The following statement was released by Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone:
(Washington, D.C. -- March 18, 2010) The decision of the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley (ASUC) calling on the university to divest from several companies doing business with Israel is one-sided, divisive and undermines the pursuit of peace.
Singling Israel out for economic punishment exonerates Israel’s enemies from any responsibility for the conflict. Furthermore, by focusing exclusively on Israel, the measure ignores the egregious human rights records of dozens of totalitarian regimes around the world.
Isolating Israel economically is the wrong approach. It is far more effective to encourage the parties in the Middle East to accept Israel’s legitimacy and to foster deeper political and economic cooperation. As the book “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle” by Dan Senor and Saul Singer shows, investing in israel can help generate regional prosperity, promote good will and contribute to the pursuit of peace. The ASUC bill will not contribute a whit to the advancement of peace in the Middle East and will only serve to divide the Berkeley community.
We applaud the pro-Israel students from across the ideological spectrum who stood up courageously in the face of provocation to oppose this measure. We support the efforts of Berkeley Hillel Executive Director Adam Naftalin-Kelman and his staff who are working tirelessly to educate the campus about Israel. Hillel thanks the many partners on campus and in the community who have supported Berkeley Hillel’s efforts.
Going forward, it is our hope that the Berkeley Administration will reject this bill for what it is: biased, destructive and counterproductive.
Wayne L. Firestone
President and CEO
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life