Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. has given ground to students who believe seriously in the existence of time travel.
The group, Students for Justice in Palestine, following suit of Jimmy Carter, has given Israel the label of an apartheid state—like South Africa of the last century.
The students called for the college to divest mutual funds from any company that “provides the Israeli military with equipment and services in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza” [“Hampshire College cuts ties with fund invested in Israel,” The Boston Globe, Feb. 12].
And so the university got rid of its State Street mutual fund, which was invested in over 200 companies—many of which they said did not meet its socially responsible criteria. Hampshire College denies it divested because of Israel.
According to www.investigativeproject.org, Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, spoke with the college, and they told him divestment was a function of the presence of “employment discrimination, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing, unsafe workplace settings and dealings with Burma or Sudan.”
To its credit, Hampshire does have funds still invested in other Israeli companies or those that do business there.
But the fund was only reviewed under pressure from the student group. And it’s telling that several groups, such as Democracy Now! and Students for Justice in Palestine, have claimed this as a victory for resistance against the so-called “apartheid wall.”
But what is unexplainable is that college only now voted to “revise its 1994 socially responsible investment policy to bring it up-to-date with current standards and practices,” according to its news page, pulling funding from the State Street Fund because it includes companies that manufacture military products.
Is it somehow news that Caterpillar, Intel or Motorola make products that benefit militaries? Then why change policy now?
And why target manufacturers of military goods? Are military products inherently bad? Or is Israel using them in a bad way?
Dershowitz also notes “Hampshire President [Ralph] Hexter acknowledged that, ‘it was the good work of SJP … that brought this issue to the attention of the committee.'” Further, the college refused to state upon request that they had applied “existing principles, requiring them to divest from companies, which failed to meet certain standards.”
Hampshire bowed to pressure from Students for Justice in Palestine, saying that it didn’t do so because of Israel. But the student group still got what they wanted in the divestment—and the college just looks like a wet noodle.
Also, divesting those funds that specifically make military goods, echoes the Columbia University Divestment Campaign.
The campaign states: “In limiting our divestment campaign to companies that manufacture and sell arms to Israel, we have focused on a fundamental problem in the conflict today: the use of Israeli military force on a civilian population.” Columbia has the guts to say what Hampshire College won’t—why selling arms to Israel is bad.
Because divestment worked in South Africa, groups like Students for Justice in Palestine need to use the word “apartheid” and equate Zionism with racism.
The word is the battle: If they can convince you that a wall and checkpoints are in fact apartheid, then they can encourage divestment across college campuses.
These campaigns to sell off mutual funds that potentially benefit Israeli state and military actions are not new. Beginning in 2002, mostly from America’s elite universities such as Harvard, student groups have long used accusations of racism against Israel.
The Hampshire College student group has done as much, using “apartheid” to describe the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stating the “Zionist Movement … to establish a Jewish state in Palestine … is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
UC Berkley’s Students for Justice in Palestine group decries the “Israeli system of apartheid and discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian population,” and “condemn[s] the racism and discrimination underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel.”
Another—a group at Penn State—equates Zionism with racism. One video posted claims the IDF does not represent Jews, but is an arm of the “Zionist Supremacy.”
But none mention the freedom of Arabs in Israel—voting rights, parties in the Knesset, high standards of living. This is not apartheid.
Instead of describing why the security wall is not the best actionable Israeli policy in response to terror—an entirely legitimate position—Students for Justice in Palestine and similar groups undercut their goal by falsely accusing Israel of racism and apartheid. This is not 1990, and this is not South Africa.
Rest assured, though, that Israel is not subject to the narcissistic disease of wanting to be loved by the world. Between being loved and assuring its own survival, it’s pretty clear what Israel will do.