Op-Ed: Divestment further divides

Thursday, November 9, 2017 - 10:00am

Throughout 2017, our University has experienced its own campus climate issues within a broader national context of deep divisions. Within this framework, we have to continue addressing our divisions by adhering to the values promoted within the University of Michigan’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plan’s goal to ensure “all campus community members are welcomed and supported.” We know many students have felt and continue to feel targeted and, with this in mind, we must seek more constructive ways to unite as one student body and support each other on campus. 

Right now, the current divestment resolution against Israel presented to Central Student Government runs counter to the goals mentioned above. We, as students, support the safety and security of both Palestinians and Israelis alike. However, CSG must know that this resolution does not represent us, and, moreover, it does not support the values of our University community.

The resolution sets a double standard by singling out Israel, spreading misinformation and reinforcing negative stereotypes in our University community. It demonizes Israel and calls for divesting from companies that provide for its much-needed security. This resolution assigns absolute blame to only one side of a complicated conflict. Both the Palestinian and Israeli narratives have value — yet only one is presented in this resolution. Movements such as #UMDivest and the global Boycott, Divestment Sanctions movement are counterproductive and drive both parties, on campus and in the region, further away from one another and from a possible solution. To pass a resolution like this one would widen the division between students and drive a deep wedge in our campus.

In order for the University to pursue divestment from any corporations or issues, a “broadly and consistently held position of the campus community over time” must be proved. Similar divestment resolutions have been brought forward to CSG and failed consistently — 11 times since 2002 — demonstrating that this is not a consistently held position over time. Moreover, thousands of students every year sign a petition against these resolutions, indicating a lack of consensus on divestment. 

It is our duty and desire to be a force of change working toward peace and coexistence, but that can only be achieved through constructive dialogue, mutual understanding and the recognition of the rights of all people. We feel that this divestment resolution does not grant us the opportunity to reach these goals; it only serves to further the division and polarization on our campus.

This year, students will again have the opportunity to voice their opposition by signing this petition, presented by these signatories. We know that CSG will uphold its commitment and responsibility to all students by listening to different narratives, acknowledging the pain of multiple communities and providing a space for various positions on this resolution to be presented. The diversity of opinions on this divestment resolution, as indicated by the hundreds of students showing up for and against the resolution and the countless students who have signed similar petitions in the past, further proves that there is no broad consensus on this campus for divestment to be pursued.

We encourage CSG to reject this one-sided resolution and focus its efforts on uniting our campus community in more constructive ways.

Nicole Feder is a Business sophomore.

Brie Riley is a Business sophomore.

Jordan Stark is an LSA Sophomore.

Alex Harris is an LSA sophomore.

Dalia Gatoff is an LSA sophomore.

Rebecca Portman is an LSA sophomore.

Alexander Kasdan is an LSA sophomore.

Natan Gorod is an LSA senior.

Elana Rosenthal is an LSA senior.

Rebecca Lubow is an LSA sophomore.

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