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Just as divestment helped end apartheid, it could help bring peace to Israel

South AfricaIsraelNelson Mandela

As someone who was involved in the divestment movement against apartheid in South Africa, I read with interest the Rev. James W. Dale's recent commentary ("Choosing to stay engaged," May 4). I was appreciative of the author's recognition that the Israeli occupation is oppressive. However, the case against divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation was not made. In fact, his commentary reminded me of the arguments made against divestment of companies involved in South Africa.

It was sad to read Rev. Dale's claim that the suffering on both sides is about equal. To be frank, this is nonsense. There is a long list of oppressive measures taken against the Palestinians — home demolitions, interminable checkpoints, the Apartheid Wall, settlements, the occupation and more. There is no comparison, for example, in the numbers of Palestinians killed versus Israelis during Operation Cast Lead.

As someone who witnessed apartheid in both South Africa and occupied Palestine, I will argue vociferously that the divestment movement was the root cause which brought an end to minority rule in Pretoria and got Nelson Mandela released from prison. And if the U.S. government cut off the $3.5 billion in tax dollars going to Israel annually and the divestment movement picked up more steam, Israel would start to negotiate. And negotiations can only proceed if there is a freeze on settlements.

Rev. Dale is concerned about an end to dialogue if the Presbyterians divest. What has the current dialogue achieved? I vote for divestment to force an end to the settlements so that negotiations can begin.

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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