Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions has evolved into something the whole family can get behind — that is, the whole family of those who oppose democracy, human rights and liberty in every form. The most recent BDS resolution to reach UCLA’s campus is new and improved, upgraded from simple Israel-hatred to a leftist novelty that appeals to the political movement’s most extreme: disrespecting the brave servicemen and servicewomen who fight for freedom not only on our behalf, but who also defend the inalienable rights of the oppressed on foreign shores. The movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel has finally expanded to show the whole of its intent: a movement based on hatred of the West.
It is not only Israel and the Jews who are targeted anymore. The ideological threat of BDS has gone from simple anti-Semitism to something that hits home. Most recently, the UCLA External Vice President’s office sponsored and brought forth a resolution that called for the University of California system to “divest their holdings from socially irresponsible companies that are involved in violence and violations of human rights” and that called upon UCLA to “disassociate itself from groups or companies that promote systematic prejudiced oppression […] by divesting from companies that participate in or profit from violence, human rights violations, etc. …” Implicitly included in these “socially irresponsible companies” that “participate in or profit from violence and human rights violations” are the United States of America and its Armed Forces.
At the end of a laundry list of questionable (and some un-cited) human rights violations by the United States, along with the “2008-09 Israeli offensive on Gaza” (that is, the defensive Operation Cast Lead, launched after Israel suffered thousands of Hamas rocket attacks on its cities) come the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq, both U.S. campaigns against the global threats of communism and terrorism. Most of the noble “student campaigns” mentioned oppose violence against certain communities. By including the War in Iraq, a campaign for the freedom of the Iraqi people, with the genocide in Darfur as something to rally against, this resolution dishonored not only Former President George W. Bush and his administration’s actions against global terror, but also the troops that fought in the War on Terror.
The War in Iraq (including Operation Iraqi Freedom) is not a human rights violation. In 2003, the U.S. was still reeling from 9/11, a heinous terrorist attack that devastated the country. Iraq was a dangerous enemy because of its history of attacking its neighbors, using chemical weapons against Iranian and Kurdish citizens, supporting terrorist groups (Saddam Hussein was linked to Al-Qaeda), defying UN Security Council resolutions, and seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. Hussein’s killing his own people was a human rights violation. Operation Iraqi Freedom, which liberated and brought democracy to the Iraqi people, is not.
To call Operation Iraqi Freedom and the greater War on Terror (not an imperialistic campaign to conquer the Middle East but a response to a direct national security threat to the U.S.) human rights violations is not only absurd but also a huge affront to our troops. This resolution clearly calls for UCLA to divest from — and not just financially, but it naturally assumes that support will also be withdrawn from — the war effort and everything that OIF encompasses, including support for Armed Forces veterans and service members. It not only minimizes but demonizes and lies about the work that U.S. soldiers, marines, pilots and sailors have done in and especially for Iraq, including stabilizing a nation and taking down a dictator who posed a threat to both the U.S. and the Iraqi people.
“‘Student campaigns against the war in Iraq’ were considered among other causes to ‘demonstrate our commitment to justice and equality for all.’ This claim discredits the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who serve our country each day and fight to give us the freedom to live in peace and safety,” said Katie Mellon, vice chairman of UCLA’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. “Regardless of one’s opinion on the war in Iraq, this affront to our troops has no place in a resolution targeting the investment decisions of our university.”
Besides insulting U.S. troops and marginalizing future U.S. servicemen and servicewomen on campus (Reserve Officer Training Corps students), the resolution strove to ostracize the politically conservative/Republican community, which supports the War in Iraq and all American anti-terror efforts in the greater war on terror, by demonizing their beliefs. “I just wish Bruin Republicans could have been engaged and involved in the initial drafting of the resolution,” says Darren Ramalho, chairman of Bruin Republicans. “The original language definitely made statements that upset those who identify as people with conservative values.”
By calling for divestment from the War in Iraq, this resolution calls for divestment from the U.S. Besides the fact that UCLA could not possibly do business with what one assumes are companies “profiting from violence and human rights violations”— that is, armament and military technology companies — the suggestion is ridiculous. Instead of focusing on, for example, boycotting gasoline because the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are human rights violators in the extreme, the proponents of the resolution have decided to stop supporting American products and companies. As they are citizens and residents of the U.S., they might have a hard time doing so.
It is well-known that when people preach hatred against Israel and the Jews, the hatred is ultimately geared towards the West and America, the “Great Satan.” A resolution that lumps together the War in Iraq and “human rights violations” and decries the United States military’s actions is eye-opening proof. After a long public comments session at the Undergraduate Students Association Council table, the “Resolution Calling for Ethical Investments” was tabled indefinitely. BDS took a different approach this time — not calling BDS by its name — but calling for divestment from the United States and insulting the troops wasn’t the smartest move, especially for Internal Vice President Candidate Lana El-Farra, who sponsored and brought forth the resolution. Her opponent (and winner of the election) Avi Oved condemned the resolution and promised that as internal vice president, he would seek to represent all communities.