National Quaker group joins Jewish-led divestment campaign from TIAA-CREF
First client of pension giant to sign on to screen investments that profit from Israel's occupation
PHILADELPHIA—American Friends Service Committee (AFSC,) the nearly century-old, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Quaker organization publicly announced their support of "We Divest from Israel's Occupation" campaign. The campaign asks TIAA-CREF, one of the world's largest retirement funds, to divest from companies like Caterpillar and Veolia that profit from occupation.
Their public stand came after letters they wrote as clients of the fund were rebuffed, in which they asked for an investment screen against companies that profit from Israel's occupation. The proposed screen would be based on a list approved by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church which includes all five companies highlighted by "We Divest:" Caterpillar, Elbit, Motorola, Northrup Grumman, and Veolia.
This is the first time a client of the fund has joined the divestment campaign, standing with campaign leaders Jewish Voice for Peace and the more than 40 organizations who have already signed on, including Jewish, Christian, and secular organizations from across the country and Israel/Palestine. Over 20,000 individuals, including thousands of TIAA-CREF participants have also called for divestment.
In the FAQ announcing the decision, AFSC quoted their own board as saying "it was approving the screen 'as a matter of conscience and an expression of our unwillingness to remain complicit with violence and oppression occurring daily in Palestine and Israel, which is contrary to all that we know to be true and right.'
AFSC’s board stated further thatIn communicating with Jewish Voice for Peace and others we will hold up our broader concerns for the resolution of all conflict and violation of human rights in the region.”
Sydney Levy, Director or Campaigns welcomed the decision, stating that "the move by the American Friends Service Committee shows how increasingly organizations are scrutinizing where their money is going and demanding that it support their values. TIAA-CREF is claiming to invest 'for the greater good' while running from its own shareholders. The letters show TIAA-CREF ignoring the legitimate concerns of one its own clients, even as TIAA-CREF ignores the concerns of its own participants by blocking their shareholder proposal calling for accountability on profiting from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."