Friday, February 20, 2009

Politically Incorrect Disinvesting? Alan Dershowitz Calls for Israel Related “Counter-Disinvestment Campaign”

Harvard Law School Professor Alan M. Dershowitz has called for a “counter-disinvestment campaign” against Hampshire College unless the school explicitly denies claims that their recent decision to withdraw from a mutual fund represents an act of divestment from Israel, reports The Harvard Crimson.

Hampshire administrators decided earlier this month to withdraw investments from a State Street mutual fund with holdings in six companies contracting with the Israeli military, after a college student group, Students for Justice in Palestine, petitioned the school to divest because of the companies’ ties to what students called “Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.”

Hampshire President Ralph M. Hexter said that the move resulted from a broader review of the fund that was prompted by the student petition and found that many of its companies—not just those flagged by the students—did not meet the college’s ethical standards, the Crimosm goes on.

“Israel’s occupation played no role in this decision,” Hexter said. “I want to make it very clear that we have funds in other Israeli companies, and we’re continuing to hold onto those stocks.”

After the student group hailed Hampshire’s decision as a divestment victory,in a press release, Dershowitz entered the fray, demanding to know from the group’s leaders and Hampshire administrators whether the decision was an act of divestment.

Dershowitz said he called the student group’s spokesperson to confirm that Hampshire had divested from Israel, and that he did not want to launch a campaign to stop donations to the college unless the college had divested.

“Dershowitz called me a few minutes after the press release came out,” said Matan Cohen, a student spokesperson for the group and a sophomore at Hampshire. “He threatened to start a boycott campaign against me, SJP, and the college at large.”

Dershowitz, whose son attended Hampshire, acknowledged calling the student group and administrators but denied allegations that he threatened anyone. “Anyone who interpreted it as a threat is simply lying for ideological reasons,” Dershowitz said.

Facing the possibility of a boycott, administrators at the college issued a “statement of clarification” that said the decision to withdraw from the fund was made “without reference to any country or political movement,” in an effort to distance itself from the claim that the college had divested from Israel.

1 comment:

  1. Why can't the administration at Hampshire just go for it and declare a policy of divestment from Israel? They have so much to gain by standing up to Dershowitz and his gang of thugs. Hundreds of thousands of donors from across the country could be tapped by making this move. They could use Obama's grass-roots, on-line fundraising as a model and overwhelm the big money donors so easily. Plus thousands of parents from across the country would commit to sending their kids to Hampshire, parents with the resources to do so. My husband and I are two. Hampshire could easily withstand Dersh's boycott and thrive on clean money. It truly could become the bastion of liberal humanism that it aspires to be by taking this step. And it is doable.