Over the past few months with the dramatic escalation of Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people (ethnic cleansing) in the Occupied territories the campaign to divest from Israel has gained increasing support. Although the massive human rights violations, mass roundups, detentions, torture, summary executions, the demolition of Palestinian homes, civil institutions, and medical facilities is virtually ignored by the US media enough has leaked through by way of the foreign press, internet sites, and reports of human rights groups that at least a small fraction of the American public has begun to catch on.
The divestment campaign at Harvard is among those now underway as part of a grassroots movement to put an end to the atrocities. With the announcement of the Harvard divestment campaign came the usual outcries from the Israeli lobby, and arm of the Israeli government which acts to block by all means at its disposal (including the shooting of reporters) to keep the truth from coming out. In response to this pressure Harvard President Summers felt obliged to issue a statement defending the use of Israeli force (although crimes against humanity or war crimes, viz., torture, civilian assassinations, and deprivation of basic human rights are specifically prohibited under international law). Harvard instead directly funds companies that make the Israeli atrocities possible and under international law this itself is a war crime (e.g., Principle VII, Nuremberg Tribunal, adopted by the UN in 1950).
In response to this noted International Law authority and Harvard alumnus Francis Boyle wrote a letter President Summers in which he stated “Israel has no right to commit war crimes in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907...it appears from it that you have at least implicitly given a blanket endorsement to Israeli war crimes” and asks Summers to clarify his position if this were not his intent (see full text here: http://www.divest-from-israel-campaign.org/boyleharvard.html
). Summers has not responded leaving his initial remarks to stand and the funding of Israeli violations of international law to continue.
Although it seems unlikely to happen under the present circumstances the divestment campaign and Boyle’s letter removes any shred of ‘plausible deniability” (viz., we didn’t know what was going on) from the technical case that implicates Summer himself, as well as the Trustees or other officers of Harvard as complicit and thereby themselves prosecutable for these crimes under international law as well. As the truth slowly reaches the American public about what is really going on in the Occupied Territories the horror of this complicity becomes clearer by the day. All of us that receive or pay funds to institutions whether universities or other business enterprises that support these human rights violations are also complicit. If there is a divestment campaign where you go to school, or teach, or work join it. If there isn’t one yet, start one. For discussion of ongoing campaigns visit Divest from Israel Campaign (http://www.divest-from-israel-campaign.org