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April 14, 2013 12:16 pm

Lawsuit Threatened if Major Equities Fund Goes Through With Boycott of Israel

avatar by Zach Pontz

BDS protestors in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: wiki commons.

The Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) is threatening legal action against the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) if it chooses to adopt a resolution boycotting Israeli firms and investments.

Jewish Voice of Peace filed a shareholder proposal with the College Retirement Equities Fund on Feb. 8 that was signed by 200 investors, requesting that shareholders be allowed to vote on the issue at CREF’s July annual meeting.

In a letter sent to company executives Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Director of the Israel Law Center, wrote that “the racist resolution, if adopted, would place CREF in direct violation of New York and federal law.”

She added, “If it does permit the resolution to go to a vote, we hope that TIAA-CREF’s officers and directors ensure that the voting participants understand that the resolution demands that TIAA-CREF do something illegal and that, even if the resolution passes, TIAA-CREF will be unable to comply.”

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In 2011, Jewish Voice for Peace filed a similar shareholder proposal calling for CREF to divest from three companies doing business in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank — Caterpillar, Veolia Environment and Elbit. The matter was never heard by the CREF shareholders after CREF filed a complaint with the SEC.

According to the website Pensions and Investments, Sydney Levy, a spokesman for Jewish Voice for Peace, said the shareholder proposal was rewritten this year not to require divesture of a specific company.

TIAA-CREF is a Fortune 100 financial services group and the leading retirement provider for employees in the academic and medical fields, currently serving over 3.7 million people.

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