Israel-based civil rights group informs Fortune 100 pension giant against
Tel Aviv, April 10, 2013: The Tel Aviv-based civil rights group Shurat
HaDin – Israel Law Center has written the Teachers Insurance and Annuity
Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) today to inform
them that the adoption of a resolution boycotting Israeli firms and
investments would be in direct violation of New York and Federal law.
Recently, anti-Israel activists from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) movement, submitted a resolution to the TIAA-CREF calling upon it to
divest from Israeli companies. The resolution will voted upon at the fund's
upcoming membership meeting.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the director of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center,
stressed that if the TIAA- CREF adopts the resolution it would be officially
taking an extremely hostile position against the Jewish State and its
companies and unfairly involving itself in the Middle East conflict.
"Considering that the TIAA-CREF's corporate charter limits its proper
function to conducting business 'to aid and strengthen nonprofit colleges,
universities' we do not understand how a biased and malicious resolution
like this can properly be presented to their membership. The resolution
violates standing laws, is contrary to public policy and must be abandoned,"
In a letter sent to the pension giant's executives, Darshan-Leitner pointed
out that New York law defines boycotts as "unlawful discriminatory practice"
and that any decision to “refuse to buy from, sell to or trade with, or
otherwise discriminate against any person, because of
the…creed…[or ]national origin" is unlawful and even places secondary
actors, aiding the policy, under liability.
The letter noted that the Ribicoff Amendment to the Tax Reform Act of 1976
also makes it a federal violation to "participate in or cooperate with an
international boycott." The BDS boycott of Israel is an extension of the
continuing Arab boycott of Israel.
Darshan-Leitner noted that if the anti-Israel group succeeds in having the
resolution to go to a vote, she hopes that TIAA-CREF’s officers and
directors will ensure that the voting participants understand that the
resolution compels the TIAA-CREF to do something illegal and that, even if
the resolution passes, the pension fund will be unable to comply.
"If the resolution passes and TIAA-CREF does not expressly disown itself of
the results, Shurat HaDin will be ready to immediate bring take action to
ensure the enforcement of New York’s anti-discrimination laws, take all
steps to ensure enforcement of Federal anti-boycott laws and to ensure that
Israeli companies are not financially harmed nor discriminated against," she
TIAA-CREF, a Fortune 100 financial services group, is the leading retirement
provider for employees in the academic and medical fields, currently serving
over 3.7 million people.
Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an Israel-based organization dedicated
to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system and represents
victims of terrorism in courtrooms around the world. Its clients include
American, European, and Israeli citizens. It is unaffiliated with any
political party or governmental body.
Letter available here: http://tinyurl.com/cwtwd5s
Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center
10 Hata'as St., Ramat Gan 52512