With members of the University community still divided over the issue of divestment, pro-Israeli groups continue to warn that divestment will not resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A campaign to remove economic interests from the region will affect Israelis and Palestinians, Michigan Student Zionists President Adi Neuman said.
“Palestinians would suffer just as much as Israelis from divestment because the Palestinian economy is to a certain extent dependent on jobs in Israel,” Neuman said.
The ensuing political problems of divestment could also be severe for the Middle East’s only democratic nation, Israel Michigan Public Affairs Committee co-chair and LSA sophomore Rachel Roth said, adding that divestment is backward step for the entire region.
“Divestment is an attempt to destroy the right to self-determination of the Jewish people. Singling out Israel, a democratic country striving for the highest level of human rights and civil liberties attainable, for divestment and destruction is confused at best and hateful at worst,” Roth said.
With many divestment advocates preparing for the Second National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement, Neuman said he is concerned about a resurgence of anti-Semitism.
“Campuses across the country have become breeding grounds for anti-Semites and terrorist sympathizers,” Neuman said. “Pro-Palestinian groups are doing everything they can to weaken Israel – including using lies and deception to incite anti-Semitic violence.” Words like “Apartheid” and “oppression” are incorrect in describing Palestinians’ lives in Israel, he added.
These words are part of anti-Israel rhetoric to confuse people about the situation, Hillel governing board chairman Eric Bukstein said.
“The anti-Israel rhetoric uses cheap tactics of half truth and lies. We have to see what’s really going on – which is a war on terrorism. The discourse needs to be about peace, democracy and terrorism in the region and how we defend Israel. Those are the issues,” Bukstein said. “Anti-Israel supporters spew forth rhetoric supporting terrorism. This is scary on many levels. They’re spewing forth a lot of hate and they’re trying to disguise it as part of the constructive discourse.”
There are more effective ways to solve the problems in the Middle East without creating an economic crisis, Bukstein said.
“A lot of … Israel’s detractors want a Palestinian state and another Palestinian state. There’s one clear obvious solution to this conflict and that’s peaceful coexistence with two people in two states living next to each other.” Bukstein said.
“Israel has made incredible strides to make peace with the Palestinians and they have been met with violence and an ongoing commitment to terror,” Bukstein said.
“Israel is willing to make tremendous sacrifices to have another democracy in the Middle East. … Israelis are quite literally dying to have peace with the Palestinians. Until we’re able to discuss peace, democracy and coexistence, there’s not going to be any progress,” he added.
Neuman said the idea of divestment becoming a large-scale movement is highly unlikely.
“I don’t believe divestment is going to happen because it is essentially a red herring – intended to distract people from the real problem – which is Palestinian terrorism and the Islamic extremism and Arab media incitement which are its root causes,” Neuman said.
Bukstein also said he thought the movement would not be effective based on what he feels are its true motives – to hurt the nation of Israel in as many ways as it can.
“I think it’s not a campaign of peace and justice,” Bukstein said.
“It’s a campaign trying to delegitimize Israel. At its base are principles that call for the destruction of Israel.”
“Once this war stops, Israel will jump to negotiate peace, as it has every time that this has occurred in the past,” Roth said.