When I was in college, “divestment” was a big thing. The idea was that colleges, which generally have nine or more figure endowments, should use their investments to bring political pressure on social issues, pulling their money away from “bad” companies and putting it into good ones.
As a rule, colleges and universities are reluctant to do this because the purpose of the endowment is to fund the school, not play politics. And once you start playing that game, you get lost in a morass of conflicting political squabbles trying to figure out which companies aren’t going to annoy some segment of the student population. But that didn’t stop student organizations from constantly agitating to divest from … well, whatever they were mad about that week. In my senior year, they were pressuring my college to divest from the Mall of America. Not because it was a shitty investment but because they had a Hooters there, if you can imagine such a thing. Because I’m sure the one thing that would persuade the Mall of America to boot out a profitable business was a for a small liberal arts college to pull their investment.
It turns out that, in the last twenty years, student organizations have only gotten stupider:
We have covered anti-Israel student government divestment votes the past couple of years.
Groups, typically led by Students for Justice in Palestine assisted by Jewish Voice for Peace, try to get student governments to vote to divest from specified companies doing business in Israel, such as Caterpillar and HP. Sometimes they succeed, mostly they fail. In the end, it’s purely symbolic, since student governments have no such power.
Symbolism matters, though, because the campus movement is part of a larger goal of demonizing and dehumanizing Jewish Israelis. Even when they lose a vote, the BDS crowd claims victory because they forced people to talk about their issue.
Last academic year there were a series of divestment initiatives that failed, but recently in the U. California system, several have passed. The anti-Israel groups are very strategic, taking the time to elect their supporters to student councils, and that long-term strategy has paid off in places like UCLA, which rejected divestment last spring, only to see it pass this fall after a change of board membership.
One thing that slowly is coming to light, however, is that the anti-Israel movement is not the grassroots, student-led movement it purports to be. In fact, it has a highly coordinated, well-funded action plan assisted and coordinated by outside groups.
Over $42 million has been designated for this kind of agitation, including money from the Students for Justice for Palestine, who featured a terrorist at their 2012 conference. Those of you old enough to remember the Cold War may remember that the Communists did the same thing: funding “grass roots” organizations to advance their agenda.
That’s not even the worst part:
The anti-Israel movement had another success today, at the University of California system-wide Student Council, where two divestment motions passed, 9-1-6.
The first Resolution was the usual divestment from Israel, and the Israel motion was the focus of heated protest.
Inside, the anti-Israel students also voted to support a boycott of the U.S., among other countries, through a second Resolution calling for divestment from American, Mexican, Russian, Turkish, Indonesian, Brazilian, Sri Lankan, and Egyptian government bonds.
Yes. The U Cal student government has called on the university to divest from America. As Jacobson points out, if you’re going to define Israel’s actions as worthy of divestment, you’re going to have to divest from basically the entire world.
There’s no crazy like student crazy.
Update: Speaking of divestment idiots.