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Tuesday, November 6 2007

Cardinal Error

StanfordStanford junior Amanda Gelender takes a stab at addressing why Israel should be singled out for a divestment campaign:

Some of you may wonder, “Why do you focus on Israel? Aren’t there lots of human rights abuses that deserve our attention?” It’s true, there are many human rights abuses occurring across the world, including violations in our own country. All of these injustices merit recognition, and Israel is no exception. We single out Israel for the same reason that others single out Darfur or Burma: because there are atrocious human rights abuses occurring in a specific socio-political context. But more importantly, we focus on Israel because it is the number one recipient of US foreign aid, most of which is in the form of military grants. As American citizens and taxpayers, a better question might be: “Why not focus on Israel?”

Gelender's wrong on four counts:

• She disingenuously equates democratic Israel with the authoritarian regimes of Sudan and Burma.

• Saying that Israel, Burma and Sudan are all engaged in "atrocious human rights abuses occurring in a specific socio-political context" diminishes the Burmese junta's brutal crackdown on dissent and even more so the genocide in Darfur.

• US aid is just a further excuse to push divestment because Israel has a modern economy that stands to suffer. The US has little leverage on the more dire situations in poorer Sudan and Burma.

• If American aid is the determining factor of human rights scrutiny, Gelender should push for divestment from Egypt, which receives $1.3 billion from the US. Egypt's been in the news for deporting fleeing refugees back to Sudan, police torture, and imprisoning journalists.



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