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Saturday, February 24, 2024

ASM proposal asks to divest from Israel, draws blowback

A piece of legislation proposed by several members of the Associated Students of Madison could urge the university to divest from organizations that have indirectly supported Israel in its ongoing conflict with Palestine.

The proposal has already drawn criticism from a fellow representative, who said the proposal heaps blame too harshly on Israelis.

The resolution is part of a larger demand for the university to cancel business contracts with companies that are “complicit in the violations of Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives,” according to the legislation coauthored by ASM Shared Governance Chair Omer Arain and representatives Denzel Bibbs, Tyriek Mack and Beau Burdett.

If passed, the legislation will ask UW-Madison to break contracts with specific companies tied to violence against the mentioned groups and pledge to block any future contracts with such companies, as well as issuing a statement condemning Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Clauses within the legislation that describe a history of Israeli violence against Palestinian citizens drew intense blowback from Max Goldfarb, who will be a representative on the Student Services Finance Committee this fall.

“They criticize Israel relentlessly yet fail to recognize that it is an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not an Israeli pogrom like they make it out to be,” Goldfarb said Tuesday.

Goldfarb noted the resolution does not address the displacement of more than one million Jews in what he called “ethnic cleansing” for several Arab countries after World War II, and said the Jewish community at UW-Madison “will rightfully fight this sickening piece of legislation.”

The legislation will be presented for the first time during Wednesday’s Student Council meeting. Arain declined to comment on the proposal before that presentation. 

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