Dec 19 2014
The Harvard University Dining Service has been rebuffed in its efforts to join the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement against Israel.
Harvard University Dining Services’ decision to stop buying Israeli-made soda machines and water fountains used at the school’s cafeteria, due to ongoing controversy between Israel and Palestine, was overturned by the administration this week.
Boston Magazine “Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy,” Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber said in a statement sent to Boston. “If this policy is not currently known or understood in some parts of the University, that will be rectified now.”
It all started last spring when HUDS officials agreed to stop buying products from a company recently acquired by “SodaStream,” whose factory operations are housed in the West Bank, a piece of Israeli land that is home to millions of Palestinians and the center of ongoing conflict. That decision, which was discovered only yesterday by Garber and university President Drew Faust, after The Crimson published an article online, was out of bounds, according to the administration.
J Post A group of radical anti-Israel Harvard students and faculty had persuaded the dining service to boycott SodaStream, an Israeli company that manufactures soda machines that produce a product that is both healthy and economical. Harvard President Drew Faust said he has visited the SodaStream factory and spoken to many of its Palestinian-Arab employees, who love working for a company that pays them high wages and manufactures excellent working conditions. I saw Jews and Muslims, Israeli and Palestinians, working together and producing this excellent product.
The students and faculty who sought the boycott of SodaStream invoked human rights. But it is they who are causing the firing of more than 500 Palestinian workers who would like to continue to earn a living at SodaStream. As a result of misguided boycotts, such as the one unilaterally adopted by the Harvard University Dining Services, SodaStream has been forced to move its factory to an area in Israel where few, if any, Arabs can be employed. This is not a victory for human rights. It is a victory for human wrongs.
I have no doubt that some students and other members of the Harvard community may be offended by the presence of SodaStream machines. Let them show their displeasure by not using the machines instead of preventing others who are not offended from obtaining their health benefits. Many students are also offended by their removal. Why should the views of the former prevail over those of the latter?
I’m sure that some students are offended by any products made in Israel, just as some are offended by products made in Arab or Muslim countries that oppress gays, Christians and women. Why should the Harvard University Dining Service — or a few handfuls of students and professors — get to decide whose feelings of being offended count and whose don’t?