Students for Palestinian Equal Rights Banner

7:26 PM — Presentations on Issue of Divestment —

H.A.:

The specifics of the topic of divestment will be brought up in this presentation. I strongly encourage you to pay close attention, and to use this opportunity to educate yourselves in the issue and become involved in the dialogue that is taking place on campus.

(a) 7:26 PM - Andrew Ehrich 

3 Main Points

  1. Detail how SCAI’s petition has misrepresented and unfairly portray the current conflict: intellectually dishonest, insulting and hurtful to the Jewish community
  2. Why divestment is not the path to peace, why it is simplistic & counter-productive
  3. Examples of alternatives to divestment that will be better for this campus

* The situation in the Middle East is extremely complicated. We need a dialogue that fairly engages both sides of the issue, that encourages intellectual openness & meaningful dialogue.

* Rhetoric that demonizes one side of the conflict while ignoring the larger conflict is offensive and unwelcome at this university

Main Points

1. SCAI petition

2. Divestment not the path to peace

3. Alternatives that will create this type of dialogue

(b) 7:42 PM - Omar Shakir

Much of the dialogue on campus has been based on misunderstanding of what the divestment campaign is all about. My goal here today is to demisify the issue and clearly outline the goals of the campaign.

We call on SU To divest from companies that engage in specific actions that violate human rights and international law (5 actions listed). Clarification: These criteria are separate from those in the senate bill, there are important differences, the bill is in no way reflective of SCAI’s overall position.

1. Divest from companies that operate on illegally occupied land

Includes: companies that operate or build facilities on Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank & Golan Heights

2. Divest from companies that provide military support & weaponry to facilitate illegal operations in Occupied Territories

3. Divest from companies that provide support for the construction and maintenance of Israel’s separation barrier

4. Divest from companies that profit from home demolishment and land confiscation

5. Divest from companies that engage in practices of institutionally discrimination

(c) 7:58 PM – Questions for both Presenters

H.A.:

For now, limiting questions to senators, because on Senate’s time.

N.U.:

Omar, what is your opinion on the alternatives that Andrew gave?

Omar Shakir (O.S.):

V.V.:

Andrew, what is your response to the way Omar has petitioned the divestment campaign, i.e. not attacking the state of Israel / its right to have a nation, but rather against the acts of companies that violate human rights—the attack being on specific companies rather than the Jewish students at Stanford?

Andrew Elrich (A.E.):

The reason why I feel threatened is because Omar’s points and SCAI’s points talk about Israeli’s security measure that are maintained to protect Israeli citizens. Israel has a right to exist as a democratic state with secured borders. To attack policies that are being undertaken to achieve that is to attack the right of Israel to protect itself. Israel has tried different things before it built a security fence, it did not work. And the security fence has reduced attacks on Israel by 90% since it was built.

O.S.:

A.E.:

Omar referred to international law. International Court of Justice’s ruling (that the security fence violates international law) actually doesn’t hold because in order for a ruling to have the force of law, both parties must agree with the framework in which it was discussed. The International Court refused to admit and allow Israel its right to protect itself and the fact that fence was built to protect itself.  Therefore the ruling does not hold the force of law.

O.S.:

That’s like saying a murderer can disagree to a jury trial because he didn’t consent to being tried. To say that the ruling doesn’t apply because Israel didn’t consent to the agreement to me is a fallacious argument.

Lisa Llanos (L.L.):

Andrew, considering your statement about Israel’s right to protect itself—my concern is what can be done in terms of the protection of human rights. International law is the only authority we have over this. If Israel isn’t really considering itself subject to international law, if not international law, who is holding them in check? What will they consider a legitimate request to stop some of these practices?

A.E.:

It is in Israel’s self interest to create conditions for a lasting peace. Unfortunately, the International Court of Justice did not recognize some of the things Israel has brought. The problem is that Israeli measures for security are meant to ensure a situation where a peace process can take place. Israel cannot negotiate with Palestinians and Palestinian authority when terrorism is taking place and the citizens are in threat. I think it is unfortunate when international authorities cannot be trusted, but it is still true that Israel has a right to protect itself and a right to exist as a state.

O.S.:

3 points—

  1. International law the only standard we use, if we don’t have it there’s nothing else we can use.
  2. If security walls built for security why not just on the border, why is it built deep in the West Bank, annexing resources?
  3. “It’s too complicated”—Why always the argument that it is too complicated, too nuanced? The idea that the issue shouldn’t be dealt with because “it is too complicated” is simply a way to avoid an actual discussion.

P.G.:

I know that a couple of senators are concerned in terms of the bill—that it won’t necessarily represent the opinion of the student body. Omar, you said that you yourself have some issues with the bill. Do you think a bill can be drafted that can accurately reflect the concerns of the majority?

O.S.:

P.G.:

My concern is, is the bill the right way to go about this? The world cannot decide on this issue, can the Stanford Undergraduate Senate decide?

O.S.:

You can’t be naïve and think that one action will end the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You need to break it down to the micro-level. This is our endowment and we want the university to investigate the five sets of practices and whether we should be investing in that. You have to look at the nature of the request—look at it as a calculation based on the 5 criteria and not based on “How can we solve this conflict?” I think we can be trendsetters here at Stanford—people look back on motions taken here and that has a very big impact nationally.

Marcelo Worsley (M.W.):

Andrew, can you touch on how you feel on each of the 5 points, how it might either impede progress in trying to build peace?

T.O.:

How do the 5 points of the bill jeopardize Israel’s rights to protect itself as a nation state?

A.E.:

V.V.:

I’m analyzing the situation—it’s not about divesting from Israel itself, it’s about how our endowment is directly involved in facilitating these events.

A.E.:

M.W.:

We all acknowledge that injustice has taken place on both sides. Do you see any of these divestment tactics as actually changing the injustices, or have an impact on the injustices that are taking place?

A.E.:

No. I’ll repeat again that Israel has a right to protect itself. From 1993-2002, terrorist attacks that made citizens vulnerable going out. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, and still attacks continued to target Israeli civilians. Divestment cannot change anything because it assumes that Israel could change the situation, but doesn’t because it is racist and apartheid—which is anti-Semitic, hurtful and simply not true.

O.S.:

You can be pro-Israeli and still support these measures. These measures are aimed to attack the root cause of the conflict and build future peace for both people. As an example, the divestment in Sudan. Many Moslems and Sudanese said that it was hurtful, that they were being demonized. But it wasn’t the case because it wasn’t anti-Sudanese, it was selective divestment. To make this simplistic equation is wrong.

Final Statements

O.S.:

A.E.:

You cannot solve a problem by simply demonizing one side. You have to solve a problem by bringing both sides together. Divestment does not do that, because it attacks policies that operate within a larger historical context that cannot be simplified as one side doing right, and one side doing wrong. On this campus it will polarize people by assuming that Israel can solve the problem, but doesn’t. Israel has tried to solve the problem multiple times and tried negotiations time and time again.

Click Here to Read our Divestment Petition!

Are you interested in getting involved with SPER?

→ Come to our next
meeting!

→ Join our mailing list!

→ Come to our next
event!