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News :: International
Hampshire denies Israel divestment
21 Feb 2009
A Massachusetts college denied the claim of a pro-Palestinian student group that it divested from Israel.

The board of trustees of Hampshire College approved a proposal on Feb. 7 to divest school assets from an investment fund found to include 200 companies that violated the college's standards for social responsibility. Violations included unfair labor practices, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing and unsafe workplace settings.

The proposal resulted from a review prompted by a student group, Students for Justice in Palestine. The group named six companies it accused of profiting from or supporting Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Following the board decision, the pro-Palestinian students released a statement claiming that Hampshire is the first American college to divest from Israel.

But school officials say their decision had nothing to do with Israel. Three of the six companies failed a screen for socially responsible investing based on their sales of military equipment, employee safety record and other violations, according to a spokesman. Two of the companies named by the student group -- Motorola and Terex -- passed the screen, the spokesman said. A sixth company, United Technologies, was unlisted.

Divestment efforts and academic boycotts of Israel have largely failed, in the United States and abroad. A divestment push at Harvard University drew a rebuke from Lawrence Summers, then the university president and current Obama administration official. Summers said efforts to single out Israel for divestment are anti-Semitic "in their effect, if not their intent."

In May, the United Methodist Church rejected five separate petitions calling for divestment from companies that support or profit from the Israeli occupation, a move that drew praise from Jewish organizations.

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NO Divestment at Hammshire
22 Feb 2009
Students for Justice in Palestine Lie? Big Surprise.

The Hampshire College administration is at pains to explain that, in spite of what Students for Justice in Palestine has been trying to claim, they have not divested from Israel (or 'occupation')-related investments: Ralph Hexter and Sigmund Roos: An open letter to Alan Dershowitz

...In sum, what KLD found was that of the fund's 455 holdings, well over 200 raised significant concerns relative to Hampshire College's socially responsible investment policy and were in violation of values of socially responsible investing. It was on this basis that the investment committee voted as it did to exit from the fund when an alternative fund has been identified. The decision was entirely unrelated to Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, two of the six companies originally cited by students as problematic were given a clean bill of health on Hampshire's policy by the KLD screeners (and a third, it turned out, was not even listed as a constituent of the fund).

At the risk of repetition, let us emphasize again that this review did not include Israel, its interaction with the Palestinians, nor its presence on the West Bank as tests for the stocks in this fund. Moreover, Hampshire currently holds investments in funds that include many hundreds of companies that do business in Israel and in at least three actual Israeli companies: Amdocs, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Check Point Software...

The letter also contains about as close to a veiled threat to SJP as it's possible for a coddling administration to get:

...Sadly, though, there have been students and some members of our faculty who have mischaracterized what happened here, claiming that the board did something that it did not do. None is a member of the investment committee. We have great respect for our students and encourage their endeavors - academic, social, political. We very much want our campus to be a place for learning and for healthy debate from all points of view. But we are also clear, and urge you to understand us clearly, when we say that students do not speak for the college and may not willfully misrepresent the school. It will be, and must be, the college's task to undertake any disciplinary action, according to its established rules and procedures. Discipline is an internal process that is not shared with the public...
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