Hampshire College Divests from Israeli Occupation

By Schaeffer-Duffy, Claire | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Hampshire College Divests from Israeli Occupation

Schaeffer-Duffy, Claire, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

STUDENT activists and officials at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA dispute the significance of the college's recent decision to divest from a mutual fund whose holdings include six corporations involved in Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

On Feb. 7, Hampshire's Board of Trustees voted to withdraw its assets from a fund run by State Street Global Advisors.

A campus group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), hailed the decision as a "landmark move" and attributed it to their two-year campaign to pressure the college to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in the occupied territories. The student activists said they were responding to "a call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as a way of bringing non-violent pressure" on Israel "to end its violation of international law."

More than 800 students, professors and alumni at the small liberal arts college, whose student population numbers 1,350, signed a petition specifically recommending the college divest from companies that contribute to the Israeli military occupation of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the construction of the Separation Wall, or "violent acts that target either Israeli or Palestinian civilians."

"By divesting from these companies, SJP believes that Hampshire has distanced itself from complicity in the illegal occupation and war crimes of Israel," declared the students in a press release celebrating the Feb. 7 vote.

Hampshire officials denied any political motivation behind the divestment vote. In a "statement of clarification" posted on the college's Web site, Hampshire's president, board chairman and dean of faculty insisted that the decision to withdraw assets from the State Street fund was made "without reference to any country or political movement."

While officials acknowledged that SJP's petition had prompted a review of the State Street fund, they said Hampshire divested because an outside consultant discovered the fund held stocks in "200-plus companies engaged in multiple violations of the college's investment policy." These violations included unfair labor practices, environmental abuse, military weapons manufacturing, and unsafe workplace settings. "No other report or interpretation" of the Feb. 7 vote "is accurate," according to the college statement.

But minutes from an Aug. 28 meeting of the college's investment subcommittee record members voting to divest only from Caterpillar, Terex, Motorola, ITT, United Technologies, and General Electric.

"A week ago, Hampshire College was invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today, the college is no longer complicit."

All six corporations provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and are among companies recommended for divestment by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Hampshire College Divests from Israeli Occupation


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?