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February 27, 2009

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 27, 2009 Pro-Palestinian students, college debate divestment claim Photo Power Against Empire/Creative Commons Hampshire College students were among the protesters at an anti-Israel rally featuring students from several area campuses on Jan. 10, 2009 in Amherst, Mass. come the first U.S. institution of higher learning to divest from Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians. The group also distributed an online press kit with endorsements from several prominent Israel critics, several of which men- tion the group's successful campaign for "divestment from financial ties with Israel." Dershowitz, who has played a lead role in defending Israel in a series of campus battles across the country, has responded with calls for divestment from Hampshire College. School officials, mean- while, are scrambling to put out the word that both sides have it wrong. They say the Feb. 7 decision by the board of trustees to divest from a market index fund was prompted by concerns raised by the pro-Palestinian student group, but the move ultimately had nothing to do with Israel. At issue is whether pro- By Ben Harris NEWYORK (JTA)--Hamp- shire College insists it has not divested from Israel, but try telling that to pro-Palestinian students at the liberal arts school in Massachusetts or Israel defender Alan Der- showitz. Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group at Hampshire, issued a state- ment last week claiming victory in its campaign to convince the school to be- Taxes and laws are ever-changing. Is your financial advisor up-to-date? Is your money earning up to its potential? We are a group of finandal professionals with years of extensive experience in wealth preservation, product independent advice, financial and risk management, income producing strategies, retirement planning, and tax management*. 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The cam- paign has generated some headlines but produced no major victories. In an interview Feb. 17 with JTA, Hampshire's presi- dent, Ralph Hexter, said the final decision to divest from certain companies was not aimed at Israel and criticized the pro-Palestinian students for suggesting otherwise. "I think they crossed the line of appropriate behavior," Hexter said. "I think they were attempting to speak for the college." What's not in dispute is that the decision followed a lengthy campaign by the pro-Palestinian students that focused on six companies deemed to be supporting or profiting from Israel's oc- cupation of the Palestinian territories. The student group targeted United Technologies, Caterpillar, Motorola, Terex, ITT and General Electric. According to Students for Justice in Palestine, it made presentations to both the school's investment respon- sibility subcommittee and the full board of trustees in May, after which the subcommit- tee recommended divestment from the six companies. Hexter maintains, how- ever, that when the recom- mendation came before the full investment committee, it was decided to undertake a broader screen of one of the college's investment funds. The screen, performed by KLD Research & Analytics, found that the school was invested in more than 200 companies that violated prin- ciples of socially responsible investing, including several flagged by the students. According to the school, however, the screen did not involve any criteria relat- ing to Israel. Instead, KLD evaluated issues relating to military weapons, employee discrimination, environmen- tal concerns and employee safety, and also examined companies' operations in two countries, Sudan and Myanmar. What's more, two of the companies named by Stu- dents for Justice in Pales- tine--Motorola and Ter- ex--passed KLD's screen, according to the college. A third company, United Tech- nologies, was not screened because it was not part of the fund at the time. Hexter, insisting that the decision was not a divestment from Israel specifically, noted that the school maintains its investments in Israeli firms. "The one thing that was quite clear in the investment committee from the startwas that it was unacceptable for members to focus a decision on one area, and let me say specifically, on Israel," said Hexter, who is on record op- posing divestment from Israel. Students for Justice in Palestine continues to dis- pute the college's version of events, claiming that "the Palestine-Israel conflict was the most prominent reason behind divestment." In a statement posted to its Web site, the group also says the administration sought its advice about which compa- nies to avoid--a claim firmly denied by Hexter. "SJP is disappointed that the college is choosing to shy away from the political impli- cations of its action rather than embrace this moment," the group said. "Regardless, a week ago Hampshire College was invested in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. To- day, the college is no longer complicit in the funding of this injustice." Ironically, Dershowitz--a Harvard Law School pro- fessor, an outspoken critic of divestment efforts and the parent of a Hampshire alumni--echoed the senti- ments of Students for Justice in Palestine in accusing the college administration of not fully owning up to what it had done. "Neither side is being forthright," Dershowitz told JTA. "The students are over- stating what happened and the administration is under- stating what happened." Dershowitz is urging di- vestment from Hampshire, calling it the "No. 1" college in the United States deserving of divestment because of this episode and its tolerance for an atmosphere of hostility to the Jewish state that is "poi- son" for pro-Israel students. Dershowitz further accused the school of issuing a"phony clarification" and trying to be all things to all people. "They were looking for an excuse to sell the six compa- nies without just selling the six companies," he said. Raisin hell: Fruit finds bug rabbis By Josh Lipowsky New Jersey Jewish Standard Raisins may have be- come the latest fruit to fall victim to an infestation of insects, prompting a New York kashrut agency to warn its constituents against con- suming the dried fruits. Rabbi Moses Edelstein, kashrut administrator at Washington Heights-based Khal Adath Jeshurun, told The Jewish Standard that the organization's inspec- tors had discovered thrips, mites, and fruitflies--rang- ing from the larvae stage to full grown--imbedded within individual raisins. KAJ issued the warning two weeks ago after receiving reports about the bugs. On Feb. 2 it convened a panel of food experts who examined various brands of packaged raisins from supermarket shelves and confirmed that they were contaminated. "The question is whether this is a fluke," Edelstein said. Until KAJ makes a de- termination on the possible infestation, it has temporar- ily ruled that the raisins may not be used. According to KAJ's advi- sory, no raisins of any brand or kashrut may be used, no matter if they would be eaten plain or used for baking. Products that have already been baked or cooked with raisins, however, may be used. "These things happen from time to time," he said. "They bring it to the attention of the rabbis, and they make a decision whether it's a prob- lem or not." The possible bug problem does not affect the grape crops that are eventually turned into raisins, Edel- stein said. The grapes sold in supermarkets, as well as those turned into wines and juices, are selected from larger batches, and damaged grapes are discarded. In the production of raisins, all grapes are used. There are two ways com- panies make raisins. The first is to dry the grapes in ovens. The second is to dry them nat- urally, while they are still on the trees. The latter method is the one that could result in infestations, because the grapes spend more time on the trees, Edelstein said. Al- lowing the grapes to remain on the vines also causes the raisins to have a darker shade, because of oxidation. KAJ's food scientists are continuing their research to determine whether a total raisin ban is necessary. That will depend on whether the infestation starts fromwithin the grape or outside, what stage the bugs are found in, how easily they can be washed off, and how long they've been in the fruits. Edelstein dismissed the notion that the infestation could be the result of where the raisins are stored at the manufacturing plants. He de- clined to name which brands were tested, but he noted that while some of them have strict quality controls, their raisins were infested as well. "In that case it had nothing to do with storage or clean- liness," he said. "We don't think that's a factor. Some suggested storing them a long time in a humid place might be a factor, but not only the factor." Two of the nation's largest kosher-certification agencies have declined to follow KAJ's lead. "We've researched it and we don't think there's a prob- lem," said Rabbi Menachem Genack, kashrut administra- tor of the Orthodox Union. Rabbi Chaim Fogelman, public relations director at the Brooklyn-based OK, said his organization's rabbis had investigated the matter and, after "extensive testing," decided that insects are not an issue for raisins. "When they're stored at the proper conditions, they do not require checking for bugs," he said. Atthe time, the O.U. issued awarning to thoroughly wash the fruits but did not call for banning the berry. Josh Lipowsky is assistant editor of The Jewish Standard.