Calif. board votes in student leader of BDS movement as regent

(JTA) — A student leader in the anti-Israel divestment campaign at the University of California, Berkeley, was elected to serve on the University of California system’s Board of Regents.

Sadia Saifuddin, a student senator at Berkeley, was voted in by the board on Wednesday as a regent for 2014-15. She was up against two other students for the post.

Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, in a statement criticized the selection.

“The choice of Sadia Saifuddin as student regent sends the wrong message and in fact, defeats the Regents own goal of being more inclusive,” she said.

The Berkeley student senate’s Israel divestment resolution co-sponsored by Saifuddin called  for divesting $14 million in university and Associated Students funds from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Cement Roadstone Holdings because they profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Jewish settlements. The nonbinding resolution passed in April by a vote of 11-9.

Saifuddin, Rothstein said, “instigated a bigoted campaign that purposely marginalized one group of students on campus. How can she be expected to represent all students when she has an extremist point of view against those who do not agree with her?”

The daughter of immigrants from Pakistan, Saifuddin told the campus newspaper following the resolution vote, “I don’t want one cent of my money to go toward fueling the occupation of my brothers and sisters,”

A former UC student regent, Jonathan Stein, praised Saifuddin.

“Sadia is what kept UC Berkeley from cracking apart through that experience,” he said.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center had launched a petition against Saifuddin’s nomination.

Saifuddin graduated from the Council on American Islamic Relations’ Youth Leadership Program in public speaking, media relations and governmental activism in 2008 and has maintained close ties to the organization, which has been accused of promoting radical Islam.

The Board of Regents sets educational policy for the 10 universities in the UC system and appoints their senior officers.