Letter to the Editor: Divestment referendum targets Israel

By Madeleine Hubbard

Many of you may have been approached by someone asking you to sign a petition supporting “human rights.” What these students neglect to say about the referendum is it singles out a specific country: Israel. In their six-page “Referendum Specified Companies” document, Israel is referenced 32 times, while some of the most infamous abusers of human rights are absent.

I want to spend my life working with nonprofit groups, and I know the divestment referendum does not properly deal with human rights.

If students leading the divestment initiative cared about human rights, they would have mentioned countries like Cuba, where I have visited and talked to people who were sent to forced labor camps for their religion. The referendum would have specified countries, like Sudan, Venezuela or Iran, which have horrific human rights abuse records. According to Freedom House, Israel has a score of 80/100 on human rights, which is extremely good, whereas Saudi Arabia scored 10. Yet, this referendum focuses on Israel.

Divestment is not the solution to problems in the Middle East, but instead, it divides the student body. Every country and every company has problems. For example, I don’t purchase Nestle products due to human rights issues. I don’t like the fact that every Israeli has to serve in the military. I also detest the extreme corruption in the Palestinian government. That being said, is the right way to advance human rights divesting from companies like Boeing, who sell planes to the U.S. government and our allies?

This divestment initiative targets Israel. If Trump’s travel ban is seen as racist and Islamophobic, how is this referendum not? The Jewish people have a right to self-determination, and this resolution chips away at the legitimacy of Israel, the only strong democracy in the Middle East.

Madeleine is a sophomore in Media. 

[email protected]