Investors ask TIAA-CREF to divest from Caterpillar and other companies profiting from the Israeli occupation.
[Oakland, CA December 10, 2010] Investors are going today to the office of retirement giant TIAA-CREF to demand divestment from Caterpillar, Inc. because it profits from the illegal destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes.
Meetings with local TIAA-CREF officials or protests outside their offices are planned for a growing number of cities, including New York, Washington, Princeton, Detroit, Chicago, Lexington, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle.
For a complete list of cities, go here http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/content/tiaa-cref-day-action.
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The demonstration is part of a nation-wide effort to get TIAA-CREF, one of the world's largest retirement funds, to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., because Caterpillar bulldozers have been used to illegally demolish over 24,000 Palestinian homes since 1967.
“As a 30-year-participant in TIAA-CREF, I strongly urge them to do what is socially responsible and morally right: divest from companies which sustain and profit from Israeli's military presence in the occupied territories,” said Toby Horowitz, a math teacher coach.
“Last July, New York shareholders brought their concerns to the company’s shareholder meeting, together with a petition signed by over 15,000 TIAA-CREF investors and their supporters,” said Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace’s Campaign Director. “We are seeing today the same concern spread out across the country.”
Russ Greenleaf, a Jewish Voice for Peace activist in Louisville, KY explains how widespread these concerns are: “We went to the University of Louisville, and together with the local Students for Justice in Palestine we collected 260 signatures for the TIAA-CREF petition in about 4 hours. That’s more than one signature a minute.”
In fact, at the same time as the TIAA-CREF visits are taking place, a coalition of concerned Arizona public university students are holding a rally and speakout, urging the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) to fully divest from Caterpillar.
"We are sending a message to the University of Arizona and to TIAA-CREF that investing in the demolition of Palestinian homes is not only immoral, it is also in stark violation of university policy and TIAA-CREF's stated mission,” said Gabe Schivone, a Jewish Voice for Peace activist in Arizona.
The pressure against Caterpillar in Arizona universities resembles a campaign last semester in Evergreen College, where over 70% of the student body voted to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and to make their campus Caterpillar-free.
TIAA-CREF, one of the largest financial services companies in the world, invests about a quarter billion dollars in Caterpillar. Divesting from Caterpillar would send a clear message to the Israeli government to pressure it to obey international law. Divestment would be in keeping with TIAA-CREF's socially responsible mission. TIAA-CREF, one of the largest financial services companies in the world, invests about a quarter of a billion dollars in Caterpillar, which produces the massive, armor-plated bulldozers that are used by the Israeli army to demolish the homes of thousands of Palestinian families who pose no threat to Israel. Over 11,795 homes have been bulldozed in the past 10 years, making at least 11,795 Palestinian families homeless. These actions by Israel violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and basic human rights.
News reports have announced a temporary suspension of delivery of CAT bulldozers to Israel. But Caterpillar denies that its policy has changed.
Investors are also asking TIAA-CREF to divest from four other companies that sell products and services that support illegal Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Those companies are: Veolia (settlement landfill construction), Elbit (settlement surveillance equipment), Motorola (settlement communication equipment), and Northup-Grumman (apache helicopters and hellfire missiles).
ABOUT JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) is a national Jewish organization providing a voice for Jews and allies who believe that peace in the Middle East will be achieved through justice and full equality for both Palestinians and Israelis. With offices in New York and California, and chapters across the country, JVP has 100,000 online activists. JVP’s Advisory Board includes numerous prominent Jewish thinkers and artists, including Michael Ratner, Ed Asner, Tony Kushner, Naomi Klein, Adrienne Rich, and Ronnie Gilbert.
JVP supports nonviolent efforts here and in Israel-Palestine to end Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian land, expand human rights and civil rights, and implement a US policy based on international law and democracy. JVP opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression, and seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
For more info: http://www.jvp.org/tiaa-cref