Divestment Resolution Should Verify Claims

Dear Editor,

The A.S. divestment resolution advances prima facie, a concern for human rights. No one disputes the need for mechanisms like regional institutions to protect international human rights. However, the resolution does not advance those goals of human-rights protection, and instead unfairly maligns and dishonestly targets the state and people of Israel.

It is important to know the magnitude of the Israeli-Palestinian strife, but like all conflicts, the causes, actors and institutions involved are varied and multifaceted. I was in Israel during the Gaza War a year and a half ago, and it is clear to me that the A.S. resolution fails to give sufficient color to the crisis facing the Middle East, and instead misjudges the current state of affairs.

On a research note, as a graduate student, I am deeply disturbed by the biased nature of sources and the rhetoric adopted by the authors and supporters of the resolution. First, Israel bears no resemblance to South Africa, having unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005. By contrast, Hamas and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade have singly targeted the Jewish population, having killed 1,000 innocent Israelis. 

Secondly, measures from unbiased researchers have reported major improvements in terms of Israeli compliance of international human rights accords in the past decades. Israel remains the only state in the Middle East that protects and advances women’s and LGBT rights. Measures of democratic development and civil liberties also reflect a high degree of free speech, free press and an open and vibrant multi-party system that includes Arabs and Muslims.

Finally, as an Asian-American with parents coming from a country that does repress human rights, I see active discussions on campus concerning human rights in Iran and creative student efforts led by Liberty in North Korea on very real human-rights abuses in North Korea. Maybe the A.S. Council should look into those efforts. But for the time being, A.S. resolutions need to be responsible and should contain verifiable claims that advance honest inquiry. This resolution fails on those counts. 

—Jeffrey Kwong

 PhD student,

international relations