President Lee Bollinger’s Statement on the Divestment Campaign
November 07, 2002 http://www.columbiadivest.org/pres_statement.html
Columbia University Statement on Divestment from Israel
The conflict in the Middle East continues to be the subject of intense and emotional debate around the world and on university campuses. Recently, some Columbia and Barnard faculty formed a committee and launched a petition campaign demanding that Columbia University divest from all companies that produce or sell arms or other military hardware to Israel.
There are procedures established at Columbia for considering proposals of this sort. Anyone can submit a proposal to the University’s Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing for resolution.
As President of Columbia, however, I want to state clearly that I will not lend any support to this proposal. The petition alleges human rights abuses and compares Israel to South Africa at the time of apartheid, an analogy I believe is both grotesque and offensive.
It is equally clear to me that a rigorous and open debate about the issues in the Middle East- and, in particular, about the policies of the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership-is not only appropriate but also essential to life in an academic institution. Every member of our community is free to express his or her opinion or views on all aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or any other issue. Political debate should, and will, flourish at Columbia.
Lee C. Bollinger President
Last Updated: February 17, 2003 Columbia/Barnard Faculty Committee on Divestment