BDS graffiti sign
BDS graffiti sign Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Portland State University's student senate has passed a resolution urging divestment from companies that "profit from human rights violations" by Israel against Palestinian Arabs, JTA reported on Wednesday.

The resolution, which passed Monday with 22 votes in favor, two against and one abstention, draws links between black and indigenous civil rights activism and pro-Palestinian efforts, according to the news agency.

The resolution was authored by student senator Phoenix Singer and Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, and calls on the university to divest from companies allegedly “harming Palestinians” by working with the IDF. It also alleges that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land since its establishment in 1948.

The text mentions several companies by name, including Caterpillar, GS4, Hewlett Packard and Motorola, all of which it says "profit from human rights violations against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli government", according to JTA.

It also calls on the university "to put in place an internal investment screen which prohibits investment in any company that provides weapons or equipment used" to harm Israeli or Palestinian civilians, conduct Palestinian Arab home demolitions, and build or maintain “settlements” or the Israeli security fence in Judea and Samaria.

In a statement released in June, Portland State President Wim Wiewel called the resolution "divisive and ill-informed." Since the university's funds are managed by the Oregon state treasurer together with other public university funds, the resolution in itself "has no practical effect," Wiewel wrote at the time, according to JTA.

The Israel advocacy group StandWithUs condemned the resolution in a statement that noted the vote took place on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.

"[T]he claim that Israel's mere existence is an 'occupation' makes it clear that the purpose of this resolution is to promote bigotry, not justice or human rights," said StandWithUs Pacific Northwest coordinator Noa Raman.

Portland State University is one of several universities that have voted in favor of BDS. One of those is New York University (NYU), where the graduate student workers union in April voted to support the BDS movement and asked that NYU cuts its ties with Tel Aviv University for its "discrimination" - even though the university has many Arab students.

In 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) promoted an academic boycott of Israel.

While campuses have promoted BDS resolutions, many states across the U.S. have passed legislation against the anti-Israel movement.

Among the states that have passed bills or signed orders against BDS are New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia.

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