Divestment compromises academic integrity

by Anthony Berteaux, Assistant Opinion Editor

I used to believe in divestment.

Like many students who are allured by the social justice narrative of divestment, I believed that San Diego State divesting from companies invested in Israel’s military defense technology would help bring justice to the Palestinians.

But I realized that divestment would not achieve this.

After extensively researching the complicated and complex nature of the conflict, and speaking to various Israelis and Palestinians in Israel this past winter break on a sponsored trip, I found that I believe that the divestment campaign provides a dishonest, disingenuous and duplicitous perspective on the complicated history that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I believe that the divestment campaign provides a dishonest, disingenuous and duplicitous perspective on the complicated history that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

It blatantly appropriates the Palestinian narrative to simplify a conflict that is unfathomably complicated. To fully understand it, as educated students, we need to take all perspectives into account.

While SJP’s intentions may lie in the right place, the completely one-sided nature of its narrative about the conflict by holding only Israel responsible for the tragedies of war, is disingenuous.

This conflict is a result of the failure of authority on both sides. We must acknowledge that while Israeli policy is imperfect, the Palestinian government and Hamas, authorities for the Palestinians in their respective territories, have not been there for their people as a peace partner with Israel.

Since 2001, Hamas, a terrorist organization which holds control over the Gaza strip, has shot more than 15,200 rockets, an average of three per day, into Israel. The Palestinian president holds no control over these radicals, and instead misuses international aid to further corruption and distance the Palestinians from a democracy that seeks to better their lives.

Furthermore, the usage of human shields, the placement of bombs under schools and hospitals and instant execution of anyone who questions Hamas rule, has made this situation dire for the Palestinians.

At the end of the day, it’s the Palestinians that suffer the most, not from Israel, but often from their own authority.

In contrast, it was Israel that had offered humanitarian aid to suffering Gazans. Over the course of a month, the Israeli Defense Force transferred into Gaza 1,856 trucks carrying 40,550 tons worth of humanitarian aid, consisting of food, medical aid and supplies. The IDF also set up a field hospital on the Gaza border to treat wounded Palestinians from the Gaza strip while setting up infrastructure repairs to water supplies, electricity and communication lines.

However, at the same time, two IDF soldiers can be charged for using a 9-year-old Palestinian human shield.

While Hamas places explosives under civilian homes and the IDF brings in humanitarian aid, two IDF soldiers can commit the same war crimes that their enemies do.

However, by divesting, we are refusing to learn about the even more nuanced perspectives of the conflict on both sides. As students who strive to be educated and open-minded, divesting is not the answer.

When we divest, we silence those Palestinians who believe that their authority has failed them; we silence those nuanced perspectives who disprove the Palestinian narrative that the divestment campaign promotes.

Bassam Eid, founder of Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, said that the tragedies of the conflict is a burden held by both Israeli authority and Palestinian authority.

“The anti-semitism promoted by Hamas, Fatah, and the BDS (divestment) movement is not the answer for us Palestinians,” he said in a Times of Israel blog post. “The answer is to live in peace and democracy, side by side with Israel. We missed many opportunities to do that.”

This sentiment was echoed by a Palestinian student I had met in Israel, it’s the wish of many Palestinians. A wish for peace and co-existence.

What the divestment campaign actually does is disregard this Palestinian and Israeli wish for a peaceful two-state solution. Instead of confronting the many dimensions and nuances of the geopolitical conflict in which two people wish to co-exist within the land of Israel, it distances us away from this dream.

This disproportionate criticism of Israeli policy exists because divestment isn’t pro-Palestinian by any means. It seeks to only be anti-Israel.

Whether SJP wanted it to or not, this divestment movement that has allowed for a wave of hate, anti-Semitism and intimidation to take our college campuses.

Most recently, on Jan. 29, a divestment resolution passed the student senate at the University of California, Davis. A mere two days after, the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and the Hillel House at UC Davis were soon desecrated with anti-Semitic graffiti, including swastikas and scribbling to “grout out the Jews.” These events aren’t mutually exclusive.

Julia Reifkind, the president of the UC Davis pro-Israel group, has said that campus climate has grown increasingly hostile and intolerant since divestment passed the student senate.

“Campus climate has definitely shifted as of lately,” said Reifkind. ” The resolution is inherently divisive and is causing many students to feel marginalized on campus. Divestment never has been, and never will be, a productive path toward peace whether that is in the Middle East, or on our campus.”

I’m not expecting to change anyone’s mind about the conflict. SJP has made its mind about divestment and has agreed to further push the Palestinians and our school away from peaceful resolutions in the Middle East, and college campuses, through the dishonest divestment campaign.

Who I’m trying to speak to is you, SDSU student.

You’re the one who hasn’t made up your mind about divestment yet. You’re the one who can make a difference and stand up against hatred. As SDSU students, and global citizens of the world, we have to stand up against divestment, not just for Jewish students on campus, but for Palestinians also.

We all have a choice to do what is just. We have a choice, right here and now, to end misinformation and hate.

I choose education, co-existence and peace.

What are you going to choose?