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July 19, 2012 5:49 pm

Pension Fund Opts Against Advancing BDS Process

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TIAA-CREF headquarters in New York. Photo: Jim.henderson.

TIAA-CREF will not engage in further discussions on Israel with six companies in its network that do business with the Israel Defense Forces, CEO Roger Ferguson said Tuesday, meaning the pension fund has opted against what would have been the first step in a process of divestment.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) advocates have called for TIAA-CREF to divest from Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar, Veolia, Elbit, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard due to what they deem to be those companies’ violations of Palestinian human rights.

At Tuesday’s TIAA-CREF annual shareholders meeting in New York, Avi Posnick—regional coordinator for the pro-Israel education and advocacy group StandWithUs—responded to pension fund accountholders who, taking their cue from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and other pro-BDS groups, have been pushing for divestment.

The BDS supporters in attendance made “false accusations about Israel and about these companies,” Posnick told JNS.org. He said that in addition to countering those accusations, StandWithUs and others in the pro-Israel community came to the meeting to “thank TIAA CREF for seeing this BDS campaign for what it is.”

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StandWithUs has been communicating with TIAA-CREF about the divestment issue for two years now, Posnick said, with the goal of “trying to provide them information about what’s really going on” in Israel.

JVP and other BDS activists also recently lobbied in favor of a resolution for the Presbyterian Church to divestment from three companies doing business with Israel. The resolution was defeated by a mere two votes at the church’s general assembly in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“I don’t think it matters whether [BDS activists] are targeting a company like TIAA CREF, or the Presbyterian Church, or smaller grocery stores or whoever sells Israeli products,” Posnick said. “They want everyone, no matter who you are, to have nothing to do with Israel, and to alienate Israel, and to consider it a pariah.”

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