A Divestment Campaign We Can Endorse

Editorial

getty images

Published May 09, 2014, issue of May 16, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

As 2014 opened, Todd Gitlin, a Columbia University professor and writer, predicted in the Forward that college campuses would become a battleground for activists seeking to stop or stem climate change. “To go out on a limb,” he wrote, “there’s a fighting chance that this campaign will force fossil-fuel divestment at one (at least) major institution of higher learning.”

Gitlin called it.

On the same day that the National Climate Assessment report was released, painting a shocking picture of how climate change is affecting our environment right now, Stanford University announced that its $18 billion-plus endowment will no longer make any direct investment in coal companies. As the 12th and most prestigious university to pledge this kind of divestment, Stanford gave a tremendous boost to a nationwide campaign to persuade colleges, cities and other institutions to withhold their funds from companies whose products dangerously pollute and destroy the environment.

This is a divestment campaign we can get behind. This is the kind of divestment campaign Jewish institutions should embrace.

As The Washington Post reported, the divestment movement so far has convinced Seattle, San Francisco, Portland and other cities to shed fossil-fuel firms. Joining Stanford are the College of the Atlantic, Foothill-De Anza Community College District, Green Mountain College, Hampshire College, Naropa University, Peralta Community College District, Pitzer College, Prescott College, San Francisco State University, Sterling College and Unity College.

We’d like to see Brandeis University on that list. And Yeshiva University, Touro College, the rabbinic seminaries and other Jewish institutions of higher learning. Not to mention foundations and large charitable groups with sizable endowments.

An added incentive is financial: Some coal-burning utilities are struggling on Wall Street, and may face tougher regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency on carbon dioxide emissions.

But the more pressing imperative is to slow down the climate changes that now demonstrably lead to extreme weather conditions, compromised animal habitats, property loss and even death. Lessening our dependence on fossil fuels also strengthens America’s foreign standing, making us less vulnerable to Russian and Middle East despots. That’s a powerful reason for the Jewish community to become more engaged, as if protecting the environment weren’t enough.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.