BDS Victory: TIAA-CREF dumps CAT stock
For Immediate Release
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Jewish Voice for Peace
TIAA-CREF Drops Caterpillar from Social Choice Funds
Biggest U.S. Victory Yet for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement
June 21, 2012—Over the objection of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), pension giant TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds have divested from Caterpillar.
Ackerman, the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, has strongly condemned the TIAA-CREF divestment campaign, calling it “ill-conceived and dangerous.”
Ackerman attacked nearly 200 New York University (NYU) faculty and staff for signing a letter urging TIAA-CREF President/CEO Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., to “divest funds from companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.”
Ackerman remarked, “It would take a great deal of education to rationalize such utter nonsense. But somehow, I feel sure this bunch at NYU will manage it.”
TIAA-CREF ignored Ackerman and did exactly as the NYU faculty asked—divesting more than $72 million of shares in Caterpillar from their social choice funds. Caterpillar shares (NYSE:CAT) are down 1.25% as of 12 p.m. ET today.
TIAA-CREF’s move is yet another sign of surging momentum for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.”
Ackerman is not alone in fighting TIAA-CREF’s divestment. The Israel Action Network is a $6 million project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, devoted to undermining divestment campaigns like this one. TIAA-CREF was clearly not convinced by either Ackerman or the Israel Action Network.
“The Israel Action Network is a cynical effort to divide the Jewish community and silence one of the most important moral policy debates in our country,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign (www.wedivest.org).
TIAA-CREF had resisted calls for divestment since the We Divest Campaign launched in 2010. The change comes less than a month before TIAA-CREF’s annual meeting, which will take place July 17th in New York.
The We Divest Campaign will continue to urge TIAA-CREF to divest other funds from Caterpillar and to divest from all companies that profit from the Israeli occupation—including Northrop Grumman, Veolia, Elbit, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard. The campaign was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace and now includes six organizations, including the American Friends Service Committee, Adalah-NY, Grassroots International, the US Palestinian Community Network, and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law.
With over 115,000 online supporters, 35 chapters and a Rabbi's Council, JVP’s board of advisors includes Tony Kushner, Ed Asner, Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Eve Ensler and others.