Every so often, we get a moment when a remarkable future starts to unfold before our eyes. And when it happens, it's our responsibility to do everything within our power to help it along. One of those moments is happening right now, unbeknownst to most of the world, on the University of California's Berkeley campus.
Berkeley professors and students of every race, religion, and nationality are standing courageously side by side and calling on the university to divest from companies that profit from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. In March, the student Senate voted 16 to 4 to divest. Then, the Senate president vetoed their vote and last week, after 10 life-changing hours of testimony that lasted through the night, the vote to overturn the veto was tabled.
What happens over the next week in Berkeley is critical, not just for the movement there but for the burgeoning movement around the country. Once again, Berkeley is a birthplace of a movement that could change the course of history. Students all over the United States are watching closely, learning, and preparing a massive divestment campaign the likes of which hasn't been seen in decades. Important? World-changing? Without a doubt. Last week, I was there during the first attempt to overturn the veto when nearly 900 people packed the room. We were Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, Israelis, Christians; grandmothers and students and everyone in between - the majority in support of divestment. This next vote is even more critical. Most of us can't be in the room when UC students hold their vote, but we can and must be represented. Our diversity, our staunch support, and our commitment must be represented.
Last week, hundreds in the room wore bright green stickers that said "Another (fill in the blank) for human rights. Divest from the Israeli occupation." We want your name on those stickers next week.
The truth is that the students at UC Berkeley have already won, building on the efforts of students at Hampshire College and the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus. They have secured support from an unprecedented range of people including Nobel prize winners, rabbis, world renown scholars, Israeli and Palestinian peace groups and more. There has never been a debate on an American campus like the debate these students have made happen.
But with your voice, they can make it to the finish line.
Thank you in advance for you help today. These students are making history - and I'm grateful we can count on you to help.
Dana Bergen Board President, Jewish Voice for Peace