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OPINIONS

Op-Ed: Why I support Israel, Palestine and divestment

“When you have two alternatives, the first thing you have to do is to look for the third that you didn’t think about, that doesn’t exist.” -Shimon Peres, President of Israel

In fall 2011, Students for Palestinian Equal Rights (SPER) renewed its call to action with a petition entitled, “Divestment from Companies whose Direct Violations of International Law have an Injurious Impact on Palestinians: Petition to the Trustees of Stanford University.” As with each major issue that has affected the Stanford community – from the Vietnam War, to South African apartheid, to ROTC – this issue invariably reached the office of the ASSU Executive. Individuals and groups from both sides of this debate have approached me.

In order to best represent all Stanford students, I felt that it was my duty to read and educate myself about this debate, in addition to experiencing it myself, so that I could form a detailed and well-researched opinion. In that spirit, I agreed to be part of a student delegation to Israel this past summer (sponsored by the Israeli government), attended the 2012 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference last quarter, and visited the opposing OccupyAIPAC encampment. Throughout these visits, I continued to read various Middle Eastern news sources (including Al Jazeera, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post) to stay abreast of current events in the region. Over the past six months, I have read and re-read the petition, met with many members of the Stanford community, and done my own independent research. Of course, one can never stop learning about a topic as deep as Israel-Palestine, but I do believe that I have now formed a detailed and well-researched opinion.

Stanford is not removed from this debate; rather, our investments are actively serving to perpetuate this conflict, which harms all parties in the region. Stanford and its investments have a real impact in Israel-Palestine – politically, socially, and economically. For example, Stanford’s investments in Caterpillar Inc. mean that we are directly complicit in the unlawful destruction and demolition of Palestinian property to allow the construction of Israeli settlements and Israeli-only roads. These activities are considered illegal by the Fourth Geneva Convention, as affirmed by the U.N. Security Council. In short, our investments are not serving the interests of the Israeli or Palestinian people; rather, we are merely helping to intensify this conflict, and result in greater profit to these firms. The continuation of the conflict in Israel-Palestine does not serve the interests of Jews or Muslims; instead, the continuing debate has merely served to oppress many, worsen Israel’s image, and divide the international community. As a community, we must seek and demand a long-lasting peace.

Ultimately, this petition is not radical, extreme, or anti-Semitic; this petition is pro-justice, pro-peace, and based on the approved Stanford model of investment responsibility. The petition calls for a specific action for a specific purpose – to divest from companies engaged in unethical actions, ensuring that we fulfill our legal and ethical obligations to persons outside Stanford.

While there may be other modes of engaging in dialogue – many of which I greatly admire, such as the Seeds of Change project and the Peres Center for Peace – I believe that this petition acts as an additional push towards true peace and justice for all peoples. All peoples – regardless of race, ethnicity, or creed – have a right to self-determination. No single initiative will create a lasting peace; it is only if we stand together, to promote all human rights, that true peace might come to the Middle East.

Citing University policy, carefully tailoring the issue to the Stanford case, and levying charges against those most responsible, this petition is deeply pro-peace, pro-dialogue and pro-Stanford. Having seen the power imbalance in Israel, I believe that this petition strictly seeks to force those at fault – which includes leaders across the international political spectrum – to engage in real and lasting dialogue, designed to create a long-term solution in the Middle East that respects the equally legitimate narratives of Palestinians and Israelis.

As President Peres stated, we must find a third solution to this crisis. I believe that this petition can help start that search. For these reasons, I sign this petition and urge my fellow Stanford community members to do the same.

 

Michael Cruz ’12

ASSU President

  • Joel

     Same old same old;  ‘wide swaths of Palestinian civil society’-how romantic, last I heard it was a cult. If you were more balanced and honest in your views then progress could be made but, you operate according to a non compromising non conciliatory  agenda which only leads to conflict. Who do you speak for?,  the fantasy brigade?

  • Joel

     It is mainstream and he is jumping on the bandwagon.  History has already shown who is on the right side of this conflict.

  • http://pamolson.org/ IsraelPalestinePeaceLover

     Spoken like a true fascist. This mindset seems to work until either (a) the injustice is perpetrated against you and/or (b) the people you oppress decide not to let you get away with it anymore.

  • http://pamolson.org/ IsraelPalestinePeaceLover

     I speak for the non-embarrassingly-racist brigade.

  • http://pamolson.org/ IsraelPalestinePeaceLover

     Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you don’t know what you are talking about? I have lived in the region, and there is nothing idiotic about Michael’s position.

  • Joel

     I guessed that.

  • Stanford ’04

    Michael, I commend you for taking an informed view that is based on hard facts rather than listening to the emotional and often inaccurate arguments generally made by the press and almost every US politician.

    I graduated from Stanford in 2004 and found the Israel/Palestine debate on campus to be heavily influenced by false arguments. Standing up and criticizing Israeli policies usually meant being accused of racism and bigotry, attacks I faced for participating in non-violent peace protests and for writing a pro-peace op-ed in the Daily.

    Given your visible position as ASSU President, I think your views are all the more courageous. Remember that truth and justice ultimately prevail. No matter how under siege you feel today, I guarantee that you will look back and be proud of yourself for going against the grain and standing up for what you believe in.

  • guest

    Absolutely not, but you also have to be aware of the consequences of what stand you do take and how it will be interpreted to the public

  • guest

    But does Michael realize that Caterpillar Inc. is a huge company and is used in many many countries, not just Israel, and in addition it has built many more homes than it has teared down???

  • Concerned

    Actually to my understanding IsraelPeaceLover is just saying that if the other party isn’t knowledgable about the issue there is no conversation to have- and any opinion given is irrelevant, unfortunately like Michael’s. It has nothing to do with shared views. Also, the only group that actually  has welcomed open dialogue about this issue on this campus has been SIA, who has hosted multiple events to get both views into the public. For the most part SPER has repeatedly refused to cooperate… what does that tell you?

  • Guest

    So please review how each of Israel’s wars started, and who exactly started them…

  • IsraelPalestinePeaceLover

    I changed my mind. Michael’s argument is baseless. 

  • Guest

    Thanks for writing in again, Suz. Accurate? Factual? I don’t know what those words mean in your book, but Israel is a “democratic” secular state, not a Jewish one. Get your facts straight.

  • http://pamolson.org/ IsraelPalestinePeaceLover

    Haha, this obviously isn’t me. Someone else posted under my handle. Nice try. :)

  • Guest

    I guess that last comment was for the cerebellum …

  • Guest

    Way to make the case against divestment.

    As for your concern about accuracy, from Israel’s declaration of independence:”[We] hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”

  • Guest

     I agree. Assimilating themselves into the Soviet war machine, cheering Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, and cheering bin Laden’s attacks in 2001 left very little room for interpretation.

  • celia

    The Boycott-divestment
    advocates are misleading the public. They are supporting Hamas,
    the terrorist group that is ruling Gaza, or Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian
    Authority that rule the West Bank. The boycott -divestment advocates will not help
    Palestinians unify their governments or make Hamas change its
    violent doctrine that calls for the murder of Jewish
    people.

    If
    the Palestinians truly wanted independence, they could have gotten it
    in 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, and 2008. They always
    said no. Now they refuse to return to negotiations. Despite this,
    the boycott
    and divestment advocates prefer to blame and punish Israel even
    though it has been continually attacked by generations of Palestinians
    who have been taught to hate Jews and to believe that violence is
    the solution to their problems.
    It
    makes no sense to punish Israel because
    the reason there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians is
    because the Palestinians remain dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
    The boycott-divestment advocates are speaking for Israel and Jewish
    hatred.

    Sincere people who really care about Middle East peace are not among the boycott- divestment crowd.

  • Outraged

    “Even” Krugman? Who is ridiculously liberal and biased?

    And what occupation are you talking about???