Jewish group petitions TIAA-CREF to divest from Israel


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Jewish grass-roots organization is petitioning a major financial services provider to divest from holdings in companies it says profit from Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

Jewish Voice for Peace has organized a campaign asking TIAA-CREF, one of the world’s largest providers of financial services, to stop investing in companies it says “profit from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” Among the companies listed are Caterpillar, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Veolia and Elbit.

The organization hopes to have 15,000 signatures on a divestment petition in time for TIAA-CREF’s annual meeting Tuesday. As of Monday there were 12,000 signers.

Caterpillar benefits from the demolition of Palestinian homes and Veolia profits from a landfill it operates in the West Bank, while Motorola, Northrop Grumman and Elbit all profit from security systems and military services they provide to Israel, according to Jewish Voice for Peace.

Jewish Voice for Peace successfully petitioned TIAA-CREF to stop investing in companies linked to Sudan last year. On June 24, when the group’s Israel divestment petition had 300 signatures, TIAA-CREF issued a response.

“While TIAA-CREF acknowledges participants’ varying views on Israeli and Palestinian policies and the Gaza Strip and West Bank, we are unable to alter our investment policy in accordance with those views,” the response stated. “Our responsibility to earn a competitive financial return on the retirement savings entrusted to us by 3.7 million participants obliges us to invest in a diverse line-up of companies across all sectors of the global economy.”

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