Another BDS hoax: No, TIAA-CREF did not sell Caterpillar because of its Israel businessThe Forward either fell for a hoax or is playing along. The Forward reported on Thursday that the giant pension fund - TIAA-CREF has booted Caterpillar shares out of its Responsible Investing Fund due to Israel ties.
Retirement giant TIAA-CREF has dumped Caterpillar from a socially responsible investment fund after over two years of pressure from human-rights groups that say the company bolsters Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.Just one small problem: The story is a lie.
The pension fund had held $72 million in Caterpillar shares in its Social Choice Funds portfolio.
The Illinois-based construction company sold bulldozers to the Israeli government, which critics say are used in the destruction of Palestinian homes and buildings.
The move comes after campaigning against TIAA-CREF spearheaded by the We Divest Campaign in 2010 and a high-profile call to action by Archbishop Desmond Tutu last July.
The U.S. group Jewish Voice for Peace initiated the We Divest movement and gained support from the Palestinian BDS National Campaign and over 30 other organizations worldwide with petitions and grassroots activism.
To begin with, the story is not accompanied by any statement from TIAA-CREF itself that it has taken any action that could be described as political in nature. Which makes sense once you realize that CREF is still heavily invested in the company the boycotters are claiming as a divestment win (the long suffering Caterpillar Corporation).Read it all.
In fact, if you dig a little deeper it looks like CREF did not make any politically related investment or divestment decision at all, but rather that one of its funds (one targeting social investors) was following the lead of an independent research firm (MSCI) which generates an index which many “Social Responsibility” investment funds use to determine what will and will not be included in their portfolios.
Now earlier this year, MSCI downgraded and eventually removed Caterpillar from their index, which means that CREF was just following along with a decision made by an independent researcher, not making a judgment regarding Caterpillar on its own (as reflected by the fact that other funds managed by CREF still hold millions in Caterpillar stock).
Which brings us to the question of why did MSCI (an organization none of us – including the BDSers – ever noticed or mentioned until just this week) made the decision they did regarding Caterpillar?
BDS press releases do a masterful job of claiming victory while never citing a single quote (or anything specific) that would indicate that this decision was based on their effort – or anything having to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict for that matter. (As usual, Jewish Voice for Peace goes to the furthest rhetorical extreme, claiming that TIAA CREF not only made a specific decision to divest from Israel, but did so in defiance of a US Congressman - with no evidence supporting either contention/invention, of course.)
Might MSCI have taken into account some of the faux controversy the BDSers themselves have generated in judging whether Caterpillar was in or out? Or might some of the union issues the company has been facing been a deciding factor?
We don’t know (but many of us are trying to find out). But given the total lack of evidence those touting the “BDS victory” narrative have produced, I think it’s safe to say that we’re looking at another situation where a business decision with no specifically known motivation is being sold by the boycotters as a result of their work. And given the boycotter’s track record for fraudulently trying to pass off similar stories in the past, I think it’s safe to ignore any BDS bombast until they can produce for us a quote from TIAA-CREF itself (the company they are claiming to have done the BDSers’ bidding) confirming the story.
UPDATE 6:59 PM
Forward has removed the page. Here is a screen cap of the cached page (no link yet to the cached page itself).