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February 26, 2009 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-02-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Motorola, Terex, ITT and General
Electric.
According to Students for Justice
in Palestine, it made presentations to
both the school's investment responsi-
bility subcommittee and the full board
of trustees in May, after which the
subcommittee recommended divest-
ment from the six companies.
Hexter maintains, however, that
when the recommendation came
before the full investment committee,
it was decided to undertake a broader
screen of one of the college' invest-
ment funds. The screen, performed by
KLD Research & Analytics, found that
the school was invested in more than
200 companies that violated principles
of socially responsible investing,
including several flagged by the stu-
dents.
According to the school, however,
the screen did not involve any criteria
relating specifically to Israel. Instead,
KLD evaluated issues relating to
military weapons, employee discrimi-
nation, environmental concerns and
employee safety, and also examined
companies' operations in two coun-
tries, Sudan and Myanmar.
What' more, two of the compa-
nies named by Students for Justice
in Palestine — Motorola and Terex
— passed KLD' screen, according to
the college. A third company, United
Technologies, was not screened
because it was not part of the fund at
the time.
Hexter, insisting that the decision
was not a divestment from Israel,
noted that the school maintains its
investments in Israeli firms.
"The one thing that was quite clear
in the investment committee from the
start was that it was unacceptable for
members to focus a decision on one
area, and let me say specifically, on
Israel: said Hexter, who is on record
opposing divestment from Israel.

Differing Views
"Hampshire College's efforts to spin
its recent decision to disinvest in
State Street Fund as a broad social
responsibility initiative rather than a
response to the Students for Justice
in Palestine campaign of vilification

directed against Israel is self-impor-
tant obfuscation at its worst:" said
Professor Kenneth Waltzer, director
of Jewish studies at Michigan State
University.
He added, "Rather than sup-
port a campus environment where
the complex search for truth is
honored, where competing narratives
are recognized and approached with
equal critical acumen, Hampshire
College has chosen to embrace a
single standard of truth and move
the institution in lockstep with it. You
have taken the lead in a reprehensible
national movement to disinvest from
the state of Israel and by doing so to
demonize the Jewish state."
The group Students for Justice in
Palestine continues to dispute the
college's version of events, claiming
that "the Palestine-Israel conflict was
the most prominent reason behind
divestment" In a statement posted to
its Web site, the group also says the
administration sought its advice about
which companies to avoid — a claim
firmly denied by Hexter.
"SJP is disappointed that the col-
lege is choosing to shy away from the
political implications of its action
rather than embrace this moment:' the
group said. "Regardless, a week ago
Hampshire College was invested in the
Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today,
the college is no longer complicit in
the funding of this injustice."
Ironically, Dershowitz — a Harvard
Law School professor, an outspoken
critic of divestment efforts and the
parent of a Hampshire alumnus
— echoed the sentiments of Students
for Justice in Palestine in accusing
the college administration of not
fully owning up to what it had done.
"Neither side is being forthright,"
Dershowitz said. "The students are
overstating what happened and the
administration is understating what
happened."
Dershowitz is urging divestment
from Hampshire, calling it the "No. I"
college in the United States deserving
of divestment because of this episode
and its tolerance for an atmosphere
of hostility to the Jewish state that is
"poison" for pro-Israel students. ❑

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