Stanford Faculty Statement Opposing Divestment from Israel

  • by: Larry Diamond
  • target: Stanford University APIRL and Board of Trustees

1. Israel should not be singled out for condemnation in a complex and decades-long conflict.
2. Proposals to divest from Israel undermine moderates in Israel and Palestine and complicate the quest for a just, negotiated solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
3. We are deeply concerned about the polarizing effect of divestment on the University community.

March 4, 2015

At the February 19, 2015 Stanford Faculty Senate meeting President John Hennessy issued a statement regarding recent campus debates and the student senate vote on divestment from Israel. Most startling was his observation that “in the nearly 15 years that I have been president, and my 30 years here as a faculty member, I have never seen a topic that has been more divisive within the university community.”

The undersigned faculty shares the same impression and this distresses us greatly. And it is precisely the single-minded ferocity of this recent campaign, its inability to take in the larger tableaux of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict when focusing on one aspect of the dilemma that unsettles us still more than the student senate resolution it produced.

We share a wide range of views regarding Israel and Palestine, the Gaza war, the wisdom of current Israeli policy, and the efficacy of divestment as a political strategy.  Included below are the signatures of faculty long engaged in peace efforts in Israel and Palestine, and many who have championed divestment as a strategy for addressing the environmental dangers of coal burning or, in years past, apartheid South Africa.

How to explain our discomfort with the singularly focused efforts leveled against Israel culminating in the student senate vote, a discomfort so acute that we have chosen to protest a student initiative? This might appear all the more discordant since the resolution’s final text, amended at the last moment after a contrary vote the previous week, is worded so as to avoid the sort of overarching condemnations of Israel that played so prominent a role in the effort culminating in the vote.

We do so because as we see it the campaign itself cannot be separated from the resolution, its intensity fueled not by disdain for Caterpillar or other companies cited in the resolution but by a one-sided condemnation of Israel. It is this campaign - and its capacity to focus campus-wide attention on Israel as a site of unprecedented oppression - that was as much, if not more so, the goal than the resolution itself.  Its immediate impact, coupled with the divestment successes achieved recently on campuses elsewhere, will likely strengthen those forces in Israel inimical to Palestinian rights in the weeks before the upcoming Israeli March election. It will help ensure that Israelis feel ever more isolated, thus undermining those in Israel and Palestine best capable of moving in the direction of peace.  

The achievement of peace has been achingly slow, thwarted repeatedly -- as many of us see it -- by forces on both sides. If peace has a chance to succeed with the emergence of a workable democracy for Palestinians as well as Israelis, Jews and non-Jews, one-sided broadsides directed at Israel are certain to be more useless now than ever. Demanded is flexibility on all sides, a capacity to see beyond past wrongs however bruising, a willingness to look forwards -- not always and ever-suspiciously -- backwards. 

The goal of our campus’ recent anti-Israel campaign wasn’t to open up discussion on these complex matters but to dictate simple, outright excoriation. In this respect divestment was less its goal than a tactic, a deceptively benign way to bring to fruition an anti-Israel resolution. Hence, the repeated reference in programs leading up to the vote linking Israel with the Ferguson tragedy, one of many efforts at collapsing Israel into whatever catastrophe felt pertinent, and readily accessible.


Israel deserves to be treated -- much like nearly all other states -- as a state worthy of criticism; the onslaught unleashed at Stanford suggests something far more overarching in its reach. There is real, overt and systematically murderous racism in the same part of the world in which Israel exists. This is leveled against Kurds, Yazidis, Copts, other Christians, Jews and both Shia and Sunni Moslems. We appreciate that human rights issues are often subjective.  It’s impossible to take in all of humanity’s woes, and inevitably some will loom larger than others. But in the midst of the outright terror leveled against the groups mentioned above, the horrors championed by ISIS, the genocide of hundreds of thousands in Syria, the gunning down of free speech activists on the streets of Paris and Copenhagen – and the killing of Jews in any delicatessen, school, or place of worship displaying a Jewish sign -- the simplicity of the recent Stanford campaign feels all the more off-kilter and disturbing.

Stanford is a place known for its creative intelligence, its agility in wrestling with the most intractable problems. Let’s work toward recasting what has been in the last several months a singularly contentious campaign that has done little more than pitting one side of a longstanding geo-political dispute against the other.  What we face here is a situation where neither side is altogether right or wrong but what is wrong is to seek to so besmirch one side of the dispute as to render its arguments mute, and irrelevant. 


Anat Admati

George G.C. Parker Professor

Graduate School of Business


Kenneth J. Arrow

Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor of Operations Research, Emeritus


Joseph Bankman,

Ralph M. Parsons Professor of Law and Business

Law School


Jonathan Bendor

Walter and Elise Haas Professor of Political Economy

Graduate School of Business


Jonathan Berger

Denning Family Provostial Professor of Music


Joseph Berger

Professor of Sociology, Emeritus


Jonathan Berk

A.P. Giannini Professor in Finance

Graduate School of Business


Russell Berman

Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities

Professor of Comparative Literature


S. David Brazer

Associate Professor (Teaching) and Director, Leadership Degree Programs

Graduate School of Education


Martin Breidenbach

Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics



Paul Brest

Professor of Law, Emeritus


Martin Carnoy

Vida Jacks Professor of Education


Katrin F. Chua,

Associate Professor of Medicine


G. Marcus Cole

The Wm. Benjamin Scott & Luna M. Scott Professor of Law

Stanford Law School


Ed Colloff
Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine

David M. Cornfield

Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine 


Robert Daines

Pritzker Professor of Law and Business

Law School


Terry S. Desser

Associate Professor of Radiology


Larry Diamond

Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution & Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies


Jonathan Dorfan

Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, Emeritus



Thomas Ehrlich

Visiting Professor of Education


Dan Eisenberg

Associate Professor of Surgery


Amir Eshel

Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies

Director, Department of Comparative Literature  

Department of German Studies


David Feldman

Professor of Medicine Emeritus


Marcus W. Feldman

Burnet C. and Mildred Finley Wohlford Professor of Biological Sciences


S. Shirley Feldman

Senior Research Scientist in Psychiatry

Retired Associate Director, Program in Human Biology


John Felstiner

Professor of English Emeritus


Morris P. Fiorina

Wendt Family Professor of Political Science
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution


Nancy J. Fischbein, MD

Professor of Radiology


Shelley Fisher Fishkin 
Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, 

Director of American Studies, Stanford University 


Lazar Fleishman

Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature




Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert

Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Affiliated faculty, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies; CCSRE
Director, Taube Center for Jewish Studies


Michael Fredericson

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery


Grisha Freidin, Professor Emeritus

Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Emeritus


Barbara H. Fried
William W. and Gertrude H. Saunders Professor of Law


Lawrence M. Friedman

Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor

Stanford Law School


Judith Frydman

Professor of Biology and of Genetics


Francis Fukuyama
Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow
Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies


Susan Galel

Associate Professor of Pathology, Emerita


Edith Gelles
Clayman Institute for Gender Research


Ronald J. Gilson
Meyers Professor of Law and Business

Law School


Claude Goldenberg

Professor of Education


Judith Goldstein

Professor of Political Science


Stuart B. Goodman

Robert  L. and Mary Ellenburg Professor of Surgery,
Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and (by courtesy) Bioengineering


Or Gozani

Associate Professor of Biology



Mark Granovetter

Professor of Sociology


Avner Greif

The Bowman Family Professor in Humanities and Sciences

Department of Economics

Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

& Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research


F. Carl Grumet

Professor of Pathology, Emeritus


Joseph A. Grundfest
William A. Franke Professor of Law and Business
Stanford Law School 


Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht

Albert Guerard Professor in Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature

Robert E. Hall

Robert and Carole McNeil Professor of Economics

Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution


Robert K. Jackler, MD
Sewall Professor and Chair
Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery
School of Medicine


Katherine R. Jolluck

Senior Lecturer, Department of History


Michael Kahan

Lecture, Program On Urban Studies


Michael J. Kaplan

Professor, Head and Neck Surgery
Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery


Ari Y. Kelman

Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies

Graduate School of Education


Amalia D. Kessler

Lewis Talbot and Nadine Hearn Shelton
Professor of International Legal Studies
Stanford Law School


Michael Klausner
Nancy and Charles Munger Professor of Business and 
Professor of Law


Matthew Kohrman

Associate Professor of Anthropology


Roger Kornberg

Mrs. George A. Winzer Professor in Medicine

Department of Structural Biology


Jeffrey R. Koseff
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Elliot Krane

Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine

Stanford University Medical Center


Stephen D. Krasner

Graham H. Stuart Professor of International Relations, Stanford University

Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute

Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution


Josh Lehrer-Graiwer

Adjunct Clinical Instructor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology


Jonathan Levav

Associate Professor of Marketing

Graduate School of Business


Josh Levin

Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery


Michael Levitt

Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor in Cancer Research

School of Medicine


Raymond E. Levitt

Kumagai Professor of Engineering

Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering


Ronald Levy

Professor of Medicine

Director of the Lymphoma Program 

Stanford Medical School


Shoshana Levy

Professor (Research) of Medicine (Oncology)


Jafi A. Lipson

Assistant Professor of Radiology

School of Medicine




Ira Lit

Associate Professor (Teaching)

Stanford Graduate School of Education


David W. Lowenberg, MD
Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Chief, Orthopaedic Trauma Service


Lawrence Marshall

Professor of Law


Michael W. McConnell

Richard & Frances Mallery Professor, Stanford Law School

Director, Stanford Constitutional Law Center


David Mills

Professor of the Practice and Senior Lecturer in Law

Terry M. Moe

Professor of Political Science


Stephen Monismith

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Alison Morantz

Professor of Law


Ian Morris

Jean and Rebecca Willard Professor in Classics


Bryan D. Myers

Professor of Medicine (Nephrology), Emeritus


Norman Naimark

Robert & Florence McDonnell Professor of E. European Studies

Department of History


Nathaniel Persily

James B. McClatchy Professor

Law School


Denise Pope

Senior Lecturer

Graduate School of Education


Ralph Rabkin

Emeritus Professor of Medicine/Nephrology 


Jack Rakove

Coe Professor of History and American Studies

and Professor of Political Science


Lawrence Recht

Professor of Neurology 


Deborah L. Rhode

Director, Center on the Legal Profession

E.W. McFarland Professor of Law


Richard Roberts

Frances and Charles Field Professor of History


Aaron Rodrigue

Charles Michael Professor in Jewish History and Culture


Myer H. Rosenthal

Professor (Clinical) of Anesthesia, Medicine, and Surgery, Emeritus


Aaron Roodman
Professor of Particle Physics & Astrophysics



Myer H. Rosenthal

Professor (Clinical) of Anesthesia, Medicine, and Surgery, Emeritus


Janice Ross

Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies


Alvin Roth

Craig and Susan McCaw Professor of Economics

Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research


Gabriella Safran,

Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures


Tamar Schapiro

Associate Professor of Philosophy


Mark Schnitzer

Associate Professor of Biology and of Applied Physics


Yoav Shoham

Professor of Computer Science


Robert D. Simoni

Donald Kennedy Professor of Humanities and Sciences
Department of Biology


David Spiegel

Willson Professor & Associate Chair

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences


Peter Stansky

Frances and Charles Field Professor of History, Emeritus


Lawrence Steinman

George A. Zimmerman Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences


Myra Strober

Professor of Education, Emerita


Jeffrey D. Ullman

Professor of Computer Science, Emeritus

Irene Wapnir

Professor of Surgery


John Willinsky

Khosla Family Professor of Education


Sam Wineburg
Margaret Jacks Professor of Education

Carol Winograd

Associate Professor of Medicine, Emerita


Terry Winograd

Professor of Computer Science, Emeritus


Adam de la Zerda

Assistant Professor of Structural Biology

School of Medicine


Steven J. Zipperstein

Daniel E. Koshland Professor in Jewish Culture and History

Department of History 





Margaret Weissbluth

Stanford resident, spouse of late faculty member














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