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Chicago's Loyola University passes anti-Israel divestment resolution

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[March 21, 2014]  By Paul Miller

CHICAGO  The Unified Student Government Association of Chicago's Loyola University passed a resolution this week calling for the institution to divest itself from companies that do business in Israel.

The resolution, proposed by the Loyola chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, passed Tuesday 26-0 with two abstentions. The measure specifically targets eight corporations that do business in the West Bank. Included on the divestment list are Caterpillar, Veolia, Hewlett-Packard and SodaStream.

The measure, which encourages university administrators "to withdraw investments" from the companies, went unchallenged during the student government meeting.

StandWithUs National Campus Program Director Brett Cohen, an alumnus of Loyola University, told the Jewish News Service the divestment resolution was introduced suddenly, "using undemocratic tactics and no debate or opposition."

COHEN: Boycotters "used undemocratic tactics" to avoid debate on anti-Israel initiative.

"Students for Justice in Palestine introduced the bill without warning at the meeting, precisely to prevent debate. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement often relies on these unseemly political maneuvers to force through their agenda, which shows that they are afraid to debate this issue on its merits," he said.

"The student government was hoodwinked by a movement, which is openly against coexistence and a two-state solution, and seeks the destruction of Israel," Cohen said.

His reference to the absence of any debate or opposition is supported by a video of the vote posted by the group Chicago Divests. The room is silent as the legislation is being called for a vote and then erupts into cheering at its passage.

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Last month, a similar vote at the University of California, Los Angeles was hotly debated before ultimately failing. On the night of the Loyola vote, student governments at Arizona State University and the University of Michigan indefinitely tabled similar resolutions.

A statement on SJP's Facebook page claims the organization gathered "signed support from over 800 undergraduate students" and "in passing Divestment, Loyola University Chicago is upholding the Jesuit traditions and values that it represents."

According to Breitbart.com, Loyola University of Chicago is the "first Catholic institution, and the first from the state of Illinois, whose student government has passed an anti-Israel divestment resolution."

Recently elected officials in Illinois voiced their disapproval of the BDS movement.

Democratic State Sen. Ira Silverstein has proposed SB 3017 that will restrict "public universities from using state funds to promote political boycotts of Israel and other foreign nations."

U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., introduced the Protect Academic Freedom Act. The bipartisan legislation amends the Higher Education Act of 1965, blocking universities from receiving federal funds if they engage in the boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars

Roskam has referred to the BDS movement as "hateful campaigns."

[This article courtesy of Illinois Watchdog.]

Paul Miller is an op-ed contributor to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, parent of Watchdog.org. He serves as principal of Pauliegroup LLC, a Chicago-based new media and political consulting firm. Follow him on Twitter @pauliespoint.

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