Columbia University’s So Called “Divestment”

April 7, 2005

Anti-Israel professors at Columbia University are urging their university “to divest its holdings in companies that sell military equipment to Israel”.

While the resolution has not yet passed there is concern that it will. Indeed we may assume the university would be happier if all the companies’ investors divested. For that would supposedly teach the targeted company– and a great many others – that it does not pay to trade with Israel.

Nevertheless, how ethical is it to offload its “tainted” holdings to another investor who shouldn’t, in their view, be supporting the targeted company anyhow? Sure smacks of befuddled thinking if not shady ethics from the Columbia professors. Even hypocritical, wouldn’t you say?

Still Israel should not be worried about the kind of divestment Columbia professors are promoting, for in financial terms this is a nothing activity.

What would the university gain/lose if it sold its holdings? Depends on selling at a profit or loss.

What would the companies lose?
Nothing.

What would Israel lose? Nothing.

Will the University sell actually sell the holdings in question for this specific reason? Highly doubtful. They’re not that stupid.

So what’s it all about?

It’s nothing more than a deceitful PR trick by certain professors to gain media publicity for their anti-Semitic prejudices.

I wish they would sell. Israel would gain because Columbia’s anti-Israeli voice would not be heard at annual meetings of shareholders. The inimical university would have been replaced by a friendly or at least neutral investor.

So where lies the danger of divestment to Israel? It is not in divestment which, as analyzed, is a nothing activity – but purely in the accompanying PR hoopla. Because the smart, devious professors know that divestment makes a good PR story. One the media will pounce on and which will lead to a new round of Israel bashing. The question is, why should the university and the media fall for the professors’ sick joke?

Of course the regular anti-Israel media (the NY Times, LA Times, BBC and The Guardian are good examples) can be depended on to use the opportunity – to knock more nails in Israel’s coffin – despite the divestment story being a strictly non-event.

   April 7, 2005

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