In response to a recent call for University divestment from Israel, a newly formed student group condemned the divestment campaign in a press release Thursday.
In the statement, Yale Students Against Divestment, or YSAD, denounced the divestment campaign as “morally bankrupt” and called on Yale President Richard Levin to state that Yale’s investment policy will not change as a result of the campaign. The statement came two days after the Yale Divest from Israel Campaign, or YDIC, initiated a petition demanding that Yale divest from corporations that conduct business in Israel.
YSAD co-president Noam Waldoks ’04 said the group formed in response to the recent movements on campus advocating divestment, including the YDIC petition and the Students for Justice in Palestine awareness campaign this week, which has emphasized divestment.
“We’re formed in response to this horrid — and immoral campaign,” Waldoks said.
YSAD co-president Joanna Siev ’03 said the divestment campaign is “morally misguided” in comparing the situation in Israel to South African apartheid. The YSAD press release said this comparison is “offensive and false.”
Rod Swenson MFA ’69, the alumni spokesman for the YDIC campaign, said YDIC supporters were aware their views may be unpopular.
“This is not a numbers game,” Swenson said. “What we’re advocating is international law — The main thing about these laws is they’re not subject to vote, or to majority.”
Waldoks said Israel’s human rights record is “stellar.” He said Israel’s human rights performance has been better than that of any other country in the region.
But Samuel Bernstein ’05, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, said he thought the comparison between South Africa and Israel is appropriate.
“The parallels are quite obvious,” Bernstein said. “Israel is an apartheid state based on Zionism, which is a racist ideology.”
Siev said she hopes Yale’s administration will follow the lead set by other Ivy League presidents who have come out against divestment.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger issued a press release Nov. 7 condemning the movement.
“As President of Columbia — I want to state clearly that I will not lend any support to this proposal,” Bollinger said. “The petition alleges human rights abuses and compares Israel to South Africa at the time of apartheid, an analogy I believe is both grotesque and offensive.”
Waldoks said YSAD has been in contact with other pro-Israel groups on campus, including Yale Friends of Israel, or YFI. YFI co-president Elyse Schneiderman ’05 said YFI’s views parallel YSAD’s.
“This is a group of students who are so upset by the illegitimate divestment campaign that they wanted to have their voices heard,” Schneiderman said. “Although [the YSAD] press statement is not the official YFI statement, we are all working together to condemn and combat the divestment campaign.”
YSAD organizers said they are planning action on campus in the coming weeks, but would not comment on the nature of this action.