Anti-Israel group advocates ethical investments at Carleton

Tensions ran high last week at a meeting of Carleton University’s students’ association as members of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) became heated when a motion put forward by the group was not accepted by council.

According to witnesses, the crowd outside the council chambers became so unruly, pounding on the walls and floors, those inside felt the need to call campus security to see them out.

Three recommendations were being put forth by SAIA, including one that would see Carleton’s pension fund immediately divest its stock from four companies that Reem Buhaisi, member of SAIA, said are “complicit in violations of international law in occupied Palestine.”

The second and third recommendations included the pension fund adopting a socially responsible investment policy and that the university work with the Carleton community to ensure the recommendations be followed.

‘The executive of CUSA wanted to introduce their own motion which would … not specifically target Israel,” said Hashem Hamdy, a councillor representing the faculty of public affairs, regarding a new motion which was set to come before the original SAIA motion that had come to the attention of CUSA last month.

The motion calling for ethical investment put forward by CUSA was passed after an amendment made by members of SAIA to include the words “illegal occupation.”

Seeing as SAIA’s original recommendation was for ethical investment, the chair of the committee ruled their motion, which was next on the agenda, out of order.

It was at this point that Hamdy and Emile Scheffel, Israel Awareness Committee member and student senator, said the crowd outside was notified and began to allegedly become unruly.

“Unfortunately it seems as though there are groups on this campus or at least one group, SAIA, that is absolutely determined to discredit and delegitimize Israel any way they can,” said Scheffel.

There have been allegations of homophobic remarks being said and intimidation tactics being used by members of SAIA and those that supported the original motion they put forward, though Buhaisi denies that these events took place.

“If there is an actual validity to that statement we absolutely deplore that and we don’t condone that whatsoever,” she said.

Though the night’s events are somewhat in question, Buhaisi assured that SAIA’s goals for the meeting were met and the group was pleased with the results.

“We do claim [Feb. 17] as a victory specifically because the amendment was made to include ‘illegal occupation’ and their motion is actually part of our three recommendations for our entire divestment campaign,” said Buhaisi, who explained that SAIA’s next step is to bring their recommendations to Carleton’s board of governors.

Hamdy, however, disagreed that SAIA gained anything from last week’s meeting, saying they crossed a line with their actions.

“I think they’re very radical and they think that you accomplish radical goals through radical action and their conduct last night proved otherwise,” he said.