Divesment from Israel justified, ‘the logical course of action’

To the Daily:

Is there the least bit of irony in Sol Adelsky’s reference to Avraham Burg’s reprimand of Israel as “proof of Israel’s democracy” (Divestment from Israel not a productive step toward peace in the Middle East, 10/27/03)? In Burg’s quote, he lambastes Israel’s inability to be a democracy due to its decades-long military occupation over millions of Palestinians.

Let us, for the sake of cutting through Adelsky’s logic, apply it to the last successful divestment campaign against South African apartheid, also opposed then, incidentally, by staunch supporters of Israel. In so doing, Adelsky’s letter against divestment would look something like this, “It is disturbing to see that students on campus continue to employ deceptive tactics and arguments in pursuit of the impractical, divisive and hateful goal of divesting from South African apartheid. If they wanted to discuss the conflict, they would comprehensively analyze the overwhelmingly complex and deep-rooted problem in South Africa instead of conjuring up a simplistic solution based on false or misleading facts. Do they support peace or do they support divestment – which would effectively strip the South African military of the ability to defend itself against countless terrorist attacks by the African National Congress and cause more South Africans to lose their jobs, not to mention a plethora of other effects that would in no way conceivably lead to peace?”

It would continue, “That any white South African can criticize that government without fear of persecution is proof of South Africa’s vibrant democracy.” Certainly, this one fact did not qualify that government as a democracy, overshadowing its military rule over black South Africans … the same line of reasoning that Burg puts forth criticizing Israel’s undemocratic rule over indigenous Palestinians.

Finally, the South African anti-apartheid divestment’s success in paving the way for reconciliation and peace attests to such a campaign’s potential effectiveness. The moral equivalence of Israel’s rule over the Palestinians to South African apartheid is not in question, as those South Africans that lived under that structure have repeatedly noted the structural similarity. Moreover, under the United Nations 1973 convention, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians legally fits the label of apartheid. Thus, divestment would seem to be the logical course of action to take.

Ahmad Elkhatib



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