Israeli co-authors NYU resolution to divest from companies with Israel ties

Rose Asaf says people listen when Israeli Jews speak up about the issue, but school says it won’t implement call as ‘endowment should not be used for making political statements’

Rose Asaf (Screen grab via Washington Square News)
Rose Asaf (Screen grab via Washington Square News)

An Israeli citizen was the co-author on a resolution passed by New York University’s student government calling on the school to divest from companies with Israel ties, Haaretz reported Friday.

The university has said it opposes the resolution and will not be moving ahead with it.

According to the daily, Rose Asaf co-authored the motion along with Leen Dweik and Bayan Abubakr, two students affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

The measure calls on the university to divest from three companies — Caterpillar, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin — that the resolution says has ties to the Israeli military, as well as “any other companies involved in the violation of Palestinian human rights and human rights globally.”

In a secret ballot Thursday, the measure passed with 35 votes in favor and 14 against, along with 14 abstentions.

The NYU campus in downtown Manhattan (Jonathan71/Wikimedia Commons)

“I approached it as an Israeli Jew,’ Asaf told Haaretz. “When Israeli Jews speak up about these issues, people listen. I need to use my voice to uplift Palestinian voices.

“It really comes down to the fact that my tuition money, that I pay to NYU, is being used in violation of international law. When other students realize that, they are going to be just as angry, and take similar actions,” she said.

Asaf says that she was born in the United States, but her parents were born in Israel. She said that although her family supports her, “it doesn’t mean they will always support my politics.”

However, she noted her family has concerns following the case of Lara Alqasem who was detained for two weeks and recently began studies in Jerusalem after a high-profile case in which the Supreme Court overturned her deportation from the country for allegedly supporting the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, known as BDS.

US student Lara Alqasem at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on October 17, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“I’m very fortunate that right now, the BDS ban only applies to foreign nationals,” Asaf said. “Since I have an Israeli passport, I, unlike others, am not banned from seeing my family. You know, Lara Alqasem and I are so different in our privilege, because she is Palestinian and I’m Israeli.”

Members of the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter introduced the resolution, which was cosigned by 61 student groups and 35 faculty members.

University spokesman John Beckman said in a statement that the resolution “is at odds with the Trustees’ well-understood position that the endowment should not be used for making political statements.”

He also said that implementing the resolution would also face challenges “on an operational level,” since investments are made through funds controlled by financial managers.

NYU President Andrew Hamilton has previously denounced the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

The pro-Israel group StandWithUs condemned the resolution, calling it “discriminatory” and “hateful.”

Earlier this year, more than 50 student groups at NYU signed a resolution supporting BDS and pledging to boycott campus and off-campus pro-Israel groups. In October, more than 30 student groups cosigned an open letter to Hamilton saying they would not cooperate with the NYU Tel Aviv program.

At nearby Barnard College, the student body voted in April to ask the administration to divest from eight companies doing business with Israel.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed