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UC must respect human rights, divest

Daily Bruin


The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Palestinian suicide bombings are acts so egregious, the University of California has no business associating itself with either side of the conflict in any way.

Some 165 University of California professors have recognized this, signing a petition requesting that the UC divest from Israel. The hope is that the dissent of large Israeli corporations from their government's military actions, as a result of divestment, can bring the region's humans rights violations to a close where other measures have failed. Governments may be bull-headed in foreign relations, but they are rarely so stubborn when dealing with their wealthy citizens, who can threaten to move their corporate operations to other countries to avoid losing money to protesting stock-holders.

When the university invests in Israeli corporations, the profits, in turn, are taxed by the Israeli government and help support the occupation of the West Bank, as well as other militaristic ventures. Private institutions can do as they please with their money, but the UC is funded in part by taxpayers, not all of which support helping Israel fight Palestinians, or vice versa, however indirect the assistance may be. While divestment from Israeli corporations is justified, it doesn't imply Israelis are the sole bearers of blame for the human rights violations. If the Palestinians had their own state, the UC would have an obligation to withdraw its investments from there as well.

The UC's investment portfolio is not independent of its social responsibilities. In 1984, the UC divested from South Africa because it, too, was clearly violating human rights during apartheid. But the UC has still not divested from Burma, even though its investments there help fund the economic infrastructure which supports a totalitarian government. In this case, and in the case of Israel, there should be no ambiguity about the UC's responsibility; it needs to divest immediately.


Following the editorial, the zionists attacked the newspaper and the University. A special letter by the editor was published:


Special Letter from the Editor


An influx of responses to the July 8 editorial "UC must respect human rights, divest," indicates a significant number of readers have confused the difference between news coverage and editorials. There is also misunderstanding as to the nature of the Daily Bruin's relation to the university.

An editorial represents the position a newspaper takes on an issue and is meant as just one perspective the public can use in developing its own viewpoint on current events. The opinion of the editorial board does not carry over to our news coverage; we report our news as fairly as possible, independent of editorial positions.

The Bruin is not a mouthpiece for the university or any entity therein. A number of readers have threatened to withdraw donations to the university, not permit their children to attend UCLA, and to return their degrees to Murphy Hall in protest because of opinions recently expressed by the editorial board. Readers should realize the university and the Bruin are independent – the views expressed in editorials belong to the editorial board, not the university. As such, the editorial board's views will not change because readers threaten to pit the university against it.

Last week's editorial – which called for the University of California's divestment from businesses in Israel – should not be misinterpreted as an endorsement of violence against Israel. The editorial stated the board did not support violence by either side in the conflict. It said the board would support divestment if a Palestinian state serving as a host to both UC investments and human rights violations existed.


A letter of support sent to the newspaper:

Hold true to beliefs through opposition

I found the necessity for your Special Letter to be a very depressing reflection on the pressures placed on you if you fail to conform to many of your readers' "opinions." Similar pressures have been put on major media companies, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. There seems to be a frightening impression that U.S. media will be prepared to distort reality if enough pressure is placed on it.

It is a result of this pressure, in my opinion, that Americans are about as ignorant as it is possible to be, from Bush and Powell downward, on the facts relating to Palestine. The problem has nothing to do with suicide bombings, violence or Arafat. The problem is entirely due to Israel's continuing failure to comply with International Law on Occupation, Settlements and Refugees.

The media in Europe is not subjected to such abuse, or, if it is, it does not succumb.

Christopher Leadbeater
Hailey, England