Thursday, March 26, 2009

SPME PRESS RELEASE CALLS FOR HALT TO FALSE ASSERTIONS

March 26, 2009

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, representing 27,000 academics from 2000 colleges and universities in North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, calls for a halt to false assertions that Hampshire College has divested from Israel. Recently the CUNY (City University of New York) Graduate Center Advocate published an article titled "Hampshire College and the Politics of Divestment." It asserts that Hampshire made a "significant change in its investment policy, which supports" claims of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), "a Hampshire-based social justice group," that Hampshire divested "its holdings in several companies that do business with the Israeli military." The article announces that the Campus Antiwar Network at CUNY will hold a Student Divestment Strategy Day on March 29 in the hope that CUNY can emulate Hampshire.

In fact, the Hampshire board reviewed its investments only on the basis of potential violations of the College’s general investment policy. The review showed that some 200 companies in the State Street mutual fund, through which Hampshire had made those investments, were not adhering to the college’s guidelines. Hampshire College consequently removed State Street from its management portfolio. In the process, some of the stocks that were on the SJP list were dropped, others were not. Hampshire did not touch any other investments, including those in Israeli companies. On this flimsy basis, on February 7, the SJP issued its press release announcing that Hampshire had become the first college in the United States to divest from Israel.

The Hampshire administration was suddenly awash in unwanted publicity -- both praise from Israel's enemies and denunciations from friends. The College issued a series of increasingly detailed statements affirming that it had not divested from Israel and that its investment decisions had nothing to do with Israeli policies. Meanwhile, many other colleges and universities found themselves dealing with divestment and boycott campaigns claiming to build on the Hampshire “foundation.”

SPME seeks to refute the false claims about Hampshire, as well as false claims about Israel that are used as a rationale for campus boycott and divestment campaigns. SPME urges the academic community and the public to recognize the real purpose of those campaigns -- to delegitimize Israel, to distract our attention from other aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and to make achieving peace and reconciliation more, rather than less, difficult.

Contact: Samuel M. Edelman, Ph.D. Executive Director, SPME 530-570-8137 cell and office sedelman@csuchico.edu www.spme.net

1 comment:

Jon said...

For anyone interested in the details behind the Hampshire divestment issue, details can be found here:

http://www.divestthis.com/2009/03/hampshire.html