Student leaders on campus will be hosting a conference this week calling for the University to end its economic investments in Israel, a request which the University says it will not fulfill.

For supporters of divestment, like LSA senior and Students Allied for Freedom and Equality member Eric Reichenberger, divestment is an issue of ethics that will end the suppression of Palestinian rights in Israel, specifically in the occupied territories.

“Divestment is a movement based on moral concerns arising from the oppression of the Palestinian people at the hands of the State of Israel,” Reichenberger said.

“It is the only way effective pressure can be placed on the Israeli government to convince it to discontinue its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” he added.

The University only has a small percentage of its investments in companies tied to Israel, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said.

“Out of our $3.4 billion investment portfolio, we have stock in only two companies directly located in Israel with a value of about $500,000. It is impossible for the University to report investments in all companies that may have business in Israel or some other indirect connection,” Peterson said.

Yulia Dernovsky, an opponent of divestment and member of the American Movement for Israel, said the movement to withdraw University investment in the region is harmful to Israel’s development.

“It is in the interest of the University to stand against divestment because divestment is directed against the only democratic state in the Middle East,” Dernovsky said.

While many students are divided over the issue of the University’s economic involvement in the region, University President Mary Sue Coleman said in an e-mail to the University community last month that the administration has no intention of divesting from its economic interests in Israel.

“As a matter of University policy, we do not believe political interests should govern our investment decisions,” Coleman wrote.

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