Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Op-Ed: We Choose to Invest

When I was a freshman at Stanford in 2006-2007, divestment launched on campus in relation to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. At the time, it was sudden, it was divisive, and it was damaging. Although the bill was defeated in the ASSU Senate, the ramifications continued for years, dominating much of my Stanford experience. Tensions were high on campus as many people felt alienated and disillusioned by the process. Interfaith dialogue was deeply shaken as religious communities found themselves on opposite sides of a destructive debate.

Recently, a similar bill was proposed in the UC Berkeley Student Senate. Following that, one was also submitted to the UC San Diego Student Senate. From accounts that I have heard from friends at Berkeley, the experience was equally traumatic. Although the bill at Berkeley was also defeated, the ripples it has caused for their community will be long lasting. To my dismay, there once again seems to be the beginnings of an Israeli/Palestinian divestment campaign here at Stanford.

One powerful line from the hours-long debate at Berkeley came from the Cal Chabad Rabbi. He made the point that you cannot fight darkness with darkness; you must fight darkness with light. A negative campaign against alleged abuses will only bring more negativity and damage. And, it will not address the issues or solve the problems – it will only cause further polarization and make peace even more elusive. In my experience with divestment when applied to this conflict, damage is wrought, but nothing positive comes of it. In the past, divestment campaigns helped combat apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Darfur. However, the divestment campaign against Israel is a crass bludgeon, which reduces an incredibly complex situation to euphemisms and demonizations.

Therefore, the Stanford Israel Alliance chooses to invest, and we hope you will join us. We agree that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deep, complex, and painful. We support the Palestinian people in their desire for an independent state alongside the State of Israel. To that end, we wish to help the Palestinian people build up their infrastructure and economy, which will be the basis for a future state.

In the coming weeks, Stanford Israel Alliance will be raising awareness and support for two NGOs that are working to improve Palestinian and Israeli society. Lendforpeace.org is a microfinance organization based in the Palestinian Territories, inspiring entrepreneurship among Palestinians. The Peres Institute for Peace is an Israeli organization that builds connections between Israeli and Palestinian businessmen, environmentalists, and civil leaders to forge common frameworks between the two peoples.

Our goal is to move past the venomous rhetoric that divestment inspires and attempt to tackle the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from a positive perspective. It is our responsibility as Stanford students to help foster a more nuanced understanding of the issues, and to deal with the legitimate grievances that exist.

Stanford is a place of innovation and change. Perhaps this is one area where we can live up to our reputation.

Yishai Kabaker ‘10
Stanford Israel Alliance

  • Bud Rubin

    Mature article with thoughtful actions to help bring about a win-win solution to a long time problem

  • Lewis Marshall

    I have three problems with this article.

    “…the divestment campaign against Israel an incredibly complex situation to euphemisms and demonizations.”
    To me, it sounds like you’re making an veiled accusation that the divestment campaign is a form of anti-Isreal or anti-Jewish activism. I suspect that it’s mostly about ending a humanitarian nightmare, but if you are making accusations bigotry, I’d prefer that you state them clearly rather than be euphemistic. If you’re not, then focus on the policy, and let others do the same.

    “In the past, divestment campaigns helped combat apartheid in South Africa and genocide in Darfur.”
    I applaud you for stating the facts in your article, but you then move on as though this has no relevance. Why is Israel different? If anything, Israel is more economically able to deal with this sort of pressure.

    “The Stanford Israel Alliance chooses to invest.”
    Again, I applaud your goal. Economic development and economic ties will certainly improve lives and create bonds. But I feel you misunderstand the larger political issues here. Divestment creates political pressure and economic incentive to reach a peace agreement. Investment does not.

    Overall, if you’re against divestment, that’s fine, but I wish you wouldn’t act as though it’s beyond the pale to consider it.

  • Lewis Marshall

    “Interfaith dialogue was deeply shaken as religious communities found themselves on opposite sides of a destructive debate.”

    On a more academic note, I think it’s a little silly to think that religious communities disagreeing with each other is a threat to interfaith dialogue. If religious communities always agreed, there would be no purpose to interfaith dialogue. Moreover, the very purpose of being at a collage campus is to have your ideas challenged.

    The organization I’m a part of, Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics @ Stanford, disagrees fundamentally with the religious organizations of this campus, but that hasn’t stopped us from having respectful and productive dialogue, and great events, with a variety of religious groups.

  • kim

    What article involving Israel would be complete without the morally and rationally bankrupt comments of the Marshalls.

    In terms of the op-ed, it is a noble goal, but it seems like you don’t get reciprocal intentions or actions from the Muslim community at Stanford or in general. For the vast majority of them, sustainable peace and respect of a non-Muslim country in the middle east is not desirable.

  • stanfordsenior

    I too was here when the first divestment bill emerged on campus. I can only speak from personal experience, but when this bill was gaining popularity (among people who did not necessarily oppose the policy, but more likely, liked having things to yell about), it was the only time I ever did not feel safe/ welcome on the Stanford campus as a Jewish student. Though this, I assume, was not SCAII’s aim, interfaith dialogue was in fact greatly shaken. Though this bill appears to be seem more sugar-coated than the divisive first one (changing the terminology from “Confronting Apartheid” to “Restoring Hope,”) the aim and opportunity for potential destruction are still the same- without a common ground on which to agree regarding the need to divest (i.e. the public agreement that existed regarding South Africa in the age of Apartheid), this is not an issue that should be taken up by the Stanford Senate. As the author stated, Stanford is a university founded on the principles of inclusion, safety and self-respect. If passed, this bill would not only divide much of the student body from the government which they elected, but it would also divide the student body itself, abandoning any chance for meaningful and proactive dialogue between the two sides.

  • American

    I have a better idea. Instead of whining about the middle east, why not invest in the Mid West instead? We’re hurting at home, so let’s take care of our own first. I choose to invest in America.

  • to American

    Hear, hear.
    Seriously though, the Berkeley bill tried to divest from GE and United Tech, both Connecticut-based companies together employing hundreds of thousands of American workers.

  • The real injustice

    The real injustice is that there are currently 56 Muslim states. 22 of these states are members of the Arab League. What everyone seems to be missing, is that this conflict is about carving the 57th Muslim – 23rd Arab state out of the world’s only Jewish state – the size of New Jersey.

    The offer of the SIA to work to invest in this 57th Muslim-23rd Arab state is a most generous offer considering that there have been huge investments from the world already (think UNRWA with funding mainly from Western nations) and that it just seems to get worse over there. The Arabs of Palestine and everywhere else have still failed to recognize even the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Read their Charter(s).

  • phil

    The energy spent constructing a divestment program would be better spent constructing a program to reduce anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian schools and Mosques

  • riled

    “the Muslim community at Stanford or in general. For the vast majority of them, sustainable peace and respect of a non-Muslim country in the middle east is not desirable.”
    are you kidding me? what kind of bigoted statement is that? do you really think you have the right to not only speak for, but also misrepresent, a student group on campus? you have no right and i hope that you see the errors of your ways and refrain from such statements in the future.
    And as for the article, 1000 (as your facebook group is aimed at raising at the moment) dollars raised for these NGOs is a positive goal, but this is not an all or nothing ordeal. Money can be invested in good causes-GREAT, but money could also be divested from bad companies-ALSO GREAT 🙂
    and “fighting darkness with darkness?” So there is an admission that there is some darkness that needs to be fought. excellent. Now, the campaign for hope does not at all sound malicious to me, in fact it sounds like a very positive, powerful campaign, and certain people who wish to see it fail are *making* it seem negative.

  • complete ;)

    “the Muslim community at Stanford or in general. For the vast majority of them, sustainable peace and respect of a non-Muslim country in the middle east is not desirable.”
    are you kidding me? what kind of bigoted statement is that? do you really think you have the right to not only speak for, but also misrepresent, a student group on campus? you have no right and i hope that you see the errors of your ways and refrain from such statements in the future.
    And as for the article, 1000 (as your facebook group is aimed at raising at the moment) dollars raised for these NGOs is a positive goal, but this is not an all or nothing ordeal. Money can be invested in good causes-GREAT, but money could also be divested from bad companies-ALSO GREAT 🙂
    and “fighting darkness with darkness?” So there is an admission that there is some darkness that needs to be fought. excellent. Now, the campaign for hope does not at all sound malicious to me, in fact it sounds like a very positive, powerful campaign, and certain people who wish to see it fail are *making* it seem negative

  • Nvid

    Israel needs America more than America needs Israel.

  • phil

    when I witness Muslim groups like South Bay Mobilization disrupt public meetings and threaten the safety of opposition speakers I realize that many Muslims have no concept of free sppech. They somehow believe that the constitutional right of free speech that we enjoy in this country gives them the right to deny the free speech of others. That’s right , the twisted logic is that their rights can be enacted in such a manner as to disallow others the right to express themselves.
    I strongly suggest that every Muslim applying for citizenship be given a crash course in our Bill of Rights. Those who can’t comprehend the meaning of the Rights be given a one way ticket to their country of origin

  • Arafat

    By definition are Islam and apartheid joined at the hip? Read this article and tell me if this is not the case. Maybe we should divest from Islam?
    ********************************************************************************************

    Islam Is Incompatible With Diversity
    Written by Daniel Greenfield
    Monday, 08 March 2010 05:05

    Before the rise of Islam, the Middle East had a wide range of religions and cultures. So much so that it is difficult to imagine the world today without the ideas and beliefs that emerged from there. Today however the Middle East has one dominant religion and one nationality. While there may be numerous countries, they all compromise an Arab Muslim Empire that extends from North Africa to the Gulf. An Empire that with the exception of Israel and Iran consists of one race and one religion, with all others either exterminated or subjugated as second class citizens.

    That Empire was built through the ideology of Islam, that provided a manifest destiny to the quarreling Arab tribes who had already begun to overrun the region. Islam began by giving Mohammed and his followers the right to loot and enslave anyone who did not obey them, and ended by turning his cult into a fanatical worldwide movement bent on doing what they had done to the Middle East… to the entire world.

    The worldwide spread of Islam has been aided and enabled by the First World’s love of multiculturalism and diversity. But as history shows, there is no surer way to destroy cultural and religious diversity, than by introducing Islam in to the mix. The idea that Islam can be an ingredient in a multicultural society is as foolish as the idea that adding a tank full of piranhas to an aquarium will result in species diversity. Because Islam does not participate in the ecology of a multicultural society, it is a predator consuming and destroying cultures and beliefs… and leaving only corpses and frightened victims in its wake.

    The Middle East which was once home to Jews, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Gypsies, Nabateans and Persians, and where Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism– has been reduced to Islamic Arabia. Mosques have been built over the demolished ruins of churches and synagogues. Entire populations have been forcibly converted to Islam, their children raised to hate and kill their own brethren. The survivors were compelled to pledge allegiance to their new masters, to keep their heads down and wear badges of inferiority. To pay tribute and always remember that the Arab Muslim was now the ruler here.

    To understand the mad hate that Muslims have for Israel and their obsessive need to wipe it off the face of the earth, understand this. To the Arab Muslim, Israel represents a successful slave rebellion. A rebellion in which the former slaves, the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries who fled there, not only bested their masters but repeatedly proved themselves their superiors. That is something the Arab Muslim has never been able to accept, vowing to pay any price to destroy Israel.

    The rise of Israel threatens Arab Nationalism because it threatens the return of the region to its Pre-Mohammedan state. As mercenaries of Rome, the Arabs had razed Jerusalem and put an end to even the fiction of a Jewish state that had been maintained under the dominion of Edomite Roman appointed kings of the Herodian dynasty. The Mohammedan ideology united them into a powerful force that swept through the power vacuum created by the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. That ideology swept around the world, appealing to tribal thugs and tyrants because it replaced the complexities of Judaism and Christianity, with the story of Mohammed’s rise to power and his subjugation of his enemies. And so it went until the sick man of Europe died, and the Middle East was parceled out into European colonies.

    But the end of European colonialism did not restore the region to what it had been, instead it ended the New Colonialism in favor of the Old Colonialism. Once again the region was divided into Arab Muslim states with everyone else reduced to vassal status. European colonialism departed and restored the Arab Muslim colonialism which had turned the Middle East into such a hopelessly backward place to begin with. And faced with the same arrangement of tribal states fighting amongst themselves, those Arab Muslims who dreamed of ruling as a Master Race again, once more turned to the ideology of Islam to unify them in their war against the rest of mankind.

    Israel’s existence is a thumb in the eye of Islam. It mocks the Koran’s pretenses that Islam is the inheritor of Jewish history and Jewish prophets. Thus is undermines Mohammed’s status as the final prophet to mankind. Any rebellion by non-Muslims against Muslim rule is considered blasphemous, but one that also undermines the Quranic revelation, endangers the entire theology of Islam. And so adding to the humiliation of the Middle East’s “Master Race”, is that the creation of the modern day State of Israel was also a sharp tug on the Prophet’s beard.

    The rise of a New Middle East that would have the religious and cultural diversity of the Pre-Mohammedan era would mean the end of the Arab-Islamic empire, an idea that threatens the heart of their identity and ambitions. As the harbinger of that New Middle East, Israel represents an existential and historical threat to that dark empire. It betokens a world in which the slaves will be free, in which men will no longer be compelled to be Muslims. In which the peoples of the Middle East will be able to reclaim their freedom again.

    And indeed today, Israel is the only country in the region that offers religious freedom. As a result even an Islamic splinter group such as the Bahai, make their base in Israel, because they are not safe anywhere else. The Bahai represent exactly the sort of dangerous evolution of Islam, that centuries of Sharia law and the headman’s ax had been geared to prevent. Islam has remained as static as it has, primarily because it only permitted reform movements have sought to drag it away from any innovations and back to the time of Mohammed. But in a New Middle East, Islam itself might change and become something else. And that is something its leaders will never tolerate.

    Yet the very same American and European leaders who have made “diversity” into their bible and “multiculturalism” their scripture, howl against Israel, while importing Muslims into their countries by the planeload and the boatload. And unsurprisingly, Europe is experiencing exactly what the Middle East has. European cities are being overrun by gangs of thugs, little changed from those who looted caravans and raped their captives as followers of Mohammed. Blasphemy laws are being enforced by force and by threat of force. Ignorance is replacing knowledge. And once great cities are turning into dungheaps simmering with hate.

    Europe’s greatest cities are turning into the Middle East. And this should surprise no one at all. Once upon a time, Alexandria, Damascus, Constantinople and Jerusalem were cosmopolitan centers of culture and learning. Today only West Jerusalem amounts to anything, precisely because it is the only one of them not under the boot of Islam.

    Islam destroyed the Middle East. And now it has its sights set on Europe and the rest of the world. While First World politicians may preach diversity, the flood of Islamic migrants washing up on their shore are not interested in diversity, their culture, law and religion is Islam. They want no others… and more importantly they will tolerate no other.

    The bearded piranhas have been tossed into the European aquarium where they are now proceeding to reproduce in large numbers while devouring the other fish. Given some time, the tank will consist of piranhas fighting each other, and a handful of smaller fish who have survived mainly because they are of some value to the piranhas. Namely the small yellow Dhimmifish. In other words the European aquarium will come to look exactly like the Middle Eastern aquarium, made of equal parts rubble, dirt and hate. A region where the literacy rate is lower than Sub-Saharan Africa. Where women are property. Where there is no constitution or law, only the will of an Imam or a tyrant.

    That is the Europe that the advocates of diversity and multiculturalism are speedily bringing about. That is the Europe, the America, the Australia and the Canada that their grandchildren will have to live in. It will not be a diverse place, except in the diverse numbers of slaves. There will be no culture, no freedom, no knowledge and no truth.

  • Arafat

    Here is another fascinating article on Islam’s inherent need for conquest. Maybe we really should divest from Islam?

    The Crusades

    The Muslim Game:

    Muslims love talking about the Crusades… and Christians love apologizing for them. To hear both parties tell the story, one would believe that Muslims were just peacefully minding their own business in lands that were legitimately Muslim when Christian armies decided to wage holy war and “kill millions.”

    The Truth:

    Every part of this myth is a lie. By the rules that Muslims claim for themselves, the Crusades were perfectly justified, and the excesses (though beneath Christian standards) pale in comparison with the historical treatment of conquered populations at the hands of Muslims.

    Here are some quick facts…

    The first Crusade began in 1095… 460 years after the first Christian city was overrun by Muslim armies, 457 years after Jerusalem was conquered by Muslim armies, 453 years after Egypt was taken by Muslim armies, 443 after Muslims first plundered Italy, 427 years after Muslim armies first laid siege to the Christian capital of Constantinople, 380 years after Spain was conquered by Muslim armies, 363 years after France was first attacked by Muslim armies, 249 years after Rome itself was sacked by a Muslim army, and only after centuries of church burnings, killings, enslavement and forced conversions of Christians.

    By the time the Crusades finally began, Muslim armies had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world.

    Europe had been harassed by Muslims since the first few years following Muhammad’s death. As early as 652, Muhammad’s followers launched raids on the island of Sicily, waging a full-scale occupation 200 years later that lasted almost a century and was punctuated by massacres, such as that at the town of Castrogiovanni, in which 8,000 Christians were put to death. In 1084, ten years before the first crusade, Muslims staged another devastating Sicilian raid, burning churches in Reggio, enslaving monks and raping an abbey of nuns before carrying them into captivity.

    In 1095, Byzantine Emperor, Alexius I Comneus began begging the pope in Rome for help in turning back the Muslim armies which were overrunning what is now Turkey, grabbing property as they went and turning churches into mosques. Several hundred thousand Christians had been killed in Anatolia alone in the decades following 1050 by Seljuk invaders interested in ‘converting’ the survivors to Islam.

    Not only were Christians losing their lives in their own lands to the Muslim advance but pilgrims to the Holy Land from other parts of Europe were being harassed, kidnapped, molested, forcibly converted to Islam and occasionally murdered. (Compare this to Islam’s justification for slaughter on the basis of Muslims being denied access to the Meccan pilgrimage in Muhammad’s time).

    The Crusaders only invaded lands that were Christian. They did not attack Saudi Arabia (other than a half-hearted expedition by a minor figure) or sack Mecca as the Muslims had done (and continued doing) to Italy and Constantinople. Their primary goal was the recapture of Jerusalem and the security of safe passage for pilgrims. The toppling of the Muslim empire was not on the agenda.

    The period of Crusader “occupation” (of its own former land) was stretched over less than two centuries. (The Arab occupation is in its 1,380th year).

    Despite popular depiction, the Crusades were not a titanic battle between Christianity and Islam. Although originally dispatched by papal decree, the “occupiers” quickly became part of the political and economic fabric of the Middle East without much regard for religious differences. Their arrival was largely accepted by the local population as simply another change in authority. Muslim radicals even lamented the fact that many of their co-religionists preferred to live under Frankish (Christian) rule than migrate to Muslim lands.

    The Islamic world was split into warring factions, many of which allied themselves with the Frankish princes against each other at one time or another. For its part, the Byzantine (Eastern Christian) Empire preferred to have little to do with the Crusaders and went so far as to sign treaties with their rivals. Even the Muslim armies that eventually pushed out the Christian rulers spent far more energy fighting each other, both before and after the various re-takings of Jerusalem.

    Another misconception is that the Crusader era was a time of constant war. In fact, very little of this overall period included significant hostilities. In response to Muslim expansion or aggression, there were only about 20 years of actual military campaigning, much of which was spent on organization and travel. (They were from 1098-1099, 1146-1148, 1188-1192, 1201-1204, 1218-1221, 1228-1229, and 1248-1250). By comparison, the Muslim Jihad against the island of Sicily alone lasted 75 grinding years.

    Unlike Jihad, the Crusades were never justified on the basis of New Testament teachings. This is why they are an anomaly, the brief interruption of centuries of relentless Jihad against Christianity that began long before the Crusades and continued well after they were over.

    The greatest crime of the Crusaders was the sacking of Jerusalem, in which 30,000 people were said to have been massacred. This number is dwarfed by the number of Jihad victims, from India to Constantinople, Africa and Narbonne, but Muslims have never apologized for their crimes and never will.

    What is called ‘sin and excess’ by other religions, is what Islam refers to as the will of Allah.

  • Dusty

    “To me, it sounds like you’re making an veiled accusation that the divestment campaign is a form of anti-Isreal or anti-Jewish activism.”

    All too often it is. At UC Berkeley, the failed divestment resolution was capped off with swastikas appearing on campus. And according to Harvard president Lawrence Summers, “Divestment is anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent”