Daily Israel Report

US Pension Fund Divests from Africa Israel

The fund has inadvertently fulfilled a suggestion made by Haaretz's Amira Hass, who suggested that companies divest from Africa Israel.
By David Lev
First Publish: 9/12/2009, 9:18 PM / Last Update: 9/12/2009, 9:35 PM


The question is not why Norway divested from the defense electronics giant Elbit Systems, but why only now, and why only from that company," Hass writes, going on to list other targets for divestment.  
Lev Leviev's Africa Israel company got some more bad news this weekend, when U.S. pension fund giant TIAA-CREF confirmed that it was divesting from the company over its building activities in Judea and Samaria. The announcement comes in the wake of financial troubles reported by the company last week surrounding its ability to pay its debts.

The company's stock on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has plummeted, and bond rating services have slashed ratings on Africa Israel's offerings. As a result, TIAA-CREF has inadvertently followed advice proferred by pro-Arab Haaretz columnist Amira Hass, who has specifically pegged Africa Israel as a target for international divestment.

TIAA-CREF administers pensions for some 3.6 million educators in colleges and controls nearly $400 billion. The fund had only $257,000 invested in Africa Israel. According to fund figures, the money that appeared on TIAA-CREF's balance sheet invested in Africa Israel in a statement issued March 31 had disappeared in the statement dated June 30. According to Arab groups, several dozen TIAA-CREF clients demanded that the fund divest from Africa Israel. The fund confirmed the move in a statement last week.

Africa Israel officials issued no comment on the divestiture.

This was the second divestiture announcement by a foreign pension fund against an Israeli company this month. Several weeks ago, Norway's pension fund dumped Elbit Systems because of its involvement in helping to build the security fence separating the settlement blocs from Palestinian Authority controlled areas. The Foreign Ministry summoned Norway's ambassador to Israel for consultations after the announcement.

With the confirmation, TIAA-CREF has inadvertently fulfilled a suggestion made by Haaretz's Amira Hass, who specifically suggested that companies divest from Africa Israel. Written in the wake of the Norwegian divestment, Hass titled her September 8 Haaretz piece "Why Stop with Elbit?"

"The question is not why Norway divested from the defense electronics giant Elbit Systems, but why only now, and why only from that company," Hass writes, going on to list other targets for divestment. "Africa Israel, Israeli banks that give mortgages to settlers, a Mexican company that has plants in the settlements and is a partner in mining in occupied territory, Israeli firms whose plants are in the occupied West Bank - these are just some of the over 40 Israeli and international companies that are involved in solidifying Israel's occupation, and in which Norway invests." While pointing out that there were dozens of companies "worthy" of boycott and divestment, Hass names only one specifically – Africa Israel.