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presented is not neutral. Response: Investment in companies that profit from practices that violate human rights and international law is not neutral. That is today‟s reality, as Stanford‟s endowment subsidizes companies engaging in these sorts of practices. A „no‟ vote would directly support the continuation of these policies. The debate over whether a yes or no vote is more neutral, though, misses the point. One should not be neutral in the face of significant human rights abuses. Archbishop Desmond Tutu who struggled against Apartheid in South Africa once stated, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Claim: Selective divestment is not local; it is global. It is a global conspiracy to weaken and isolate Israel. SPER chose their companies because they are on BDS websites. Response: This bill specifically focuses on eight companies, chosen based on involvement in four types of activities that violate human rights and international law, and Stanford‟s relationship to them. It merely requests the Board of Trustees to review its investments to ensure it adheres to the principles laid out in the Stanford Statement on Investment Responsibility. It‟s interesting that Alon, who has never been to a SPER meeting, claims to have expertise on how SPER developed this campaign. The eight companies were chosen based on significant research conducted by Stanford students, faculty, and alumni and we would challenge those not supporting the bill to cite to a single other campaign or website that specifies these exact companies. You will not find it. Claim: Using Caterpillar bulldozers stops Hamas rocket fire and reduces the need to use military force on Palestinians. Response: This claim creates a false distinction between military force and the use of bulldozers. Bulldozers are among the tools used by Israel to maintain the illegal occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza. While Israel argues that home demolitions are necessary for security reasons, the majority of home demolitions have taken place in the West Bank, where Hamas rocket brigades are not present. Home demolitions often tear down entire complexes with little or no advanced warning, causing families to lose their homes and property. Some have also been crushed to death by the demolition itself. Bulldozers have destroyed over 27,000 Palestinian homes and displaced 160,000 people since 1967. Amnesty International “considers these punitive forced evictions and house demolitions as a flagrant form of collective punishment, a violation of a fundamental principle of international law. The Israeli authorities‟ claim that such demolitions are effective in dissuading potential attackers is entirely irrelevant in light of International humanitarian law, which places clear limits on the actions which an occupying power may take in the name of security, and the absolute prohibition on collective punishment is one of the most important of these rules.” Sources: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/033/2004/en/2193fae2-d5f6-11ddbb24-1fb85fe8fa05/mde150332004en.pdf http://www.icahd.org/the-facts
March 1, 2013 Claim: The separation barrier saved lives and reduced violence. The separation barrier is mostly a fence. Response: Israel has the right under international law to defend itself and construct a separation barrier on its side of the „Green Line‟, the recognized boundary between Israel and the West Bank, as the US has done on the Mexican border. However, 85% of the separation barrier is built in the West Bank and annexes nearly 10% of that territory, including its most fertile land and vital water resources. That would be the equivalent of the US annexing over 70,000 square miles from Mexico when it built its wall. The International Court of Justice, the world‟s highest legal body, in a 2004 opinion deemed the structure illegal, declaring it amounts to a de facto annexation that violated human rights, and called for it to be immediately dismantled. It further called on states not to recognize the structure, for Israel to pay reparations, and for the UN to take action to stop it. The structure is indeed mostly fence, but is four times as long as the Berlin Wall and, in some spots, rises to twice its height. Sources: http://www.btselem.org/download/201210_arrested_development_eng.pdf http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6 Claim: Cement Roadstone Holdings builds and dismantles checkpoints. There are only 12 checkpoints in the West Bank. Response: These statistics involve a clever redefinition of „checkpoint‟. According to the Israeli human rights group B‟Tselem, as of December 2012, there were 97 fixed checkpoints in the West Bank. This number does not include „flying‟ checkpoints, roadblocks, and other closure obstacles. The UN‟s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that Israel operated 450 closure obstacles in the West Bank in 2012. Cement Roadstone Holdings has played a key role in building checkpoints, but also in the construction and maintenance of the Separation Barrier. To say that Cement Roadstone Holding‟s role in dismantling checkpoints excuses its conduct in building them is the equivalent of saying that a gunman should be excused for shooting someone if s/he tends to that person‟s injuries after the fact. Sources: http://www.btselem.org/freedom_of_movement/checkpoints_and_forbidden_roads Claim: Administrative control over the West Bank is still in the hands of Israel and there has not been a solution to the issue; therefore, where Ahava operates in the West Bank is in Israeli territory. Response: All of the West Bank is considered to be occupied territory, including where Ahava operates. While the Oslo Accords specified temporary arrangements to be made until a final agreement was reached, it was not a final-status agreement, nor did it declare that the West Bank is no longer occupied. These settlements are thereby illegal under the 4th Geneva Convention, which states no occupying power can transport its citizens into occupied territory. Therefore, Ahava‟s extraction of minerals from the Dead Sea in the West Bank is illegal. Sources: http://www.btselem.org/sites/default/files/201105_dispossession_and_exploitation_eng. pdf http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/03/israel-accused-dead-sea-occupied
March 1, 2013 Claim: Motorola monitors both Palestinian and Israeli activity for security purposes and is stationed in „suburbs of Jerusalem‟ and the Jordan Valley. Response: Both the Jordan Valley and „suburbs of Jerusalem‟ (a euphemism for areas in East Jerusalem that Israel has annexed in violation of international law without providing Palestinian citizens there with citizenship rights) are located in the West Bank, which, as mentioned above, is illegally occupied. Motorola operates in Israeli-only settlements, illegal under international law. It also actively facilitates the monitoring of Palestinians living under military occupation- a very different dynamic that its policies towards the settlers it aspires to protect. Sources: http://www.whoprofits.org/company/motorola-solutions-israel Claim: Mekorot just does what the Israeli government tells them to do. Divesting from Mekorot won‟t do anything. Israel gives more water to Palestinians than agreed upon in the Oslo Accords. Response: Mekorot helps facilitate policies that violate human rights; while it is true that Israel carries out these policies, they rely on corporations like Mekorot to effectuate these policies and corporations are bound to adhere to binding law. While Israel is selling more water than it is obligated to according to the 1995 Oslo II Agreement (Article 40), they continue to allocate Israeli settlers nearly six times the water resources it allocates to Palestinians. The Oslo Accords were meant to be a temporary arrangement that eventually led to an end to the Israeli occupation and not a final status agreement. Even under Oslo though, Israel has prevented Palestinians from developing its own water resources. Israel‟s obstruction of Palestinian water development has forced Palestinians to be dependent on purchasing water from Israel, 80% of which it takes from land it illegally annexed in the West Bank. Visitors to the West Bank often note that while Israeli settlements frequently have swimming pools, nearby Palestinian villages sometimes do not receive water 5 days a week. Sources: http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/mde150272009en.pdf Claim: Segregation on Veolia buses is a lie. No IDs are required to get on buses. Response: This is simply inaccurate. While it is true that Palestinians with blue ids (who are temporary legal residents of East Jerusalem-- they have been denied citizenship by Israel even though it annexed the land), a Palestinian with a green ID, which includes all residents of the West Bank, cannot get on a bus to Jerusalem. Israeli settlers who live in the same territory have a different color ID, though, and can ride on the bus and tramline. In November 2011, Stanford graduate Fadi Quran, inspired by the Freedom Riders of the American Civil Rights Movement, and several other Palestinians attempted to stay on a bus going to Jerusalem along with other Palestinian activists and they were arrested solely on the basis of being Palestinian and having green IDs. There is in place a system of separate roads and checkpoints in the West Bank that Palestinians cannot use--roads that Israeli settlers in the same territory can. If the bus operates on the Israeli only roads, Palestinians with green IDs cannot use them. Veolia operates some of these Israeli only buses and the tramway connecting the settlements to Jerusalem. Sources:http://www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/veolias_activities_in_israel_and_th e_opt_new.pdf http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-11-15/world/35283321_1_jewish-settlementswest-bank-bus-protest
March 1, 2013 Claim: The „Hellfire‟ missiles Lockheed Martin sells to Israel kill terrorists. No missiles have been fired in the West Bank in eight years. Response: Yes, „Hellfire‟ missiles are used to kill Hamas members, but the vast majority of strike casualties are civilians. While Israel has relied on other weapons systems to maintain its illegal occupation of the West Bank, „Hellfire‟ missiles are routinely fired into the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated regions of the world with 1.5 million people crammed into an area of 25 miles long and between 4 and 8 miles wide. During Operation Cast Lead, which lasted only three weeks, 1400 Palestinians were killed, including 900 civilians, and over 5000 were wounded. Israeli military operations that lasted a week in November 2012 killed 182 Palestinians, including 47 children. Sources: https://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/015/2009/en/8f299083-9a74-4853860f-0563725e633a/mde150152009en.pdf http://www.who.int/hac/crises/international/wbgs/WHO_Initial_Health_Assessment_Report_Ga za_Strip_-_December_2012.pdf Claim: Divestment divides the campus and makes people feel uncomfortable. Response: It deeply concerns us that some on campus are not comfortable with divestment. There is no question that the topic of Palestine and Israel evokes a wide variety of responses. The level of investment and emotion people have can make those who do not know much about the conflict feel uncomfortable. This campaign, though, does not focus on a particular ethnic or religious community, nor does it call for divesting from Israel itself. Rather, it focuses on the actions of particular corporations that violate human rights and international law. It relates to ethical and responsible investment in the region. We know that there are violations of human rights taking place on the ground today. We know that certain businesses profit from facilitating these human rights violations, and we know that the Stanford endowment is likely invested in these companies. Many people worried about Israel‟s security support selective divestment, because they see it as a means of breaking the current impasse and facilitating a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Calling attention to particular Israeli policies and the corporations that support them is no more anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic as criticizing Sudanese policies in Darfur makes one anti-Arab or anti-Muslim or critiquing U.S. drone policy makes one anti-American. Much of the concern stems from misunderstandings about what divestment is and concerns about the intentions of its supporters- few, it seems, have an emotional investment in Veolia running an Israeli-only tramline or Caterpillar custom-making bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes. What Alon suggests in this statement is that we should take no action against the internationally documented human rights violations in Palestine because the larger context of Israel and Palestine makes people uncomfortable. We must remember, though, that our university's current investment in this conflict makes life severely uncomfortable for countless Israelis and Palestinians, both in the region and here on campus. Taking no action means our university will continue to subsidize policies of institutional discrimination, home demolitions, and the annexation of land, as laid out in the bill.
March 1, 2013 The larger political conflict in the Middle East will continue regardless of our endowment's actions; this still does not absolve us of our ethical duty to remove ourselves from profiting from it. Claim: The ASSU should not be talking about this bill because it doesn‟t affect Stanford students. Response: The ASSU Senate serves an important function in amplifying the voice of students and signaling student concern about particular university policies to the Board of Trustees. The requirement of “direct effect on at least one Stanford student” is satisfied in four independent ways: (1) Article, Section 5(B)(1) of the ASSU Undergarduate Senate Bylaws provide that resolutions like this “direct[ed] to other elements of the University” “suffice[s]” to meet the „direct effect‟ requirement; (2) Funds for financial aid, which ¾ Stanford students receive, derives in part from the endowment, according to a September 2012 piece in the USA Today (citing Lisa Lapin, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs at Stanford); (3) The underlying policies highlighted in the bill affect Stanford students from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and their families in significant ways; (4) The ethical framework that underlies the university‟s endowment concerns all students, including the hundreds that have signed our petition and pronounced that they do not want their education funded by profits from a conflict like this. The fact that previous Senates have passed resolutions on the issue of investment responsibility, including in calling for investment disclosure in 2005, divestment for Sudan also in 2005, and the adoption of criteria pertaining to conflict minerals in the DRC in 2010, further attests to its constitutionality. The Senate, in fact, passed a resolution in February 2005 that specifically “calls on the Board of Trustees to allow for greater, more direct student involvement and input in the ethical oversight of the endowment.”
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