Monday, May 29th | 4 Sivan 5777

Close

Be in the know!

Get our exclusive daily news briefing.

Subscribe
December 18, 2014 5:13 pm

Harvard’s President Stops an Anti-Israel Boycott

avatar by Alan Dershowitz

Email a copy of "Harvard’s President Stops an Anti-Israel Boycott" to a friend

Harvard University. Photo: Jacob Rus.

The Harvard University Dining Service has been rebuffed in its efforts to join the Boycott Movement against Israel. A group of radical anti-Israel Harvard students and faculty had persuaded the dining service to boycott Sodastream, an Israeli company that manufactures soda machines that produce a product that is both healthy and economical. But Harvard President Drew Faust rebuffed this boycott and decided to investigate the unilateral action of the Harvard University Dining Services.

I have visited the Sodastream factory and spoken to many of its Palestinian-Arab employees, who love working for a company that pays them high wages and manufactures excellent working conditions. I saw Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians, working together and producing this excellent product.

The Sodastream factory I visited was in Ma’ale Adumim—a suburb of Jerusalem that Palestinian Authority leaders acknowledge will remain part of Israel in any negotiated resolution of the conflict. I was told this directly by Palestinian president Mohammad Abbas and by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Moreover, in all the negotiations about borders and land swaps, the Palestinians have acknowledged that Ma’ale Adumim will remain within Israel’s borders.

Related coverage

June 30, 2016 3:51 pm
6

Entebbe: Are We Heeding the Lessons?

July 4th marks the 40th anniversary of the rescue of Israeli hostages at Entebbe. Today we are surrounded by international terrorism....

Accordingly, although the factory is in an area beyond the Armistice lines of 1949, it is not really disputed territory. Nor does it pose any barrier to a two-state solution. Moreover, Israel offered to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians in 2000-2001 and in 2008, but the Palestinian Authority did not accept either offer. Had these generous offers been accepted, the dispute would have ended and Ma’ale Adumim would have been recognized as part of Israel. So the Palestinian leadership shares responsibility for the continuation of the conflict and the unresolved status of the area in which Sodastream operates. Punishing only Israel—and Israeli companies—for not resolving the conflict serves only to disincentivize the Palestinian Authority from accepting compromise solutions.

The students and faculty who sought the boycott of Sodastream invoked human rights. But it is they who are causing the firing of more than 500 Palestinian workers who would like to continue to earn a living at Sodastream. As a result of misguided boycotts, such as the one unilaterally adopted by the Harvard University Dining Services, Sodastream has been forced to move its factory to an area in Israel where few, if any, Arabs can be employed. This is not a victory for human rights. It is a victory for human wrongs.

I have no doubt that some students and other members of the Harvard community may be offended by the presence of Sodastream machines.  Let them show their displeasure by not using the machines instead of preventing others who are not offended from obtaining their health benefits. Many students are also offended by their removal. Why should the views of the former prevail over those of the latter? I’m sure that some students are offended by any products made in Israel, just as some are offended by products made in Arab or Muslim countries that oppress gays, Christians and women. Why should the Harvard University Dining Service—or a few handfuls of students and professors— get to decide whose feelings of being offended count and whose don’t?

In addition to the substantive error made by Harvard University Dining Services, there is also an important issue of process. What right does a single Harvard University entity have to join the boycott movement against Israel without full and open discussion by the entire university community, including students, faculty, alumni and administration?  Even the president and provost were unaware of this divisive decision until they read about it in the Crimson. As Provost Garber wrote:

“Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy.”

Were those who made the boycott decision even aware of the arguments on the other side, such as those listed above?  The decision of the HUDS must be rescinded immediately and a process should be instituted for discussing this issue openly with all points of view and all members of the university community represented. The end result should be freedom of choice: those who disapprove of Sodastream should be free to drink Pepsi. But those who don’t disapprove should be free to drink Sodastream.

Economic boycotts should be reserved for the most egregious violations of human rights. They should not be used to put pressure on only one side of a dispute that has rights and wrongs on both sides.

Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School (emeritus) and author of Terror Tunnels:  The Case for Israel’s Just War Against Hamas (Rosetta Books 2014)

Share this Story: Share On Facebook Share On Twitter Email This Article

Let your voice be heard!

Join the Algemeiner
  • Moises Engel

    It is somewhat saddening to observe how one of the very cradles of American democratic institutions, the school where so many American leaders are prepared to leead both their country and the world, is also subject to such actions, that plainly are the expression of feelings that have no roots on reality, no foundations of sanity, that simply follow the propaganda spewed by individuals who never pretended nor shall pretend to attain any good for society at large, just to advance the fanaticism of a few strays from human nature

    One would expect that the fair decisions of the administration shall prevail over the rantings of the rabble and that this example might preclude further actions of this lowly nature

  • Aviva Roth

    Goes to show Harvard students and faculty are not the geniuses they are made out to be.Pandering to terrorists and their propaganda, after all, Jews, including Jesus of Nazareth have been on the lands in question for over 3000 years, while Islam has been around half that time, a pretty recent addition. Are these students attending their history classes, or do they just go along with the ‘flair of the month’ whatever is popular, go with the tide. Quite disappointing, that these so called privileged student body as rather dumb

  • Anat Stemmer

    How embarrassing for Harvard. It shows complete anarchy in policy making, very superficial and shallow consideration of issues and ultimately a wrongful decision which hurts the peace process and a workplace in which Israelis and Palestinians successfully worked together. In the institute of higher education admired all over the world for its excellence, no one took the time to look up facts, think things through or engage in a meaningful discussion of issues; proper process was ignored and administration was caught unaware. If this was supposed to prevent people from feeling hurt – it managed to make a large number getting hurt and feeling under siege. It does resonate of days past…

  • rd

    i can’t believe that dershowitz still thinks there can be some kind of “peace deal”? seriously? why would any intelligent or common sense jew give up his own ancestral land for a fauz peace with a genocidal enemy?
    earth to dershowitz earth to dershowitz, come in alan….

  • Janis

    What the BDS Movement fails to realise is that they are costing Palestinians their jobs and livelihoods. How is that supporting Palestinians?

  • Marshall

    Drew Faust is a woman. Other than that, great piece.

    • “The Sodastream factory I visited was in Ma’ale Adumim—a suburb of Jerusalem that Palestinian Authority leaders acknowledge will remain part of Israel in any negotiated resolution of the conflict. I was told this directly by Palestinian president Mohammad Abbas and by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.”

      *sigh* Professor Dershowitz should actually read the text of the proposed Pal UN resolution instead of listening to verbiage by serial prevaricator and Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas.

      It calls for re-dividing Jerusalem, and while Ma’ale Adumim might be part of those ‘agreed upon and severely limited land swaps’ it calls for, it will be so isolated and vulnerable to attacks by those Arabs whom call themselves Palestinians that the Jews will be forced to abandon it.

      It’s frankly sickening that so many Jews are so willing to fool themselves that any piece of paper ‘Palestine’ signs with Israel will be worth anything..especially after Abbas and the Fatah top brass use their Jordanian passports to move to the Emirates or the EU with all the money they’ve stolen and Hamas takes over.

      A quote from Yasser Arafat after he signed the Oslo Accords that bears remembering..”I’ve killed for my cause. Don’t you think I would lie for it?”

  • Mark Jay Mirsky

    I am proud of the President of my Alma Mater, my father’s Alma Mater, and my daughter’s for taking this step. I was depressed when it seemed as if Harvard was moving in the direction of economic boycott. Our only hope as Jews for peace in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is to encourage economic cooperation. As the comments point out, the pressure only hurts Palestinian workers and erodes the possibility of trust based on common interests.

  • Judie

    I don’t see where it says he stopped it, only that he’ll investigate it.

  • Cynthia

    Tell these so called do gooders to mind their own business.

  • Leonardo Miselis

    No antisemitivism must be allowed in any campus or anyplace. We must stop from classrooms any initiative of this matter. I appretiate the leadership of Harvard excecuted by its peesident.

  • Jeanne Jacob

    This boycott echoes the boycott of Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany — the first of 4 measures that led to the Holocaust. Bonn City Museum’s memorial for its former Jewish community lists them:
    1. Boykott juedischer Geschaefte und Praxen (boycott of Jewish businesses and practices)
    2. Ausschluss aus dem Berufsleben (removal from employment/livelihood)
    3. Gesellschaftliche Aechtung und Diskriminierung (community-wide discrimination)
    4. Nuernberger Gesetze (Nuremberg Laws)

    • niva

      Ms. Jacob…thanks for pointing this information out.

  • We had the same SodaStream nonsense here in the UK. As you mention, the only result is 500 fewer well paid jobs for Palestinians working in an area that all agree is part of Israel. Bigots and Israel bashers should check the facts before declaring a boycott.

    • Karen Pottruff

      I concur. Jobs would be lost if Sodastream were taken out of Harvard’s Dining Service.

  • Does Alan Deshowitz understand that these people want to “disincentivize” the Palestinians from accepting compromise?

    That at bottom, their view of “human rights” provides for no such rights for Jews?

    I suspect that Mr. Deshowitz understands, as all astute observers do, that the BDS movement seeks the destruction of the Jews, and nothing less – however they characterize their intentions.

  • Pinchas Baram

    a little jewish radical pishika (pisspot) at Hahvahd initiated this fiasco, claiming that Palestinian Arabs at Hahvahd would be “offended” by sodastream; so she led the boycott effort. she’s also a member of that entity called Open Hillel. she deserves a hard slap in her ugly little punim.

    • Dorothy J. Litt

      Love your response. Couldn’t have said it better myself. These pishers and pisherkas are ignorant and being led by a bunch of anti-Semites who only want Israel to disappear. Do they think that if they get their way it will stop there. For the most part I really don’t think they know the repercussions their actions will be. Just a little power trip. Every one knows about “First they came for the Saturday people, then the Sunday people”,etc.They need to do some growing up. Glad the President took the right stand.

  • zbrk

    Professor Dershowitz states: “As a result of misguided boycotts, such as the one unilaterally adopted by the Harvard University Dining Services, Sodastream has been forced to move its factory to an area in Israel where few, if any, Arabs can be employed.” Unfortunately, this statement is partially incorrect.

    I live within a few miles of the soon-to-be-opened new Sodastream factory. It is on the outskirts of Rahat, a Bedouin city of more than 50,000 people. Those people will be the Israeli Arabs who will take the jobs that the BDS movement has, through its unfathomable actions, worked to take away from Palestinian Arabs.

    Good job, BDS! Keep it up and you will totally trash the economy of those you purport to want to help. But most of us know that your aims are not to help Palestinians (unless as a collateral result of attacking Jews).

    • Rabbi Menashe Bovit

      Actually, the BDSers like Hamas intentionally want to exacerbate the roiling frustration of the “Palestinian” Arab/Muslims. Palestinian society is completely unproductive and can’t provide employment to their brainwashed wards who are reared on the hateful media of the P.A. and the inflammatory rhetoric of Islamist preachers. Those behind the BDS movement are hoping that as conditions worsen with more incitement this violent population will launch another violent intifada which will of course bring the necessary Israeli military response, “innocent” Palestinian casualties and the obligatorily condemnation of the media, the U.N., E.U. and more delegitimatizing of Israel.

  • zbrk

    Professor Dershowitz states: “As a result of misguided boycotts, such as the one unilaterally adopted by the Harvard University Dining Services, Sodastream has been forced to move its factory to an area in Israel where few, if any, Arabs can be employed.” Unfortunately, this statement is partially incorrect.

    I live within a few miles of the soon-to-be-opened new Sodastream factory. It is on the outskirts of Rahat, a Bedouin city of more than 50,000 people. Those people will be the Israeli Arabs who will take the jobs that the BDS movement has, through its unfathomable actions, worked to take away for Palestinian Arabs.

    Good job, BDS! Keep it up and you will totally trash the economy of those you purport to want to help. But most of us know that your aims are not to help Palestinians (unless as a collateral result of attacking Jews).

  • steven L

    The pro-BDS bastards want to force closure of factories hiring Palestinians to purposely increase the economic hardship among the Palestinians and then claim that it is the fault of IL.

  • Mike P.

    Audrey,

    Israel recycles 80% of its water, Spain is #2 in the world and recycles only 20%.

    Israel made geothermal power economical outside of volcanic zones, thanks to Ormat.

    Israel has built several of the world’s largest solar power plants (in the Mohave) through Luz and Bright Source.

    Israeli technology now promises to greatly reduce produce spoilage (several companies) and to greatly increase crop yields (Kaima) and has greatly reduced irrigation requirements (drip irrigation) and has led the way in natural pest control methods.

    Israel has the best greenhouse management technologies.

    So, for any Green Party, either Israel is your favorite country in the history of the universe, and you proclaim it loudly and proudly, or you are not a true green person at all, just a green poseur.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  • BARBARA SHABO

    Professor Dershowitz has once again done a great job in pointing out the arrogance and hypocrisy of the BDS movement. Does anyone have any idea of how much funding these groups receive from CAIR, via Qatar and its protege, Hamas?
    I applaud the honesty and courage of Harvard President, Drew Faust, who stood up to these bullies!

  • Wm. J. Levy

    Let these Harvard students try that against Arabs or blacks and see what happens to them.

    They know the Jews don’t become physical and they have nothing to fear.

    That’s a shame.

  • Alan Dershowitz raises an interesting point. He asks:

    “What right does a single Harvard University entity have to join the boycott movement against Israel without full and open discussion by the entire university community, including students, faculty, alumni and administration?”

    I’m a co-chair of the Green Party of the United and also chair of its Ecoaction Committee. No committee of the national Greeen Party can issue a policy statement on its own behalf or that of the national party without the express, written consent of the national party’s Steering Committee.

    • Lynne T

      Frankly, it’s not like the Green Parties around the world are exactly pro-Israel despite the pioneering work Israel has done in the field of environmentally friendly development. In fact, the former president of the Canadian party was compelled to resign because of his pro-Israel stance.

  • Professor Dershowitz’ points are exactly right.

    The “hate-Israel” crowd is led behind the scenes by professional agitators and organizers – paid for with unending oil money.

    These anti-Israel “front men” pose as “human rights/civil rights” activists, but they are frauds. They are pro-Arab/anti-Jewish activists.

  • dikla

    I understand soda stream is relocating to the negev. All employees are welcome to continue he their employment.

  • Fred Chalfin

    How outrageous, Pres. Faust actually checked it out and based his decision on facts. How unreasonable can you get. LOL.

    • SHR

      “HER” decision!

  • Oh Thank you Dr. Faust every word you’ve said has restored humanity in a time when it is so greiviously suffering. Shalom Peace on Earth. Merry Christmas & Happier New Years!

  • Judy Folus

    A voice of reason in a world gone mad. Thank you to Mr. Drew Faust who insisted on discussion before dropping Soda Stream as a vendor. He is well educated on the subject having visited the factory and is not afraid to stand up to the BDS movement. Mr. Faust should be put on a pedestal as an example of righteousness. He is one of the few who allows pro Israeli voices to be heard in this debate.

  • sandra borr

    BDS uses the pretext of fighting for Human Rights to advance it’s true objective; the destruction of Israel. And just as Hamas, Fatah, Jordan, and Syria are the true oppressors of the pawns known as “Palestinians” BDS (Belittle, Delegitimize, and Slander) cares little for these wretched people. Thanks for the excellent oped, Alan, and Happy Hanukkah to all!

  • Saba

    Excellent piece…

  • This article is right but it would have been much righter in the voice of Harvard´s President himself.

  • jonathan

    With SodaStream’s moving production from the West Bank, BDS announced the boycott would continue because that zone is complicit in Israeli oppression of the Bedouin. Issue: Harvard is locating in the same zone in a partnership with Ben Gurion University – designed in part to appeal to Bedouin. So Harvard would be in the odd position of boycotting a company located with them in Israel.

  • Caryl

    I couldn’t be happier to hear of this intelligent decision by Harvard President Faust. This shows the bigotry of those who would have this company boycotted. What will it take for the World to clearly see what is going on?
    I would personally expel any student who protested and caused such headache for nothing. I hope this is getting the press it deserves in the USA.
    Happy Hanukkah and G_d Bless America and Israel.

  • Moishe Levin

    Does Dershie mean the US and NATO are wrong in boycotting/sanctioning the Russian government of Putin? Of course he doesn’t, why should he, he’s not fair and he’s not balanced. The economic boycott against Russia is Israel supported and ol’ Dershie is covered with fleas. He’s emeritus now, deservedly so, he’s lost his mind and is now insane.

    • Lost in the intellectual wilderness are you?

  • harry sealfon

    This is one of the best written opinions and well thought out decisions I have ever read I congratulate Harvard for researching this issue thoroughly.

  • Antisemitism is now a required character trait to be admitted to Harvard.

  • stella

    Dean Faust should be commended – and this decision should go viral

Algemeiner.com