Understand divestment before taking a side

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

by Briana Alford

Recently, my Facebook feed was exploding with several of my friends (Aztecs and those from other campuses) posting statuses discussing “divestment.” I was immensely interested when I found out the meaning behind it.

Divestment is a petition-like social standing of dispossession from Israel or Israeli incorporated companies. This social and political challenge has swept every major Californian college campus. To really understand what exactly it is, you must look at the significant details and sides to this issue.

 

What is the divestment?

Divest means to separate. Divestment, which is an economic term, is a reduction or separation from a shareholder, group and/or company. There can be multiple reasons for a divestment, but at San Diego State, it’s a social reasoning.

Divestment can pressure shareholders pull investments from a company because of citizens’ or petitioners’ lack of approval. A call for divestment usually includes a boycott and a cease of use of all companies, products, and/or people.

A student organization usually campaigns the divestment and proposes it to a student government. A voting process then takes place. If the divestment passes, the school can choose to divest from the corporations once they are backed by administrative support.

 

What is divestment from Israel?

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is an international campaign that calls for the end of Israeli occupation. It strives for equality of Arab-Palestinians in Israel and the right for Palestinians to return back to the area that is now recognized by the United Nations as Israel.

Students for Justice in Palestine is a national student organization that fights for the rights of Palestinians in what they believe is now the Israeli apartheid state.

SDSU has a very active SJP chapter that adamantly believes in the discontinuation of SDSU’s investment in Israeli-supported corporations.

According to calicampusdivest.com, the involved students are inspired by the movement in South Africa that brought down the apartheid.

Through student legislation, they proposed that SDSU should stop investing in companies such as General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola. These companies support, profit from and often have factories in Israel. On Feb. 19, the divestment of Israeli-supported groups was proposed by SJP at a meeting with Associated Students at the Student Affairs Board.

With a 10-7 vote, the divestment did not pass.

 

Students for Justice in Palestine believe:

SJP at SDSU believes divestment is necessary because of human rights violations of Palestinians in their homeland. Members do not support SDSU’s investment with companies that profit from such violations.

SJP President Nadir Bouhmouch feels that an approval of divestment will affect Palestinian and Lebanese students.

“They will no longer feel marginalized as students knowing that their university invests in corporations that make products which are used to oppress their families back home,” Bouhmouch said.

Even though A.S. declined the divestment, Bouhmouch has not lost hope.

“The University Affairs Board was just one route to take it through Associated Students. The moment we are taking the resolution through the Student Diversity Commission,” he said.

 

Aztecs for Israel believe:

Aztecs for Israel has noted it does not believe that Israel’s intention is to hurt the Palestinian people by inhabiting the Israeli state.

According to a pamphlet AFI members hand out on campus, the year 2000 was a time of violence with terror attacks, suicide bombers and heavy rocket fire in Israel from the Palestinian side.

They believe that the fence put in place along the West Bank is not an apartheid wall and that only 3 percent of it is even a wall. The rest of the space is a fence that helps cease firearms and protect both Israelis and Palestinians.

Nirit Revzin, president of Aztecs for Israel, believes that although the divestment resolution does not directly mention Jewish students or pro-Israel students, focusing and singling out Israel, as a state, is deeply offensive and damaging to many students on campus.

“AFI is a student organization that celebrates Israeli culture and also promotes peace through a ‘two states for two peoples’ solution,” Revzin said.

Revzin has reached out to SJP to stand up and make SDSU a historically united campus. Even though she was disregarded, she still believes it could happen one day with mutual understanding.

 

What Aztecs should do:

Whether you approve or disapprove of the divestment, awareness is key. A portion of our tuition is going to the companies involved with this issue, making it every Aztec’s issue.

I understand Zionism and that having a Jewish state is important to Jewish people everywhere. The persecution of Jews throughout thousands of years of history has lead them to desire a Zionist state where they can feel safe and at home.

I also understand the Palestinians. There is so much deeply-rooted culture, and many Palestinians have family, ancestors and cultural history in what is now recognized by the U.N. as Israel.

To put in a context that Americans can understand, some Palestinians relate the taking of their land as many Native Americans feel toward white settlers in the days of colonization of North America.

There is so much conflict because both sides feel the territory is their rightful home. Even though many years have gone by, the tension has not only intensified but has become violent.

On both sides there have been deaths of innocent Palestinians and Israelis. The U.S. has adamantly stayed pro-Israel. Lebanon, Syria and various South African apartheid activists support Palestine.

All that aside, even though divestment focuses on the separation of businesses the issue is deeper than financial support. To come to a resolution for the divestment, the two groups need to dig up the layers and distinguish a solution to the issue.

As American people, I find it very odd that we choose to focus on only these two particular countries. It seems as if we, at times, have a blind eye to some issues and only pay attention when it’s either going to make us gain or lose profit. Taiwan and China are known to not get along, yet I cannot recall any Americans who have called for the divestment of either country.

If we are going to pay attention to divestment from one country, we should pay attention to other countries we need to divest from as well.

Regardless of the outcome in Israel, we need to come together and decide what is right for our nation and other nations around the world.

 

Photo courtesy of Facebook.