Why USG Cannot Support Resolution 27-04

A few weeks ago, Resolution 27-04 was introduced to the Undergraduate Student

Government (USG), calling upon Case Western Reserve University to “fully divest its assets from Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.” The resolution’s authors make a mistake here: they mean “illegal settlements” not “illegal occupation,” as Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is legal, but whether or not Israeli citizens may live in the West Bank in

“settlements” is controversial under international law. Besides these initial factual issues, there are four other reasons to not support Resolution 27-04.

The primary purpose of R27-04 is to call upon Case Western Reserve University to divest from Israeli companies in the West Bank. The first question we should ask is: do Palestinians in the West Bank support divestment? According to a 2015 poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC), only 7.6 percent of Palestinians support divestment from Israeli companies in the West Bank. This is likely due to these companies employing thousands of Palestinians, who, in turn, depend on these jobs for their livelihood. USG cannot support divestment if it hurts Palestinian workers, especially if Palestinians don’t themselves support it.

Most discussion of 27-04 has centered around logistics. When will we have forums on it? When will USG vote on it? But we have yet to discuss the actual content of the measure. In a rebuttal of 27-04, I wrote about numerous errors and factual inaccuracies burdening the resolution.  For example, the authors accuse Israel of apartheid, citing a 2017 report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA). This report was removed from the United Nations website shortly after publishing, and the Executive Secretary of UNESCWA, Rima Khalaf, was forced to resign due to the reports’ blatant inaccuracies and bias. This is just one example of many, and it would be embarrassing for an academic institution to pass such an erroneous piece of legislation. USG must oppose a resolution built on slander and lies.

Divestment from Israeli companies in the West Bank is just one step away from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement (BDS), which calls for a complete boycott of Israel. While R27-04 is not officially BDS, the Radical Student Union has repeatedly vocalized their support and handed out fliers last week promoting the movement to prospective students. Three of the authors cited in R27-04 signed a 2002 petition claiming Israel was secretly planning to expel the Palestinians during the Iraq War, a blatant lie. Another author promotes Ta’ayush, whose leader was filmed bragging about facilitating the torture and execution of Palestinians who sell their property to Jewish people. BDSers see Israel as a pervasive evil, supported by mainstream Jewish organizations, like Hillel International. Some go as far to claim brainwashing American Jews into blindly supporting Israel, as claimed in RSU’s recent film showing “Some of My Best Friends Are Zionists.” USG must oppose a resolution propagating the views of an extreme political movement hostile to mainstream Jewish institutions.

Israel faces an unprecedented torrent of lies and disproportionate condemnation. A 2007 BBC poll showed that people around the world view Israel the most negatively of any country, even more than North Korea and Iran. Every year, the media spreads lies about Israeli plots to sterilize immigrants, steal organs and target Palestinian children. Such slander echoes the tragic anti-Semitic blood libels of years past.

In reality, Israel is doing its best to promote peace and prosperity while protecting itself in a turbulent region. Every day, Israel sends hundreds of trucks filled with food and supplies into the Gaza Strip, despite the war with Hamas. In 2017, Israeli hospitals treated nearly 200,000 Palestinians.

Instead of presenting the facts of both sides, the authors spent months crafting a deceptive document that presents neither perspective, slandering the only Jewish state. This stifles dialogue and undermines the peace effort. It is regrettable that the authors, while passionate, were misguided in using divisive tactics to achieve their goals. The foundation of a university is academic freedom and open dialogue. Unwarranted accusations of personal prejudice, scare tactics, lies and academic boycotts strike at the very heart of our university’s purpose. Stand up for Case Western Reserve University, the truth, and those suffering from conflict by rejecting this corrosive and divisive resolution.