Israel in the divestment crosshairs

Jake Davidson


It seems that around this time every year, the clamor from college campuses to divest from Israel grows stronger and stronger.

Recently a proposal at Stanford University was made to divest “from companies that are profiting from human rights violations associated with Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land.” While the Stanford Senate rejected the bill, this is representative of a larger trend that has pervaded multiple campuses like UC Irvine which approved a similar proposition.

This rising tide of rancor and animosity continues to elevate to dangerous levels, as the vitriol spewed cuts deeper and deeper into the state of Israel.  Even if the majority of this rhetoric is quelled by rational thinking, the growing faction of those calling for divestment and boycotts serves to destabilize the already tenuous position that Israel holds in the eyes of the world. Most of these cries for divestment and sanctions stem from the misguided notion that Israel is an apartheid state.

To me, this proposition is ludicrous, and that is why the strident, unrelenting criticism of Israel bothers me to such a great degree. Israel is by no means a perfect country. Constructive criticism is a viable option for improving the flaws within the country. However, baseless allegations like the “apartheid state” accusation only delegitimizes Israel while hurting all parties involved.

To compare Israel’s government to that of the South African regime that governed in the late 20th century is ignorant and factually incorrect.  While there are a bevy of facts available, only two salient points are needed to debunk this illogical comparison.

First, the apartheid social order that existed in South Africa meant complete segregation of the majority blacks and minority whites with the ruling minority receiving preferential treatment.  This does not exist in Israel.  Approximately 21% of Israeli citizens are Arab, by which is nowhere near a majority.  All Israeli citizens, regardless of religion, have the right to vote. They have a right to an education as they are afforded with the same opportunity to study in Israeli universities. The list of equal rights continues for pages.

The image of mistreatment and denigration arises from a policy of the Palestinian Authority.  Those who identify with the Palestinian Authority renounce their right to Israeli citizenship of their own volition. In what world would a country provide equal treatment to those who scoff at citizenship? To summarize, all Arabs have the opportunity for citizenship, which would provide them the same exact privileges as Israeli Jews. With all of this in mind, I cannot draw a single parallel between Israel and a supposed apartheid state.

Second, to argue that the restrictions Israel puts in place are purposely racist is to believe that a malicious Knesset governs Israel. I cannot reconcile this idea of a spiteful and wicked government, with the image of Israel as the first responder to the victims of Haiti. I cannot reconcile this idea of a mean-spirited government, with the image of a country that invests heavily in defensive weaponry like the Iron Dome, instead of employing their extensive arsenal in an aggressive manner when they are attacked. To believe that Israel is rotten at its core is to ignore an abundance of evidence that testifies to the munificent characteristics of the country.

Furthermore, the safeguards that Israel puts in place are security precautions. Ideally, Israel wouldn’t have to implement a wall that separates Israel from the West Bank. In a perfect world, Israel would not have to subject themselves to worldwide condemnation by creating voluntary separate bus lines for Arabs and Jews. However, this utopia does not match with the real world, a world filled with cold harsh truths. In the real world, the dividing wall is necessary to prevent bombs, rockets, and suicide bombers from entering Israel. Bus bombings are so commonplace that the institution of a segregated bus line is a necessary evil in order to ensure a certain degree of safety for Israeli citizens.

Presented with these facts it seems clear to me that Israel by no means is an apartheid state. It is a country that exists in the worst neighborhood in the world. It is a country that does everything in its power to ensure the security of its citizens. So when I hear the calls to divest from Israel, I can only help but be befuddled by the inanity of such a suggestion.

Those who call for this action based on “moral” grounds should consider the long-term implications of such a stance. A large-scale divestment in Israeli products could cause irreparable damage to the economic condition of the country. This ultimately would affect the aid that the citizens of Gaza receive from Israel. To call for leniency with Israel’s security procedures is to possibly call for the destruction of the Jewish state.

So for those who call for these actions on “moral” grounds should decide how moral will it be when Israeli citizens are engulfed and slaughtered by the hatred that exists in the surrounding countries?  Is that the morality that such a large majority of kids on college campuses are searching for? I sure hope not, because that does not foreshadow a positive future for the state of Israel.