Six Nobel Laureates, Connected with Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and Elie Wiesel Counter Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky’s Statements on Israel Divestment Issue at UC Berkeley

  • 0

For Immediate Release:

Los Angeles: April 15, 2010 Contact: Samuel Edelman, Executive Director, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, 530-570-8137, [email protected] ; Peter Haas, President SPME, [email protected] or Edward S. Beck, Past President, [email protected] 717.576.5038

As the debate on whether or not to divest from Israel discussed by the student senate at University of California, Berkeley moved toward conclusion six Nobel Laureates connected to Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a seventh Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel who independently wrote to the senate arguing in opposition to divestment support advocated by Desmond Tutu.

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East represent more than 55,000 academics and scholars on more than 3500 campuses world-wide. SPME opposes boycotts and attempts to divest from Israel as they are forms of the ongoing attempt to demonize Israel. This student legislation rather than fostering dialogue and trust that might lead the Israelis and the Palestinians toward peaceful negotiations only has created an atmosphere of division and distrust. Moreover the one sided nature of the legislation is clearly a cause for concern as pointed out by Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Laureate in Economics, Stanford University.

Peter Haas, SPME’s President commented: “The situation at UC-Berkeley did not have to reach this level. Had the university administration taken a more principled solid stance against one-sided anti-Israel activity earlier, they could have saved themselves and everyone else a lot of trouble. We hope the lesson has been learned.”

Edward S. Beck, SPME’s Immediate Past President who coordinated the effort for SPME, added, “ It was important that students hear from these Nobel Laureates on this important issue who know and believe that the situation in the Middle East is not comparable to the situation in South Africa and are aware of the real issues and history of the region.

Sam Edelman, SPME’s Executive Director worked with UC Faculty during this effort and observed: “The one sided nature of this resolution; the ignoring of massive human rights violations on the part of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas make it imperative that the AS President’s veto be up held.”

The full texts of the Nobel Laureates letters are as follows:

Dear Members of the University of California- Berkeley Student Senate:

May I respectfully urge that you not adopt the one-sided and unjust resolution which condemns the state of Israel and urges divestment. The resolution ignores that Israel is a democratic state, respecting the political and civil rights of its Arab minority. Above all, it exists in an environment in which its very existence has been threatened ever since its inception. Proposals and negotiations which would have led to Palestinian independence have always been rejected by the Palestinians from the 1968 “three nos of Khartoum” to Yasser Arafat’s refusal to accept President Clinton’s very favorable proposals, a refusal followed by a campaign of pure terrorism, directed against vulnerable civilians, called, “the second intifada.” A withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Gaza, enforced by the authority of the state of Israel, was followed, not by renewed efforts at negotiation or even by quiescence, but by a steady barrage of rockets against unquestionably Israeli towns.

The world is full of states with abominable records on human rights, including most of Israel’s neighbors. A failure to mention Saudi Arabia, for example, must be regarded as approval for discriminatory treatment of women (they cannot even drive!) and, of course, of homosexuals. Hamas, in Gaza, has not only consistently inflicted whatever harm it can against Israel but has bloodily suppressed Arab political opposition within its boundaries. Israel’s independent judiciary has no counterpart in the area.

I trust you will reconsider your original vote and uphold the veto.

Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely yours,

Kenneth J. Arrow
Stanford University
Nobel Laureate in Economic Science, 1972.

Dear Members of the University of California- Berkeley Student Senate:

We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, urge the members of the UC Berkeley student senate not to adopt an immoral resolution singling out the state of Israel, a liberal and democratic state seeking peace with the Palestinian people and neighboring Arab states, for condemnation and divestment.

We commend your idealism and desire to provide leadership to the university; but true moral leadership requires taking responsibility, accessing knowledge and making correct, not ideological and radicalized, choices. The resolution before you is wrong in many points of fact and it is unjust by intention: Israel is an imperfect democracy defending itself in a threat environment by Western standards of warfare and checking itself constantly by way of a fiercely independent judiciary committed to international standards of human rights.

A decision by the Berkeley Senate to single out Israel for condemnation, rather than any of the myriad real human rights offenders in the world – including the majority of contentious states surrounding Israel such as Iran, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon is frankly a decision of the highest moral obtuseness, which we trust you will not pursue.

It is our hope that the UC-Berkeley Student Senate who represent future leadership in the world will find a more constructive and effective way – but primarily a moral and just way – to address the difficult and complex issues of Middle East peace rather than siding against one side in the conflict. In no way can your resolution advance peace, as it is an expression of the very radicalism and historical blindness that drives the conflict and blocks reconciliation.

We have faith in your ability to rise to the occasion and shed light instead of hatred on this most difficult issue. Please defeat this wrong resolution.

Roald Hoffmann
Nobel Prize-Chemistry, 1981
Cornell University

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
Nobel Prize-Physics, 1997
College de France Paris

Dudley Herschbach
Nobel Prize- Chemistry, 1986
Harvard University

Dr. Andrew V. Schally
Miami, Florida
Nobel Prize in Medicine 1977

Steven Weinberg
University of Texas
Nobel Prize-Physics, 1979

Six Nobel Laureates, Connected with Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and Elie Wiesel Counter Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky’s Statements on Israel Divestment Issue at UC Berkeley

  • 0
Skip to toolbar