Divestment not the route to achieving a better Israel

As the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign (BDS) gains steam in college campuses across the country, many student legislature organizations have heard propositions to divest all university funds from either any Israeli organization or companies who have sold to the military or government of the State of Israel. The Campanile believes the Divestment hearings to be both ineffective and unnecessarily discriminatory against Israel and will create more problems than it solves.

The Campanile does not deny wrongdoings committed by Israel, nor does it blindly support the state in its actions. We believe that Israel is not justified in occupying the territories of Gaza and the West Bank, that the settlements movement is only provoking further conflict, and that the escalation of violence ends up hurting Israel further. These wrongs do not, however justify the Divestment movement in its current state, and further prove the necessity of a two-state solution created by the leaders of both people and deemed fair by all parties involved.

Divestment does not legitimately advance peace in any measurable way, and can actually add to tension in campuses as opposed to promoting discussion and working toward a solution. Although the BDS movement is quick to point out the flaws in Israeli actions, it does not actually propose any real-world policy changes or possible borders for two new states in the region.  The movement is only a punishment to Israel and does not advance the peace process in any way.

In addition, Divestment only responds to the injustices on one side of the conflict, while ignoring terrorist attacks and internal oppression in the occupied states. The Divestment movement is also ineffective because it hurts Palestinians financially, the same people the movement is attempting to save from oppression. Many of the Israeli companies singled out by the Divestment movement have factories beyond the Green Line and employ many Palestinians. If these companies lost business, both Israeli and Palestinian laborers would lose their livelihood and their ability to provide for their families. Finally, Divestment is ineffective as it calls on the Board of Directors of the university to enforce the terms of the Divestment, and there has yet to be a single case where the Board has actually enforced the Divestment.

Even more important than the actual ideology of the BDS movement is the wave of hatred and anti-semitism that can follow the proposal of Divestment in a student legislature. In one local example, following a Divestment vote at the University of California, Davis, swastikas were spray painted on the building of a Jewish fraternity. Jewish students have also reported having been left disgusting messages or items left at their dorms after they argued against Divestment in the legislature. In addition, the Divestment hearings can create unnecessary tensions among different voices who otherwise could work together to create a concrete road to peace. As opposed to arguing over what is essentially a political statement, supporters of Divestment should put their efforts towards a  motion with an actual impact.