It's not a legitimate point.

And stop with casting yourself as the victim Marcos. This victimization shibboleth you're peddling is disgusting. The closest you've come to violence recently is someone forcing you to swallow their load when you prefer to spit.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

The point is that most American Jews do not support Israel uncritically, not by a long shot. Fewer Americans support Israel uncritically than American Jews.

Yet within government ranks are closed, Israel is the tail that wags the dog, the only options at the ballot box are 1) support Israel, 2) support Israel more.

There are credible arguments made that Israel's interests are not coincident with American interests.

There are credible arguments that we survived quite well in diaspora, even surviving pogroms and the holocaust without a nation-state of our own and that concentration in a nation state that acts as a war criminal is Bad For The Jews.

These war crimes have to stop and they have to stop now and by any means necessary. i support BDS.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 9:03 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

Then we have a problem because this country unconditionally supports Israel and that is not in the best interests of this country or Israel for that matter and because that policy further endangers Americans.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 25, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

Not all Jews support Zionism for that matter. Henry Makow Ph.D., the son of Holocaust survivors, is the president of High Game Enterprises in Winnipeg Canada. BG readers might be interested to hear his views, along with the thoughts of other Jews who don't subscribe to "Israel, right or wrong" (


To whom it may concern:

I am the inventor of the party game Scruples and the author of four books. I have been a contributor to for almost ten years. I am Jewish, the son of holocaust survivors. My grandparents perished. My wife and family are Jewish.

Historically, the vast majority of Jews were opposed to Zionism and preferred to assimilate. However, since WW2, Zionists have usurped the leadership of the Jewish people.

A large minority, including myself, remain opposed to Zionism. We believe it is a fraudulent movement that puts Jews in jeopardy by creating Antisemitism. We believe our undivided loyalty should be to our country of residence.

Over the years, Jeff has been fearless in posting criticism by Jews like myself. He has made the distinction between Zionists and Jews and eschewed comments that could be construed as racist.

Jews like myself are grateful to Jeff Rense for giving us a platform.
Henry Makow

Posted by Shalom on Apr. 29, 2013 @ 10:35 am

Such as in Israel and South Africa, then telling someone to commit "national suicide" is legitimate insofar as the foundation of the nation cannot be based on racism. The conception of Zionism for the religious right in Israel is a nation which excludes all Arabs - and many parties, such as Jewish Home, actually advocate the forced emigration of all Arab-Israeli. This is not an acceptable form of national identity, and nobody should be afraid to say so.

Posted by HeartTenderloin on Apr. 26, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

Freakishly, there are many more gentiles who support Israeli zionism than there are Jews globally.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 26, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

From the sound of it, too many of these students know too little about the history of the Middle East, especially if a simple trip to Israel is all it takes to convince them that giving half of Palestine to European and American Jews was a sensible, and just, idea.

I'd like to know that these students truly understand how England, France and Czarist Russia had secretly divided the Middle East between them, during WWI, while telling various Middle Eastern leaders otherwise. I'd like to know that they understand the significance of the Balfour Declaration (Whitehall promising the Jewish Federation Of London that Britain would create a Jewish National Home in Palestine); the connection between that, and the Palestinian Mandate (Britain taking control of Palestine, after WWI); and that these students understand that many Palestinian Muslims are descended from Biblical Jews who converted to Islam after helping Islamic forces conquer then Christian Constantinople.

If these students don't understand the basic history of the Middle East relative to how borders were drawn by Britan and France after WWI, and how the West has been corrupting governments there for their own benefit for over a century, then they truly don't understand the injustice perpetrated on the Palestinians, and the Arab people, and how truly monstrous the idea of a state of European and American Jews on Arab land truly is.

Critical thinking and historical awareness is essential, as many of these students will be drafted to fight in the next major Middle Eastern war, a war that will have profound consequences for the West, and in the end, for Jews world wide. Simply supporting Palestine as the underdog isn't enough.

Posted by Gryphonisle on Apr. 26, 2013 @ 10:29 am

The reason for the violence in the SW Asian oil patch is because the boundaries of the modern nation-states that arose from the pieces of the post-Ottoman Empire were drawn in London by the British Empire within decades of its own collapse in order to divide and conquer.

We are living with the consequences of this primary usurpation of self determination by imperial powers. All empires collapse and when they do, they leave wreckage worldwide, at home and in the colonies.

Posted by marcos on Apr. 26, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Even more glad that Berkeley isn't the first. Other UC campuses have been passing resolutions like this one by one. Once upon a time, Berkeley student activists were on the cutting edge. Now, if anything, they're behind the curve. But that's Ok. Doesn't matter who actually leads, as long as someone does. I think marcos overstates the case a bit regarding US public opinion right now, but that's Ok too. What's mainstream on college campuses today, will be mainstream in US public opinion tomorrow. Israeli apartheid will not stand.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 29, 2013 @ 7:53 am

Israel may do many bad things but how are they racist? How can it be Apartide? Palestinians don't refer to themselves as a seperate race nor do Jews (Hitler did but that's a different story unless you want to go along with his view). The UN and all recognized international definitions of Apartide explicitly relate to seperation by race not ethnic or other factors. Since there appears to be about a 50% (give or take about 25% depending on the study) in terms of genetically based geographic origins between Europian Jews and Arab Palestinians how is this racial? To try to claim it is racial is nothing more than the inflammatory rantings of latter day Know Nothing's.

The reality is that a majority of Israeli Jewish families do not have a European background. Heck, about half of all Israeli Jews have as their immeadiate background indigenous roots in Muslim Arab countries. You might even say that this means Isreal is already an Arab state given its large percent of non-Jewish Arab citizens. The conflict might even be seen as a kind of civil war. It maybe many things but race-based it is not.

On BDS, note that its leaders, directly or indirectly, advocate a unitary state in the area based on policies that guarantee an overwealming Muslim Arab majority. The favored chant at their events is "from the river to the sea Palestine will be free." And after this freedom who do they want it to be free from? As one key BDS leader said to me, "the best thing we can do to solve the conflict would be to lobby for a change in US immergration law to allow Isreali Jews to freely move to New York City."

This might make extreem Arab Nationalists and thier Know Nothing friends feel good but in time the chant back to them from the majority of their close Jewish cousins might be "from the river to the sea let's just be Palestinian free." If it gets to this, which I hope it won't, I'll take bets giving very good odds on which chant will reflect the outcome given the relative power relationships.

Posted by Jake321 on May. 02, 2013 @ 1:46 am

Wow, you guys are seriously ignorant. Palestinians have no rights to land that has already belonged to Israel before they came. Palestinians are REFUGES because their OWN country of origin kicked them out...and guys say the land of Israel belongs to them? Stupid stupid stupid people. You don't even make sense in anything you say.

How in the world can you even support people who murder their own people in religious fanaticism and others for the same reason? Do you guys become blind when they rape and murder women and send their boys to kill themselves? You realize that the Muslims want to destroy every Israeli? They want to destroy America and every nation that isn't theirs? And you idiots just skip around with rainbows and butterflies and rush around to help them. You support the evil and deny the right to life for an innocent nation that has been bullied by the entire world for thousands of years....I'm ashamed you are in my country and pretending to be Americans. I'm ashamed that you victimize the victim and justify the bully.

And there are MORE people who support Israel than you losers claim, more than your kind who cries to continue the rape and pillage of a people defending their own land. Lying won't change the truth. Gosh, you make me sick. It's no wonder out nation is dying...we have scum like you...rats and roaches who infest and bring diseases of injustice, greed, and pride.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

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