Jennifer Loewenstein Archive


 
Here is a view of divestment from the Pro-Israel press. -J 
 
 
Divestment is not Dead
 
By Caravan Staff  |  November 15, 2005
 
Only a month ago supporters of Israel were commenting on the end of divestment campaigns against Israel. Maybe they were too hasty.

At the outbreak of the Palestinian terrorist war against Israel in 2000, Palestinian allies in Europe and the United States also launched an economic war against Israel. The "Divestment" campaign lobbied churches, municipalities and universities to "divest" their investment portfolios from Israeli firms or American corporations that do business with Israel. Some European academics also sought to boycott Israeli academic institutions and scholars. The campaigns were patterned after anti-apartheid efforts against the former South African regime.

In almost all cases, the divestment campaigns were defeated. While the Presbyterian Church approved a divestment campaign in 2004, the U.S. Episcopal Church and United Church of Christ rejected the proposal in 2005. Similarly, on almost all American campuses, anti-Israel divestment proposals failed.

By October 2005, the Reuters news agency reported, "Some U.S. Protestant churches are turning their back on the idea of dumping investments in companies profiting from Israel's West Bank occupation."

Rev. William Harter, a force behind the anti-divestment group, Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations, declared, "There's a growing awareness that this [divestment campaign] was a major mistake." It is also outdated," Harter explained, because Israel has made "major concessions and a major step toward peace" with the disengagement.

In October 2005, a group of 28 Protestant and Jewish leaders toured Israel and the Palestinian territories and concluded that "the most important lesson was that divestment would not be helpful. Rather, investment in the land and the people could make a difference... Divestment is not an effective strategy to promote peace. Rather, it is a strategy that denies the complexities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and seeks to punish Israel, rather than engage in a constructive solution."

Despite the clerics' recognition of the futility and harm of the Divestment campaign, anti-Israel academics have not wavered in their attacks. At the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses of the University of Michigan last week a group of faculty drafted a letter calling on the university to form an investigative committee to explore divestment from companies doing business with Israel.

Last week, anti-Israel protestors "packed" a hearing of the University of Wisconsin's regents who were discussing the university's investment portfolio. Speaker after speaker called on the university to divest from companies doing business with the Israeli military. As reported by the local press, The Capital Times, "Ken Goldstein, a UW-Madison political science professor, was one of the few pro-Israel speakers to attend the event. He said everyone knows that the best solution is Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side. The Palestinians have yet to control their radical elements and take risks for peace, he said. Referring to [a protestor who brought her child], he said: 'When a Palestinian mother loves her child as much as that woman loves her child, and does not encourage 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds to strap bombs onto their body and blow up Israeli -3, 4-, 5-year-olds at a pizzeria, then we'll have a two-state solution,' Goldstein said. 'This terrorism is not about a two-state solution,' Goldstein said. 'This is about driving the Israelis into the sea.'"

The Divestment campaign continues on campus.

Its single goal is to punish and weaken Israel.

The campaign rarely seeks justice in other lands such as Sudan where genocide is taking place.

It never seeks sanctions against Iran, the world's largest supporter of terrorism and the promoter of genocide against Israel.

The divestment promoters do not seek to help women or religious minorities persecuted in Saudi Arabia.



Action:

*Survey activities on your campus. Is there an anti-Israel Divestment campaign?

*Be proactive. Present the case on campus that Israel is democratic and taking great risks for peace. Israel's government supports a Palestinian state (the "two state solution") while many of the Palestinian terror organizations and supporters seek to destroy the Jewish state.

*Consult with other pro-Israel activists and organizations. Draft newspaper articles and petitions to counter anti-Israel activities.

*Encourage investment in Israel. Launch a "buy Israel" campaign to purchase Israeli-made products. Check out www.shopinisrael.com

 
Jennifer Loewenstein
amadea311@earthlink.net