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Golden Nuggets in the Alternative News Networks

Golden Nuggets in the Alternative News Networks

Yvonne Ridley

The news which reaches this side of the Atlantic usually revolves around some insulting tweet or the latest weird appointment your president has made from The White House.

Donald Trump dominates the news so much, he is the news when it comes to events in the USA and so distracts all meaningful discussion and debate of what is really happening elsewhere in America.

It's a real distortion and very irritating to those of us who are interested in events and have to go searching for nuggets of information.

During one such recent foray searching for some real news I came across this wonderful snippet of information involving a student body calling on its university to divest from companies operating in Israel.

It seems that the students' government at the University of Michigan have passed a motion 23 votes to 17 exposing three companies which "violate Palestinian human rights" while five other members of the student body abstained.

The matter wasn't treated lightly and the meeting lasted nearly eight hours, the longest in student government history, before a secret ballot was held.

In the end the students called on university leaders to investigate divestment from companies that do business with Israel after the marathon debate. Presumably the ballot was secret in order to protect pro-Palestinian and divestment members from being subject to damaging online blacklists.

The resolution was passed to investigate divesting in Israel after no less than TEN previous attempts since 2002 but what is really interesting is that the vote tally was dramatically different than last year's resolution, which was voted down 34-13.

Much work has been done by the Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) and the resolution was aimed at major companies like Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and United Technologies - all of which SAFE say contribute to the attack on Palestinians in occupied territories. SAFE had brought similar resolutions before CSG since 2014 that were voted down.

Now I doubt that this ground-breaking decision will reach the mainstream media, which is a shame because it is an important and worthy contender for any newspaper's news lists.

The event in itself was full of drama as around 400 students attended the discussion around the SAFE resolution which called on the university to divest from companies that "presently, or in the future, profit off of the human rights violations committed by Israel and that aid in the occupation and apartheid system that Israel maintains against the Palestinians."

The crowds sat and listened to the discussions which began around 7.30pm on Tuesday evening and only concluded at 3am on Wednesday morning. When the vote was revealed there was thunderous applause, tears and a whole raft of emotions.

CSG member Hafsa Tout, who addressed the debate, said afterwards that the vote to call upon the university to look into divestment showed Palestinian students that they have a voice in the campus community.

"By passing (the resolution) what we are saying to Palestinian students is we acknowledge for the first time that this is an issue that deeply affects their everyday campus experiences, and that the broader campus owes it to them to have a real institutional conversation about it," she said. "Nowhere in that validation and humanization of one group of students does this resolution isolate or marginalize another group."

What it also shows is that the BDS movement is gaining ground in America as well as across Europe and news of this debate will be roundly welcomed in the West by supporters of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment campaign.

After passing the vote, UM CSG will now call upon the university administrators to appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate the ethical and moral implications of its investments in the three companies listed in the resolution.

UM officially divested resources on two occasions in its history - from South Africa in 1978, and in 2000, when it divested from the tobacco industry. In 2015, UM CSG approved a resolution to create an ad hoc committee to investigate endowment investments in the fossil fuel industry.

Meanwhile in Washington Republican Congresswoman Betty McCollum from Minnesota and nine original co-sponsors introduced the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act. 

Make no mistake, this is a groundbreaking piece of legislation to prevent US aid to Israel from being used to detain, interrogate, ill-treat and imprison Palestinian children in its separate-and-unequal military courts.

I would urge readers here to find out if their congress representatives are supporting McCollum and, if not why not? The students in Michigan have shown what steely determination and endurance can do and we should follow their example.

I will certainly be telling my friends in the UK that maybe the pro-Israeli lobby is not as strong as we're led to believe in America and not everything goes Israel's way in the US. Of course all this news might have bypassed me if I'd not gone looking for alternative news to the antics of your president, so maybe I'll send a tweet of thanks to your POTUS as well!

* If you want to book Yvonne Ridley for an event please contact

 -Sister Yvonne Ridley is an author and journalist living in the UK. Her latest books is called TORTURE: Does it work? Interrogation issues and effectiveness in the Global War on Terror. You can order a copy here: 



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