BY ALEC HUDSON – STAFF WRITER
One of the negative aspects of going to a private liberal arts college is that the school’s endowment is not transparent. Though students and staff are allowed to meet and discuss the endowment with members of the Board of Trustees, the official documents and investments of the endowment are kept private to ensure little outside interference.
While this may seem reasonable to an institution that isn’t required to give financial information to the public, it raises a serious question about what sort of investments the school is directly involved in.
Is it possible that Centre, like many institutions of higher education, directly invests in companies that legitimize foreign occupation of land by the government of Israel?
This question has been posed by many faculty members, but the administration has refused to look into the question so as not to touch what is widely seen as too controversial of an issue.
But the reality is that if the college does indeed invest with firms that support the illegal occupation of the West Bank by Israel, our college is directly responsible for prolonging one of the most destructive and inhumane campaigns of land acquisition in history.
Because of this, the administration and leadership of Centre College should seriously consider looking into their investments and divesting from all companies or entities that support the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
To be clear, regardless of what lobbyists for Israel may say, opposition to such apartheid tactics by Israel against the Palestinians does not equate to anti-Semitism.
There are many progressive Jewish organizations and activists, such as former Israeli Education Minister Shulamit Aloni, Jewish-American scholar Noam Chomsky, and Rabbi Michael Lerner who are critical of the Israeli government’s policies in the Occupied Territories and demand that the government change its policy.
Furthermore, such attempts at changing the foreign policy of other nations are not without precedent.
Throughout the 1980s, universities and other institutions were proactive in divesting and boycotting the government of South Africa during its Apartheid regime when the Reagan administration preferred a “constructive engagement” with the racist regime. Students like the young Barack Obama marched and protested to ensure that the racist regime of South Africa would not receive any financial backing from American institutions.
They did this because they knew that support of the South African government would only prolong the undemocratic regime and support their efforts to silence critics.
Likewise, current financial support of institutions for the Israeli government has allowed the country to continue its hypocritical policy of seizing land in the name of defending the interests of Israel and its unique Jewish heritage.
This is hypocritical because for a nation that feels threatened by radical Islam and hostile theocratic states to the point that it won’t negotiate with the leaders of Gaza, it has in recent years promoted a theocratic policy of settlements by justifying the claims of religious settlers.
Palestinians are kicked out of their homes, threatened by settlers who are directly armed by the Israeli government, and are left impoverished in refugee camps from Lebanon to Jordan. These are not the actions of a just government. The Israeli regime under Benjamin Netanyahu has time and again given settlers access to land that does not belong to them and has ignored calls from international bodies including the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to stop the illegal settlements.
While this campaign is critical of the criminal actions of the Israeli government, it must be clear that such a campaign does not have the intent of the destruction of the state of Israel. It is simply an effort to force the Israeli government to recognize international law and cease its unilateral claiming of Palestinian territory.
Because of this, Centre College must seriously consider divesting from Israeli companies and institutions that enable the Israeli government’s criminal acts. Centre’s administration can make a bold statement for human rights if it has the courage to ensure that none of its investments are directly funding illegal foreign occupation.