Join AFSC in supporting Jewish Voice for Peace’s We Divest Campaign

What is the We Divest Campaign?  The We Divest Campaign is an effort to get investment giant TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that support Israel’s occupation the Palestinian territories which include the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including  East Jerusalem), that contribute to the construction of settlements and the Wall, and/or that provide products or services that enable or contribute to attacks on civilians.   Specifically, this campaign requests that TIAA-CREF divest from five companies that are complicit in ongoing human rights violations and violations of international law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.  These companies include Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, Elbit Systems, Northup Grumman, and Veolia. 

Why has AFSC joined this Campaign?  In 2008 AFSC added an Israel-Palestine specific investment screen to its socially responsible investment policy.  This screen prohibits AFSC from investing in any company that contributes to perpetuation the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, provides services to Israeli settlements, or providers products or services that enable violent acts that target civilians.  TIAA-CREF provides 403(b) services for AFSC employees and in keeping with our screen AFSC wrote to TIAA-CREF on February 16, 2011 AFSC requesting that TIAA-CREF develop and implement an Israel-Palestine specific investment screen.  At present even money placed in TIAA-CREF’s socially responsible investment fund is invested in companies that support or are complicit in ongoing human rights violations and violations of international law.  TIAA-CREF responded to AFSC stating that they were unable to alter their investment policy.  TIAA-CREF’s unwillingness to address our concerns led AFSC to join the Jewish Voice for Peace led TIAA-CREF divestment Campaign. 

TIAA-CREF Petition

We are TIAA-CREF participants, investors, and supporters who are deeply concerned that TIAA-CREF invests in many companies that profit from Israelʼs occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Some of these companies provide weapons and covert surveillance supplies that maintain the occupation by force. Others take or exploit Palestinian resources, including scarce water and even the land itself. All are profiting from Israelʼs violations of international law and international human rights standards.

Some examples:

  • CATERPILLAR profits from the destruction of Palestinian homes and the uprooting of Palestinian orchards by supplying the armor-plated and weaponized bulldozers that are used for such demolition work.
  • VEOLIA profits from the construction and expansion of illegal Jewish-only settlements by operating a landfill in the West Bank, exploiting Palestinian natural resources to serve the settlements, and by contracting for the future operation of an illegal light rail system connecting these settlements with Jerusalem.
  • NORTHROP GRUMMAN profits from the production of parts for the Apache helicopters and F-16 aircrafts used by Israel against civilians in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-09 assault.
  • ELBIT profits from the confiscation of Palestinian land by providing surveillance equipment that is mounted on the Separation Wall, which was declared unlawful by the International Court of Justice.
  • MOTOROLA profits from Israel’s control of the Palestinian population by providing surveillance systems around Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and military camps in the West Bank, as well as communication systems to the Israeli army and West Bank settlers.

While the specific companies held change over time, TIAA-CREF’s investment criteria do not screen out such investments, which are incompatible with our values and with corporate social responsibility.

Out of commitment to equality, freedom and international law, we therefore urgently request that:

  • TIAA-CREF divest from companies that:
    • Directly profit from or contribute to the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
    • Provide products or services that contribute to the construction and maintenance of Israeli settlements and/or the Separation Wall, both of which are illegal under international law.
    • Provide products or services that contribute to or enable violent acts that target civilians.
  • TIAA-CREF establish investment criteria to exclude any such companies in the future.

For almost 100 years, TIAA-CREF has striven to provide financial services for the greater good, helping those in the academic, medical, cultural, and research fields to plan for and live in retirement. Please help all TIAA-CREF participants invest the fruit of their labor and enjoy their retirement in good conscience.