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Divestment event at Union

22. November 2004 • Matt Hollerbach
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The following e-mail is being circulated by the controversial student organization SAFE. The event is sure to raise some eyebrows (and emotions)...



ROOM 2105A
TUES., NOV. 23 – 8PM.


sponsored by SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality)








  1. Not likely to happen . . . .
       —Jared Goldberg    Nov. 22 '04 - 11:25PM    #
  2. When will these people stop trying to address the issue of the Israel-Palestinian problem by attacking aspects of the only democracy in the middle east. Instead they could be working to improve conditions for Palestinians, or improving their schools, or a million other things. But hey, maybe these folks are just like the Arab leaders during the 48-72, talk alot about helping out the Palestinians, but really its only lip service while they work on their real goal, destroying the state of Israel.
       —Just a Voice    Nov. 23 '04 - 11:12AM    #
  3. I am not champion of divestment – but using the term “democracy” to defend Israel is a bit overmuch.

    Israel is a state that grants special privilege based on religion surrounded by other countries that grant special privilege based on religion.

    There are a lot of great things about Israel that cannot be denied, but a lot of shitty ones that are denied too often. Zionists’ blind and fundamentalist support of Israel is just as harmful as radical Islamists blind and fundamentalist support of Jihad. But Israel has the money – and that is what divestment is about.
       —MWH    Nov. 23 '04 - 12:22PM    #
  4. Matt-

    There is a HUGE difference between granting certain priveliges to a religious group and discrimination based on religious affiliation…

    Arab citizens of Israel all have the same rights as Israelies (maybe not all of the priveliges, but that’s another matter), while Jewish “citizens” of Arab countries are lucky to even be alive.

    Divestment is just stupid; it is the old “Arafatian” way of dealing with Israel – it certainly cannot be destroyed militarily, so politically and financially are the only hopes radical (but authorotarian) Palestinians have to “push Jews into the sea”.

    I second JAV’s opinions – there are more constructive ways to go about addressing this issue, yet SAFE again choose the destructive route.
       —BJS    Nov. 23 '04 - 01:39PM    #
  5. I do not deny that divestment is not the solution (especially divestment as typically realized by the current Palestinian solidarity movement). I happen to think it can be a small part of the solution – but it is extremely shortsighted in its goals.

    I believe that the fundamental problem lies in the perversion of faith by organized religion.

    But I am curious… what are constructive ways to deal with the problem? I am asking honestly as nobody (from either ‘side’) I have ever talked to seems to have an answer that isn’t chock full of religious/ethnic bias and a complete ignorance of recent history.
       —MWH    Nov. 23 '04 - 01:53PM    #
  6. Well, you have to look at it this way – as a Jewish Zionist, there is nothing I can say to you that won’t be considered biased.

    Nonetheless, hear me out.

    I truly hope that after Arafat’s death, a new and moderate Palestinian leadership can emerge. Regardless whether you think the 2000 camp Davd offer was “generous” or not, the truth of the matter is that it was nearly everything Arafat had asked for – and yet it was declined. Had there been a more moderate leadership back in 2000, the Palestinians would not only have their own state but would be in the process of negotiating with Israel for transfer of more land – it is the exact same scenario as in 1948, when the land was suggested for partition. The Jews certainly didn’t get everything they wanted, yet they accepted…the Palestinians, obviously, did not.

    Where does that leave us now? Well, I find it interesting that despite Israel’s planned withdrawal from the territories, pro-Palestinian groups are spinning it as a “bad” thing – there is a reason for that. It is because they know once they are left to govern themselves post Arafat, their lawless, crooked and thieving leadership will be exposed and it can no longer be Israel’s problem.

    I’m not so sure the Palestinians, no matter how moderate, would want to negotiate with Sharon simply because of what he represents to them, so my opinion is that the next round of peace talks will come after his exit from the political scene.

    In the meantime, however, what is CONSTRUCTIVE that can be done on the campus Palestinian end? An overall admission that Arafat was a huge problem, and a campus effort to help organize money and funds to be sent to the Palestinians…NOT to Hamas, but to the Palestinian children whose lives have been adversely affected by Israeli occupation. That would be constructive. How about SAFE take a step in the right direction and work on striking the clause from their PSM charter that states
    they have no right to dictate whether terrorism is right or wrong in resistance of Israelis…..those are two pretty good steps.

    The difference at U of M is that there are plenty of pro-Palestinan Jews on campus, in the sense that Jews and want the Palestinians to succeed…whereas there are no “Pro-palestinian” Arabs/Palestinians on campus, rather “Anti-Israel” ones. That, fundamentally, is the problem.
       —BJS    Nov. 23 '04 - 02:20PM    #
  7. again – you’ll think i’m biased but hear me out.

    1) I think the Palestinian leadership needs to take a stand and say that terrorism is not tolerated. This will be very hard for them, and Israel must respond to this with a string of CBMs.

    The bottom line – if the Palestian leadership undertakes to stop terrorism by a) condeming it (no justifications whats so ever) b) taking steps to confront these organizations and c) stoping the incitementon in their media, Israel should in turn a) remove the road blocks, b) release funds, and c) release some prisoners.

    2) The international community (in particular the UN and EU) need to abide by International Law as it is, not as they would like to make it. This is a bit controversial – but the general idea is that a lot of the issues are outstanding are purely political decisions – adn the UN/EU has killed hte ability for them to be resolved by legalizing them b/c the “think” int’l law shoudl cover them.

    So one example is a right of return. Under both Law of War, and any applicable international law (that is hard law, not normative recomendations like the UNDHR) there is no “right” of return. The closest we come to is UNGA 194 which outlines five potential solutions. However, by consitently refering to it as a right, its has made this an impossible thing to compormise on (see any of Fadi’s op/eds). This is an area wher the international community could help – by carefuly and conservativly applying international law. Pressure wouold wind up being placed on both sides – and this would lead to compromise.

    3) Undercut Hamas. To the extent that money is given to the PA by EU/IMF/WB – it should be carefuly and specifically tailored to social services – and in a way that thse services COULD not be used by terrorist organiztions. Basically, the IMF/WB would have to impose the same criteria here, that they have recently began to do in the Environmental context.

    I think a combination of these three things would allow both sides to return to the table.
       —David LIvshiz    Nov. 23 '04 - 05:07PM    #
  8. livshizzle,
    has israel or the usa signed on the undhr???

    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Nov. 23 '04 - 05:32PM    #
  9. Ari – its actually a trick question. they both have, but there is a but load of reservations for both – so i am not clear what would and would not apply. Moroever, UNDHR is a document that is soft law – its supposed to be a recomendation, not a RULE.

    this is why i think its so dnagerous to focus on it, b/c there is a role that UNDHR can play via recomendations. but when people start holding it up as a rule documetns – it becomes harder to get new normative docs through.

       —David LIvshiz    Nov. 23 '04 - 05:37PM    #
  10. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
    -U.S. Constitution, Article 6, Paragraph 2.

    so why, then, if the u.s. has, indeed, signed on, then it not be the ‘supreme law of the land’ (a mere recommendation, as you call it) by virtue of the constitution???

    thomas jefferson is my co-pilot,
    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Nov. 23 '04 - 05:42PM    #
  11. Ari – its a quesiton of international law. When a country signs on – it can do so by saying i sign on to article 2, 3, 5 and 6, but not 1 and four – that is called a reservations.

    we generally use them to place reservations so as to protect the first amendment (a lot of these agreemetns make speech illegal) and death penalty, etc.

    moreover, the UNDHR is not a LAW, thats what i keep saying – read it – its say “we hereby recomend…..”
       —David LIvshiz    Nov. 23 '04 - 05:48PM    #
  12. yeah but the clause of the constitution says any treaty…isn’t law embedded throughout the acts of an international legislative body???

    human rights are so passe,
    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Nov. 23 '04 - 05:58PM    #
  13. “The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”
    -U.N. Resolution 194

    is this not a law either???

    ari p.
       —Ari P.    Nov. 23 '04 - 06:08PM    #
  14. ari – in regards to post 12. the answer is no. not all treaties have the same effect. I am alsmot positive that teh UNDHR was not sent to Senate for ratification and therefore would not count as a treaty in US law. Morever, even if it was – ther eare open questions about whehter or not it is self executing, and whether a treaty can trump a law of the United States. None of these questions have been resolved, which is why generally when we sign on to treaties, we also seperatly CHANGE existing law to comply – i can’t find anythikng to indicate we did that with the UNDHR.

    Second, even if it was a treaty, and became “supreme law” it would still retain its staus as a recomendation/normative document, not a legislative one. therefore, there are no “obligations” in fact that is what Herst Lauterpach, probably the greaest lawyer of the day objected to it.

    re 13: the key word is practicable – which is left for israel to determine, or at the least hte parties together. in any case – it does not provide for individual rights, but at best just gives the countires recomends, as the status of any GA resolution is one of recomendation.
       —David LIvshiz    Nov. 23 '04 - 09:21PM    #
  15. You guys sure know how to liven up a party…
       —BJS    Nov. 24 '04 - 11:57AM    #
  16. “and whether a treaty can trump a law of the United States.” -livshizzle

    its not about trumping…international laws that the u.s. ratifies are in effect consitutioanl u.s. law by extension, by virture of the good ole constitution…

    -ari p.
       —Ari P.    Nov. 24 '04 - 08:49PM    #
  17. Ari Paul for Prime Minister of Israel. Mazel tov

    ...or was that President of the United States? If he lives long enough, maybe he can be both
       —David Boyle    Nov. 24 '04 - 10:11PM    #
  18. Hey, at least everyone isn’t attacking everyone else! Congratulations!

    As for divestment:

    I’ve never been a fan of the strategy when it’s been applied towards Israel. I hate to make this comparison, but one of the reasons divestment against South Africa was pursued/was successful was because apartheid was largely economically based. White corporations in South Africa used apartheid to guarantee near-slave labor from the largely black workforce.

    I have yet to see such an economic motive on behalf Israel for the occupation. As such, an economic boycott of Israeli companies that don’t participate in the occupation wouldn’t do much, if at all.

    I agree with BJS: there is a difference between granting certain priveliges to a religious group and discrimination based on religious affiliation.

    Israel does grant equal rights to Jew and non-Jew alike. Now, issues of discrimination against the Arab population are sometimes very prevalent. There is a difference between the two, and discrimination, especially in the avenues in employment, land allocation, etc., are seen in Israeli society, even if there isn’t necessarily de jure discrimination (in the law).

    Matt, though, hits it right on the head when talking about surrounding states. All of the countries surrounding Israel have laws against Jews that would give both apartheid South Africa, Jim Crow southern US, and even Nazi Germany in some cases, a means for comparison. Israel and these countries, however, are not the same in that respect.

    But there is something also to remember: not all Zionists are the right-wing nutjob settlers on PBS. There are many Zionist groups on the left promoting an end to the occupation and a more progressive viewpoint. Groups like Hashomer Hatzair, Labor Zionist Alliance, Union of Progressive Zionists, etc. To stigmatize all Zionists would not be entirely correct.
       —Jared Goldberg    Nov. 25 '04 - 11:01PM    #