Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

Gross misconduct in APIRL’s handling of SJP’s divestment request

The Stanford University administration committed gross misconduct in hearing and rejecting the divestment request submitted by Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Susan Weinstein, Chair of the Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing (APIRL), which heard the request and advised the Stanford Board of Trustees on it, served on the Board of Directors of Stanford Hillel, an organization officially opposed, locally and internationally, to divestment as it relates to Israel/Palestine.

SJP submitted our divestment request in April of 2014, and we formally presented to the APIRL in May and October of 2014. Weinstein told us that she resigned from the Hillel Board on Jan. 26, 2015. Weinstein confirmed to us that she guided the APIRL’s handling of the request, and she deliberated and voted on SJP’s request, all while being on the Board of Stanford Hillel. The entire process of the APIRL and the Board of Trustees was thus fatally compromised. Basic standards of fairness in these kinds of administrative proceedings require that the person presiding over the process cannot be an institutional opponent or supporter of a contesting party.

The statement of the Board of Trustees, which was presumably in line with the APIRL’s recommendation, echoes the cautions about “divisiveness” and “complexity” in the positions of the Coalition for Peace (CFP), the main student organization opposed to divestment. Stanford Hillel supported the CFP financially and organizationally, at the expense of the opinions and voices of Jewish students in favor of divestment. Furthermore, the Board of Trustees’ refusal to even investigate the well-documented allegations of substantial social injury to Palestinians mirrors Hillel’s policy of censoring discussion about divestment. This similarity in the positions of the Board of Trustees, Hillel and the CFP raises grave doubts about the integrity of the administration’s process, given Weinstein’s dual role as a director of Hillel and the Chair of the APIRL.

To be clear, we are not opposed to members of the APIRL having previously existing opinions on divestment — we imagine most did. What we cannot accept is having a member of the board of directors of an organization explicitly and actively opposed to our request being the person in charge of hearing it.

An analogy may be useful. Would you trust the fairness of a university hearing about discrimination based on sexual orientation if it were chaired by a member of the Board of the Boy Scouts of America — an organization which officially discriminates against, in their words, “open and avowed homosexuals?” In our case, we are almost certain that the Stanford administration would not have allowed the APIRL to be chaired by a director of a pro-divestment organization, such as the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

We are alarmed at the university administration’s blatant misconduct in this process, and we expect that Stanford will correct the situation immediately. We believe that the only reasonable remedy is an entirely new review for SJP’s divestment request, from which Weinstein should recuse herself. We eagerly await the administration’s response — we want to help Stanford end its complicity in the suffering of and violence against Palestinians as soon as possible.

Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine

Contact the Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine at StanfordSJP ‘at’ gmail.com

  • I find the level of calculated distraction and false allegations which BDS faces is astonishing…it’s as though there is a well-financed campaign of misinformation in operation on social forums.

    I would just like to draw attention to the number of times even in these comments, the suggestion is made by opponents of BDS that BDS is focussing on Israel because it is Jewish, with suggestions like “it’s not an accident that this one country is the only Jewish-majority state in the world.” I hear that a lot…. and it is such a false argument. If there was another Jewish-majority state that didn’t violate international laws, practice apartheid with the backing of US aid, it would not be targeted by BDS.

  • rab

    Oh yeah, “well financed.” I’m a private individual. My “financing” comes from my own pocket. Where does you national and international campaign get its resources? How do you manage to put on speaking tours for various speakers all over the country? How is it that almost simultaneously across the country MSAs began backing off the call for boycott and SJPs appeared and took over? How is it that the Abbas speech at the UN in 2014 almost exactly repeats the demands of the BDS movement?

    As to your concluding thought, you may wish to explain why BDS doesn’t target all the countries that truly practice apartheid (Israel doesn’t), that truly violate international laws and that benefit extensively from their relationship with the US. For example, Saudi Arabia which has apartheid laws. Or how about China which kills its own dissidents and has practiced ethnic cleansing on a mass scale in Tibet and enjoys a $500 billion a year trade relationship with the US?

    As for “distraction” and “misinformation,” I invite you to respond to my comment above with the three numbered paragraphs.

  • I’m glad to hear you are a private individual voicing opinions on the issue, like myself. I think these are important discussions and am always disappointed when there are moves to silence debate about BDS on university campuses (and there are many, not least as reported above). As to resources, are you suggesting the SJP or any advocate of BDS has anything like the finances available to its opponents like AIPAC, AMCHA, Stand with us, ADL or the Israeli government who does, you probably know, fund programs where students are paid to post favorable message to the government online?

    Your argument as to why target Israel when other countries do terrible things too is very similar to the one Regan and Thatcher made when they opposed the boycott of South Africa. Boycotts are a strategy that work given particular circumstances and in the case of Israel, where there is a legal framework of apartheid (Desmond Tutu should recognize apartheid when he sees it), boycott is an appropriate strategy.

    To clarify what the contents of the BDS call made to world by Palestinian civic groups in 2005, I’d refer you to it:
    http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

  • rab

    Actually, since the boycott movement in its newest iteration was launched in 2001 at Durban, Israel’s GDP has doubled. Last year trade with most European and several key Asian countries grew. Israel’s economy weathered the 2008 downturn and continues to grow. VC investment and the high tech sector outperform many European countries. I could continue but I think your point that BDS is effective simply fails. Even if we look at two of your “successes” we see failure. Sodastream has decided to close its factory over the Green Line. Its jobs have now moved into Israel, too far for most of the Palestinian workers who were making as much as 4 times the wages of their peers. Now more Jewish and Arab Israelis will have these jobs and Palestinians won’t. Great victory for BDS! Or consider the French company that was co-builder of the Jerusalem light rail that was built at high cost and serves both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. This company, under BDS pressure, sold its assets in Israel at a discount to a US based investment company. The light rail will keep running except the profits will go to the US instead of France and in the future other companies will have the chance to make money in Israel while the French will have a lesser opportunity. In fact, last year, trade with Israel grew 28% with the UK but only 3% with France. So you’ve punished France and helped other countries. Great victory for BDS!

    Look, you still haven’t addressed my point above. Why don’t you try instead of feeding us more of your easily refuted propaganda.

  • Issam

    Isaac H. Winer you a sorry excuse for a human being, intellectually and morally bankrupt. Stanford’s Board of Trustees have no idea what this conflict is all about and acted solely and naively on the advice of the farcical APIRL.

  • Issam

    Tunisia, Lebanon, Kuwait and Turkey are more democratic than “Israel” could ever be and treat their minorities far better than “Israel” could ever do to its minorities. The minorities in those countries are middle class or upper class while the minorities in “Israel” are on the lower end of the economical and social ladder. “Israel” is not even a democracy and cannot be a democracy because it was founded for Jews only and there are 50 laws discriminating against Jews in “Israel”.

  • Issam

    The difference is that none defends ISIL and their crimes against Muslims and Christians alike. ISIL is being fought by a coalition of armies and militias and is denounced universally. Israel on the other hand gets immunity and diplomatic, political, economical, military and propaganda defense for its war crimes and oppression of the Palestinian people, all documented by international human rights organizations. By the way, young girls are not being kidnapped and impregnated and sold into sexual slavery throughout the Middle East. Maybe in ISIL controlled land only, which is a very tiny land of the Middle East and not recognized by any other state in the Middle East or in the world but rather fought against fiercely. That’s why people criticize Israel so much, because it’s the only country that thinks it has the right to murder and occupy the lands of other people and has countless apologists for it.

  • Issam

    The only one feeding shameless hasbara propaganda is you, claiming to be a private individual when you are an active hasbara troll. BDS has been a resounding success and a nightmare for “Israel” and its trolls and that’s why you are complaining and complaining about it, and the reason is that BDS keeps raising awareness about “Israel’s” war crimes and human rights violations. Even “Israel’s” internal security service was complaining about it. “Israel”‘s GDP may have increased but at a slower rate than the surrounding countries. The GDP of many Arabian countries increased at a faster rate than “Israel”. So while BDS has not crippled “Israel’s” economy (yet) it has certainly slowed it down. Palestinian workers in Sodastream did not earn as much as 4 times the wages of their peers. They faced discrimination and used to work 12-hour shifts. They will get other jobs in their cities and will not work on occupied territory that oppresses and kills their people. Furthermore, Sodastream will lose money by movinf its factory and by hiring “Israeli” workers because “Israeli” companies pay more for “Israeli” labour than for Palestinian labour (yet another form of apartheid).

    The French company will continue to make money in other more profitable markets than “Israel”. “Israel’s” trade deteriorated with France to 3% and this affects “Israel” more than France because “Israel” imports more from France than France imports from “Israel”. BDS will continue to make victories (such as the ASA) and all you savages can do is to sabotage or resort to unfair processes like this case which shows your intellectual and moral bankruptcy.

    Both Hamas and Fatah (definitely Fatah) want a return to the pre-1967 borders, not all of “Israel”, so you are either lying or grossly ignorant about this whole conflict. A country occupying the terriroty of another people is not a “perfectly legal mechanism in international law” but illegal in international law and more importantly morally. UNSCR 242 says that “Israel” must withdraw from the recent territories it occupied which “Israel” has never implemented. The occupation does violate the Geneva Conventions as all mainstream international organizations have affirmed. The only “international jurists” who disagree are Dershowitz and NGO Watch LOL.

    The ICJ ruling is a strong statement and proves that international law is against “Israel”. None prevented “Israel” from participating in ICJ and so “Israel” has no excuse here. “Israel” considers the UN and all international human rights organizations to be a farce anyway because they criticize “Israel’s” war crimes and abysmal apartheid and oppression of the Palestinians. “Israel” thinks that it should be above criticizm and that it’s infallible and can do no wrong at all. That’s “Israel’s” oproblem not the ICJ’s. Your ad hominems against the ICJ judges prove nothing more than your moral and intellectual bankruptcy. Just because someone is Russian or Chinese does not mean that he has no sense of justice. Lastly the ruling does not contradict UNSCR 224 or 338 but rather confirms them.

    UNGAR 194 is based on the timeless and paramount principle that states cannot evict the inhabitants of a land by conquest. That “Israel” has refused to follow this resolution based on a technicality proves what an inhumane, fascist and criminal this “Israel” really is.

    “Israel” is targeted in such a manner because it’s the only country that thinks it has the right to murder and occupy the lands of other people and finds countless apologists for it, in addition to protection from a world superpower for it. “Israel” would still has been targeted in the same manner if it was Christian or Buddhist or atheist. Your “anti-Semitism” (a technically incorrect term here because Palestinians are Semitic and Jews only form a minority of Semitic peopel) are infantile and no longer fools people.

  • rab

    From where do you get your information, Issam, from Pravda? Here’s Freedom House, widely respected across the world as a key resource for tracking both political rights and civil liberties across the planet.

    https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FIW%202014%20Scores%20-%20Countries%20and%20Territories.pdf

    Rankings are from 1-7 with 7 being lowest and 1 highest. The US, Australia and Canada, for example, all rate 1 for PR (political rights) and 1 for CL (civil liberties).

    Now let’s examine your statement.

    Kuwait – partly free 5 PR 5 CL
    Lebanon – partly free 5 PR 4 CL
    Tunisia – partly free 3 PR 3 CL
    Turkey – partly free 3 PR 4 CL

    Israel – free 1 PR 2 CL

    Clear enough for you?

    And by the way, Kuwait has virtually no Palestinians living in it because after decades of using them as cheap labor without giving them citizenship, the Kuwaitis evicted 300,000 of them (that’s not a typo, three hundred thousand) after the Gulf War for siding with Saddam Hussein. To put this into perspective, Israel didn’t kick out a single Israeli Arab or Palestinian after that war despite many of them cheering the Scuds he was raining down on Israel.

    Lebanon? After 66 years still has never given its Palestinian citizenship and their residency status prohibits them from working in many types of jobs. Since 2001 they’ve been prohibited from owning land. They also suffer without access to health care or social services or education, only receiving whatever UNWRA provides. Israel, by contrast, provides its Arabs of Palestinian descent citizenship and gives those under its control but not within the Green Line autonomy such that 120 countries recognize them as state.

    Tunisia has been hospitable to the Palestinian leadership, but apparently does not care one bit about the rest of the Palestinian people, ranking somewhere near the very bottom of all donor nations providing assistance to the Palestinians. Palestinians under Israeli military control, by the way, have higher literacy rate, birth rate, lower death rate and better infant mortality rate than Tunisia.

    Turkey has also been hospitable to the Palestinian leadership, presently hosting Hamas leaders. Of course, prior to 1917 when the Ottoman Empire controlled this area, considering it either part of their Syrian province and Jerusalem vilayet, they sucked up as much of the land’s resources as they could while giving virtually nothing back. Palestinians enjoy higher birth rates, lower death rate, better life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality than Turkey. At least the Turks are slightly more literate, 98.8% to 96.5% for Gaza and 95.4% for Judea and Samaria.

    Oh, as for Israel, it was not founded for Jews only. Read its Declaration of Independence. As for the supposed 50 discriminatory laws, if the claim were true, that’s not anywhere near as bad as what Lebanon and Kuwait have done to the Palestinians. However, it’s not 50 laws and it’s not 35 laws. Most of the supposedly discriminatory laws presented by the anti-Zionist Arab-Israeli NGO that presented them are far from discriminatory.

  • rab

    Nope, private person. Sorry.

    BDS has only been a resounding success in making the lives of Jewish students across campuses globally a misery. That’s about it.

    BDS most certainly cost the 500 Palestinians who lost their jobs with an Israeli company, Sodastream, a nice income. I was wrong, by the way, it seems to have been 5 times the average Palestinian wage: http://www.ibtimes.com/sodastream-boycott-west-bank-factory-palestinian-workers-reveal-what-they-think-about-their-employer.

    I’m sure that BDS activists living here in nice, comfy Europe and North America are very happy to fight against Israel down to the last Palestinian job. Sodastream is a nice example. Its revenues have more than doubled since 2010. There was a 10% drop in 2014 over the previous year, but they were still up over 120% since 2010. I’m sure that’s a number most businesses would be happy to accept. And, Sodastream was sharing the wealth with its Palestinian employees…until BDS screwed the Palestinians. As for 12 hour shifts, etc., Palestinian workers received the same treatment as Jewish workers. These families are weeping now because you cost them their livelihood. Think about that.

    Regarding growth of Arab countries near Israel, I’m not sure what you’re trying to prove. Under Israel, the Palestinian economy also had robust years where growth was bigger than in Israel. After all, there is much room for growth. Israel’s economy is much more mature and westernized, so of course it’s going to grow more slowly. Still, it’s not much slower and in absolute terms, it is essentially a Western economy while the Arab states are third-world economies.

    Israel’s economy grew from $127 billion in 2001 to $291 bln in 2014, growing about 2.4 times since BDS launched. It has 8 million people.

    Egypt’s economy, by contrast grew from $97 bln in ’01 to $271 bln in 2014. In other words, it grew faster than Israel, growing about 2.8 times over that period. Except that it has 84 million people, ten times that of Israel…and its overall economy is still smaller despite having a vast country (Sinai alone is 3 times Israel’s size). If you think BDS has any role in any of this, you’re dreaming.

    Regarding France, you seem a tad confused. France has a surplus in trade with Israel. It exports more than it imports from the Israeli market. The numbers are not meaningful to either country. Israel’s trade with France is about 1/200 of its GDP and 3% of its exports. France’s trade with Israel is even smaller relative to its economy. The UK is a much more meaningful trade partner, almost three times that of France and, as noted, trade there has grown by almost 28%. Just yesterday a very significant scientific cooperation treaty between UK and Israel was ratified. Yay BDS.

    Next. Hamas wants a move into all of Israel. It has been, at times, willing to concede that if certain parameters are met, then it would consider a temporary cease fire – hudna – if Israel rolls itself back to 1949 lines. Fatah has stated it would accept 1949 lines but it has also said that it would not accept any Israelis living in their “Palestine” and that Israel would need to offer a full right of return to all Palestinians and their descendants. Now, maybe in your world that’s a compromise that stops at 1949 lines, but in my world that’s called a clever scam. “Hey, give us this land and then let us flood your country with many of us so we can also take that over.”

    Occupation is a “perfectly legal mechanism in international
    law.” Why do you think you guys always reference the Geneva Conventions? It’s because they, and the Rome Statute, contain laws overseeing occupations. Regarding morality, of course Israel’s occupation is moral. You are fully aware that Israel has offered to end this situation 3 times in the past 15 years by offering the Palestinians statehood and end of conflict. Palestinians always refuse, claiming they need a little more land and the right to flood Israel with Arabs.

    You wrote: “UNSCR 242 says that “Israel” must withdraw from the recent territories
    it occupied which “Israel” has never implemented.”

    Actually, the resolution reads that Israel must withdraw from territories, not “the” territories. This point in the resolution was debated for weeks and was written very specifically to ensure that Israel would not have to return to the lines preceding the war. We have testimony to this effect from Lord Caradon, the British representative at the UN at the time who authored the resolution, and from the US representative at the time. In case you doubt him, note that he went on to head the law school at Yale.

    Also, re 242, the resolution demands Israel withdraw from territories only when all the surrounding countries live in peace with it and recognize its borders. Do you see that happening any time soon? Of course not. But here’s the interesting part. Israel has already vacated all of the Sinai and Gaza. It has treaties with Egypt and Jordan and left Lebanon up to the internationally recognized Blue Line. Essentially, that leaves Judea, Samaria and the Golan, which are a small fraction of the total territory Israel has already left. A strong argument can be made that Israel has already fulfilled its part in 242. I doubt the US or the West would let that happen, but I’m just saying that a lawyer could argue this and probably score significant points.

    As for legality of settlements and impact of 242, actually I was speaking about a petition sent in 2013 to the EU signed by about 1100 jurists and legal scholars from around the world. Yes, many of them were Jewish, but many were not. The initiative was led by Alan Baker. I have no idea if Dershowitz was among them. Dershowitz, by the way, is a very good lawyer.

    Re the ICJ. The judges are not independent players. They are pawns to their countries’ national interests. If you think that China and Russia’s governments are ethical entities whose national interests are to be respected despite the fact that they destroy other countries at will, then that speaks to your immorality, not mine or Israel’s. And sorry, their decision, non-binding decision to remind you, is purposely vague about 242 precisely because anyone who studies 242 and its origin knows precisely what the writers’ intent was. And it was not that Israel had to ever give up all of the land it conquered in ’67.

    Resolution 194, which is a non-binding resolution as all UNGA resolutions are non-binding and merely advisory, was accepted by Israel and rejected by all of the Arab states. Oops. Then, a couple of years later when the UNGA asked Israel if it would consider taking in Palestinians, it noted that it had been receiving a flood of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and had to address their absorption. It’s amazing how much of this history is driven by Arab miscalculations, which in turn are driven by hatred towards Jews.

    Your concluding paragraph makes little sense. And you should look up the origin of the term “anti-Semitism.” It was created by a non-Jew specifically regarding Jews.

  • leucippe

    What is SJP’s position on Hamas, its lethal charter, policies, and activities? Shouldn’t that figure into your cause? And, regardless of your indignation at Susan Weinstein, no respectable university administration will submit to such a divisive and controversial proposal. When BDS (and SJP) consider their one-sided position of playing the victim, without considering the history and politics of the reason, then I’m willing to listen.