The divestment campaign is aimed at ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands

Jan. 28, 2015, 9:18 p.m.

To the editor:

Like my friend and colleague Professor Steven Zipperstein, I write “as a faculty member implacably opposed to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.” The occupation of the West Bank (and the Gaza Strip, which according to the criteria of international law relating to belligerent occupation remains effectively occupied by Israel) should be ended posthaste – first and foremost because the Palestinian people have a right to national self-determination. Continuing the occupation also corrupts Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora. Professor Zipperstein didn’t put it exactly that way in his January 26 letter to the Daily.  But our views on this are not far apart.

Beginning from these shared premises, Professor Zipperstein chose to make a statement opposing the campaign for Stanford to divest from corporations that profit from the occupation. Moreover, he did so in terms that obscure the objectives of the campaign led by Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine. That campaign has nothing to do with “seduc[ing] supporters by collapsing suspicions of dubious multi-national corporate activities into the Palestine-Israel mix,” as he wrote.

The objectives of the divestment campaign, which is inspired by a call issued in 2005 by over 150 Palestinian civil society organizations, are: ending Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and dismantling the separation barrier it has built, largely in the West Bank; achieving full equality for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel; and upholding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel (my view is that while recognition of this right is imperative, its implementation should be flexible).

Twenty-five years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations mediated by the United States have only further entrenched the occupation. Professor Zipperstein and I agree that armed violence will not end the occupation. Divestment is a nonviolent strategy to end the occupation. Those who oppose the occupation and oppose divestment have an obligation to propose what they believe would be a more efficacious strategy.


Joel Beinin, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Stanford University

Contact Joel Beinin at beinin ‘at’

Login or create an account