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Missing the Point On Divestment

The petition opposing divestment in Israel does not “justify Israeli military actions” as The Tech claims [“A Flawed Argument for Divestment,” May 14]. In fact, it clearly states that “We have diverse opinions on how peace in the Middle East can be achieved, and widely differing views of the current government's policies.” I am also confused as to why The Tech sees the counter-petition as “placing too much blame on the Palestinians.” The counter-petition states that “To place blame solely on Israel [...] is unjust” [my emphasis]. The editorial seems to agree with this statement, pointing out that “a full view of the situation shows misdeeds on both sides.”

The Tech criticizes the counter-petition for not offering an “even-handed alternative.” The counter-petition intentionally refrains from offering a specific view about the situation in Israel/Palestine, so that it can be supported by all those who see the major flaws and extreme counter-productivity of the divestment petition, and of divesting from all companies doing business in Israel (as the divestment petition calls for). Expression of alternate views concerning the situation is welcome, but this is not the point of the counter-petition.

Disappointingly, the editorial avoids this core issue. As pointed out in the dissent, it is not sufficient to reject the divestment campaign simply because it will inconvenience MIT, or because its chances of appealing to MIT decision-makers are low. The campaign should be rejected because suffocation of Israel’s economy -- which is the purpose of divestment -- and the resulting hardship to its people, would only increase desperation and reduce the willingness to compromise. (Of course, the tightly-linked Palestinian economy would suffer just as badly.) Much in the same way, although one might criticize U.S. policies on many issues, both foreign and domestic, and even find the U.S. in violation of moral principles and international resolutions and conventions, it does not seem that across-the-board divestment from the American economy would be a productive way to go about changing these policies.

International pressure to work hard at resolving the conflict and ending violence has the potential to benefit all the people in the region by restoring peace and prosperity. Money can certainly be a major tool in such international involvement. Smart and targeted use of this tool, such as carefully regulating funding, and, more importantly, providing funding, can have very desirable effects. But an indiscriminate depression of the economy and the people who depend on it cannot aid in any way.

There are still many Israelis, and hopefully also Palestinians, who believe the peace process can be restored. Please help those who strive for peace by supporting the region, rather then divesting from it and thereby encouraging those who see the whole world as their enemy.

Nathan Srebro G