Letter to the editor: UVM makes right call by tabling divestment proposition

Dear editor, Last week a proposition for the University of Vermont to divest from companies that benefit from Israel’s “war crimes” and “occupation” of Palestine was tabled.  On April 1,, in an opinion column in the Washington Post, Judge Goldstone, who headed the investigation of the 2008-2009 Israeli offensive into Gaza known as Operation Cast Lead, expressed regret over his damning and inaccurate condemnation of Israel in the report which he submitted to the U.N. known as the Goldstone Report. Judge Goldstone wrote in his Washington Post Op-Ed, “The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion.”  If you read between the lines, what Goldstone is saying is that Israel was found guilty of war crimes based on no evidence – in essence, Israel was found guilty until proven guilty. Goldstone’s retraction of his damning report is a huge victory, not for those who are pro-Israel, but for those who are pro-truth and pro-justice.  This retraction is by no means any reason for the pro-Israel camp to gloat.  All the retraction shows is that Israel is now guilty until proven innocent. We all know that in our western judicial system we hold everyone innocent until proven guilty, that is simply the only just and moral way to conduct an investigation and a trial.  By tabling the proposal to divest from companies which benefit Israel, the University of Vermont took a stand for justice by refusing, unlike the U.N., to find Israel guilty until proven guilty. Many of the arguments used against Israel by the pro-Palestinian factions on campus, such as the allegation that Israel deliberately targeted civilians during Operation Cast Lead, are based on the findings of the United Nations Human Rights Watch (UNHRW), and the Goldstone Report.  These findings have been delegitimized by Judge Goldstone himself who calls the UNHRW “skewed against Israel” and says its “history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.”  It is my sincerest hope that if Judge Goldstone can be swayed by the emergence of the truth to change his stance toward Israel, then the groups on and off of UVM which until now have held Israel guilty until proven guilty, can change their stance too. We here at UVM, regardless of which side we take on the Israel-Palestine conflict, can all agree on one thing: We want peace.  To achieve this end what’s needed is an unbiased outlook, an appreciation for the facts, and the proper view of “innocent until proven guilty,” along with a sincere and open dialogue, and not baseless and unswayable hatred for either side.    Jeremiah Rozman             Class of 2014