More than 3,200 members of the Harvard-MIT communities--78 members of the MIT faculty, 283 members of the Harvard faculty, 191 staff, 970 students and 1,723 alumni from the two institutions--have signed a new petition opposing divestment from Israel and "the misguided divestment petition calling for punitive actions by the U.S. government and our universities against the State of Israel."
Two weeks ago, the pro-divestment petition urging respect for "the human rights of Palestinians" was initiated. As of May 12, it had been signed by 443 people--53 members of the MIT faculty, 65 members of the Harvard faculty, 178 students, 63 staff members and 84 alumni from Harvard and MIT--according to its organizers.
MIT and Harvard have made no official comments on the two petitions, which have yet to be presented to the governing bodies of the universities.
The "HarvardMITJustice.org Petition to Oppose Divestment from Israel" states that its group has diverse opinions on how peace in the Middle East can be achieved, and widely differing views of the current government's policies.
"We are unanimous, however, in our condemnation" of the pro-divestment petition "as a one-sided attempt to delegitimize Israel."
Daniel Jackson and David R. Karger, associate professors of electrical engineering and computer science, said the petition, which was posted Friday on the Internet, was drafted by Harvard and MIT faculty members working with staff and students.
The new petition states that Israel has a right to exist free from terror, and that it is unjust to place blame solely on Israel for the recent state of affairs.
"Reasonable people should work for a peacefully negotiated solution, and not single out Israel for partisan attack. The divestment petition does not support peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians--indeed, the word 'peace' does not even appear in it; it does not support the citizens of Israel in the face of an endless stream of suicide bombings; it does not offer aid to Palestinians who have lost property and dignity in the conflict ..." the petition states.
The petition appealed to colleagues who signed the earlier petition to reconsider their action. It called on Harvard and MIT to deny the demands of the divestment petition.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 15, 2002.