We Divest is a campaign to compel retirement fund giant TIAA-CREF to stop investing in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. TIAA-CREF touts itself as socially responsible, yet its investment in companies including Caterpillar, Motorola, Veolia, Northrop Grumman, Elbit Systems, Hewlett Packard, Africa Israel, G4S, and SodaStream implicate the retirement fund in Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian rights through such policies as home demolitions, land confiscation, restriction of Palestinian freedom of movement, the killing of Palestinian civilians, the strangulation of the Palestinian economy.
The We Divest Campaign stands out as one of the most important and accessible divestment campaigns in the United States today. Here are some reasons it could be the perfect campaign for your community!
- TIAA-CREF is everywhere, with clients in nearly every U.S. town and city (including most academic institutions) and offices in 60 cities. This allows groups around the country -- like yours -- to join forces on one unifying campaign, while each implementing it on a local level.
- The Campaign was chosen as a priority by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, which is the Palestinian coordinating body of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In other words, this campaign is something that Palestinian civil society has asked from U.S. organizers.
- The Campaign is flexible. There are many different ways to be a part of the We Divest Campaign. For example, at a university, you can try for a faculty resolution, student body recommendation, or departmental statement. In a local organization like a non-profit, church, or hospital, you can organize employees to engage with TIAA-CREF and request occupation-free investment options. You can also focus on just one specific company within the campaign, like Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard or Veolia. The more those companies are exposed for profiting from the occupation, the less attractive they become as a wise investment. And of course, don’t forget about shareholder activism and some good ol’ protests outside your local TIAA-CREF office!
- The research is already done for you. Once you know that an institution offers TIAA-CREF to employees, you don’t have to do research on investment holdings or choose corporate targets because all that is already done and ready. It’s easy as pie to find out if an institution offers TIAA-CREF. Just call Human Resources and ask, or check online.
- You are not starting from scratch. Since so many groups are working on this campaign, there are others to learn from and resources ready to use. We’ve got fact sheets, flyers, posters, PowerPoint presentations, toolkits, songs, and chants all ready for you to use!
- TIAA-CREF cares about social responsibility, and claims to be a strong advocate for shareholders' rights and a leader in socially responsible investing. TIAA-CREF states that it has a “globally integrated approach [that] seeks to influence positive social change in the countries and communities in which we invest while helping our clients achieve their goal of a safe and secure retirement.” The We Divest Campaign seeks to hold TIAA-CREF accountable to its commitments, and with enough pressure from people like you, they are much more likely to comply than a financial firm that is solely concerned with immediate profits.
- You’re working to convince natural allies. Rather than trying to convince the Board of Investors, you are tasked with convincing professors, university staff, hospitals, unions, non-profits, churches, and other people more likely to be supportive of and active on issues of peace and justice. Most TIAA-CREF clients probably don’t want their retirement funded by violations of Palestinians’ human rights.
- You’re not asking TIAA-CREF clients to move their money. You’re simply asking them to call on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. That way, clients don’t have to move their retirement funds at all.
- You will find new allies. There’s a database of more than 25,000 divestment petition signatories where you can find out pre-existing Campaign supporters in your area. You’d be surprised how many pop up, some of whom you might not have even known were allies!
- TIAA-CREF's divestment would be a substantial economic blow. TIAA-CREF is the largest fund of its kind, with billions of dollars in investments. Its divestment from the Israeli occupation would send a powerful signal to other companies violating international laws by abetting the occupation.