Letter to the Editor | Vote “no” to divestment

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By Rick Hallman

The University Divest referendum has once again reared its ugly head on our campus, and as an Engineering student, I am compelled to speak out against it. This measure, if successful, would cut off financial ties between our University and companies that do business with Israel.

The implications would be far reaching and particularly destructive to students looking to work with companies in the Jewish state. For instance, over the course of two summers I interned at Northrop Grumman—a defense contractor who does business in Israel, among other countries. Our division worked on IRCM systems, which use infrared beams to deflect heat-seeking missile attacks. Not only was this invaluable work experience, but I truly felt that I was making a positive impact on the world around me.

However, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement asserts that, by helping defend schools, hospitals and shopping centers, I was complicit in human rights violations. I am not a spokesman for Northrop Grumman, but I can confidently say that our commitment to defending human life was unparalleled.

We must listen to common sense. Israel’s track record on human rights is undeniably better than its Middle Eastern neighbors’, and if we held other countries to the same standards BDS holds Israel, the University would have very few trading partners left.

If passed, the referendum would invariably hurt the job prospects of some 30,000 Illini students. Why would companies like Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar and Boeing want to hire Illini if this campus calls to divest from them? To be clear, there is room for reasonable debate about the Netanyahu regime and its policies, but the BDS’s scorched-Earth tactics are divisive and harmful to all students. I strongly urge you to vote “no” on Divestment in our upcoming student elections.

Rick is a senior in Engineering. 

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