Princeton Undergraduates Vote Down BDS Resolution

The referendum related no only to Israeli policies but also to Egyptian restrictions on Gaza and the policies of the Palestinian Authority.

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Princeton University campus in New Jersey. Students are voting this week on divestment referendum.
Princeton University campus in New Jersey. Students are voting this week on divestment referendum.Credit: Bloomberg

A campaign to pass an undergraduate student resolution at Princeton University in New Jersey that would have called on the university administration to divest of companies involved in Israel's occupation of the West Bank has been defeated, the Daily Princetonian reported on Friday.

The resolution, which was reportedly opposed by 52.5 percent of 2,032 students voting and supported by 47.5 percent, called on the administration of Princeton University to divest from its ownership of stock in companies "that maintain the infrastructure of the Israeli occupation."

In a reference that more broadly related to the situation in the West Bank and border restrictions imposed on movement across the borders of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip by Egypt as well as Israel, the failed resolution would have called on the university to divest of stock in companies that facilitate what it deemed "Israel’s and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip" as well as firms that "facilitate state repression against Palestinians by Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian Authority security force,” according to the Princeton daily's website.

Princeton Committee on Palestine board member Katie Horvath told the Daily Princetonian that the outcome was no surprise. "We knew from the outset that this was going to be an uphill battle, and we had done our research and looked at the previous divestment movements at Princeton,” she said. There may be another attempt at passage next year, she added.

For her part, Princeton senior Elise Backman, who is a member of the No Divest coalition opposing the resolution, called the language of the resolution misleading and said her group advocated other ways to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace between the two sides. “We were just really proud that the majority of the voting students saw through the misleading language of the referendum and ended up rejecting what we saw as a counterproductive proposition," she said, according to the Daily Princetonian.

Earlier this month, the student government at the University of California at Santa Barbara rejected an Israel divestment resolution, for the third year in a row, but this time by a single vote. Pro-divestment resolutions have passed at a number of American college campuses including Stanford, Oberlin College, Loyola, Wesleyan and the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego.

On Tuesday, the Tennessee legislature became the first U.S. state legislature to condemn the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement directed at Israel.

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