Israel was presented as the only bad actor in the Middle East, with neither rockets nor suicide bombs mentioned or acknowledged during the campaign.
Everett also pointed to the crux of what is driving the divestment mania across U.S. campuses.
Despite all the rhetorical flourishes, humanitarian concern about Palestinian Arabs is not the motivating factor behind divestment. At bottom, the divestment measures are driven by hatred of Israel. And here is her proof:
After the massacre of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp [of Palestinian Arabs in Syria], there were no cries for justice. I was outraged at the vicious destruction of Palestinian lives, so why weren’t they? This leaves me doubtful of the genuineness of the motives of the students who brought forth this referendum.
The organization behind the divestment referendum is the Princeton Divests Coalition. Included in this group are the Princeton Committee on Palestine, Students for Prison Education and Reform, DREAM team (immigration justice), Asian American Students Association, Black Leadership Coalition, Alliance for Jewish Progressives and MASJID (Muslim social justice) groups.
The student referendum followed a letter signed by several dozen faculty members to Princeton’s president in late fall, decrying Israel’s “brutal” military “occupation” and “land seizures.”
The faculty called on Princeton University to “divest from all companies that contribute to or profit from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and continued siege of Gaza.” A similar letter followed a few weeks later, signed by more than 500 undergraduate and 73 graduate students.
Princeton Committee on Palestine board member Katie Horvath, a senior, told the Daily Princetonian that although she was disappointed, she was not surprised at the outcome of the referendum.
“We had three goals, and only one of them was the actual numbers of the referendum. The other two goals were education and reaching the broader audience outside of this University,” Horvath said.
Leading up to the vote, Elise Backman ’15 told the Daily Princetonian that the NoDivest Campaign “saw through the misleading language of the referendum and ended up rejecting what we saw as a counterproductive proposition,” she said.
Everett explained that the NoDivest Campaign was entirely student-driven. No one group was the driving force. “Many students,” she said, “were uncomfortable with the divestment referendum and so we spoke out.”
Despite the small margin, Everett sees the divestment ballot defeat as an enormous victory for the pro-Israel community on college campuses nation-wide:
We beat a divestment referendum that used egregiously biased language. Any student would be tempted to vote “yes” to this referendum that claimed its purpose was undoubtedly in the moral right, fighting for human rights. However, NoDivest helped students see past the misleading, biased language of the recent divestment referendum. Today I am very proud of my fellow Princetonians.
The NoDivest Coalition issued a public statement after the results of the referendum was released. The statement expressed the hope “the rejection of this referendum will mark the last time” Princeton students “put this divisive issue so far outside the scope of campus life and beyond the purview of student opinion.”
In its statement the Coalition also called on all Princeton students to join with them in “supporting initiatives that positively impact the lives of Palestinians and Israelis through constructive, meaningful action,” and linked to a new student initiative, Tigers Together.
Princeton graduate students will participate in a poll next week to determine their views on the same ballot question.
This article has been corrected to reflect the information that another divestment referendum was defeated at San Diego State University earlier this month.