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August 16, 2010

Harvard Not Divesting from Israel

No, Harvard is not divesting from Israel.

Harvard may be the home of some pretty ardent anti-Israel commentators such as Sabeel activist Hilary Rantisi (who also works as director of the Middle East Study Initiative at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) and Paul Beran, Outreach Director at the Outreach Center for Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES). And then there is the inimitable Sara Roy who has drawn parallels between the behavior of Israeli soldiers and Nazis during the Third Reich, a senior research scholar at CMES. And of course, we can’t forget Stephen Walt!

Despite all this, Harvard – contrary to this reporthas not, we repeat, has not divested from Israel. The overheated comments are indicative of just how unhinged things can get when newspapers put out inaccurate information.

In response to the report, the Harvard Management Company issued a statement declaring that the recent sale of holdings of companies doing business in Israel is related to a rebalancing of its assets. Here is what The Man From Harvard(TM) said:

The Management Company's most recent SEC filing details changes in holdings, as is routine, but no change in policy. The University has not divested from Israel. Israel was moved from the MSCI, our benchmark in emerging markets, to the EAFE index in May due to its successful growth.

Our emerging markets holdings were rebalanced accordingly. We have holdings in developed markets, including Israel, through outside managers in commingled accounts and indexes, which are not reported in the filing in question.

(Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/harvard-explains-israel-sales-israel-is-no-longer-an-emerging-market-2010-8#ixzz0wn1wQDVK)

So what will Harvard’s intrepid critics of Israel do?

Some of them, especially those that support divestment face a real moral quandary.

Rantisi, for example, is a former employee of Sabeel (she co-authored a book with Sabeel's founder Naim Ateek). Sabeel has called for churches and Christians to divest from companies that do business in Israel.

And Paul Beran has written in support of divestment from Israel in a Presbyterian venue, calling it a “Curiously Strong Moral Activity.”

And yet the very institution for which these activists work – Harvard – derives some of its income from … ISRAEL!

Can these activists continue to draw a salary from Harvard in good conscience. Harvard after all, invests in ... ISRAEL ... even as they call upon others to divest?

(Yes, we know the screeching violins are getting old, but so is the hypocrisy of the BDS brigade.)

Posted by dvz at August 16, 2010 12:47 PM

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