BDS roundup: Why more than 200 NYU faculty and staff support TIAA-CREF divestment campaign

Video: NYU students, faculty and staff support TIAA-CREF divestment campaign

- New York City: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)’s chapter at New York University produced a video in mid-September documenting the growing divesment campaign targeting pension fund giant TIAA-CREF. The campaign calls on TIAA-CREF to drop its investments in a myriad of corporations which profit from Israel’s ongoing occupation and violations of Palestinian rights. According to the video, more than 200 NYU professors and staff have signed onto the TIAA-CREF divestment campaign at NYU.

In the video, NYU faculty and staff passionately comment on why they are supporting the divestment campaign, against backdrops of archival video footage documenting Israel’s human rights violations in Palestine. Companies that TIAA-CREF hold investments in include Caterpillar, Elbit, Northrup-Grumman, Veolia, and Motorola. NYU’s campaign calling on TIAA-CREF to divest is part of a national initiative by various Palestine solidarity and BDS groups. In June, TIAA-CREF announced that it had pulled $72 million of its shares in Caterpillar from its Social Choice Funds portfolio, but the pension giant continues to hold more than $1 billion in Caterpillar investments in its general fund.

Commenting on the video, EI contributor Sami Kishawi wrote on his personal blog site that:

One thing to look out for is the clear and convicted support from NYU faculty members. Typically, when supporters of the Israeli occupation unjustifiably frame efforts like these as hostile or anti-Semitic, job security becomes an increasingly important factor for professors and staff members to consider. There have been cases in the past when even the slightest support of Palestinian rights has led to censorship attempts and even tenure denial. But the NYU community has stood firm in their call for full divestment.

Keep an eye out to see how far this campaign goes on the NYU campus and on campuses across the United States in the coming months.

Activists unfurl banner in front of Israeli weapons manufacturer at Berlin Air Fair

- Berlin: On 16 September, Palestine solidarity activists stood in front of the Rafael weapons manufacturer’s booth at the biennial air show in Berlin (called the ILA).

Activists then unfurled a banner reading “Rafael — Manufacturing war crimes” and stood for about a minute before a phalanx of security personnel told them to leave and forcibly escorted them out. While they were being taken out, the activists tossed informational pamphlets into the air. When they were almost at the exit doors, as one can see in the video, one security officer attempted to grab the banner, but the activists were able to thwart his action.

ILA Berlin was supported by the European Defence Agency, an official European Union body.

Boycott appeal to Jesus and Mary Chain

- Global: The band Jesus and Mary Chain are scheduled to play a show in Tel Aviv later this month, and boycott activists have started a Facebook group to encourage the band to cancel their performance and not cross the picket line.

Don’t Play Apartheid Israel has issued an appeal to the band on Facebook, and the boycott group Refrain Playing Israel has drafted a letter to the band imploring them to respect the boycott.

Refrain Playing Israel’s letter states:

When a band agrees to play in Israel and breaks the picket line, whether they intend to or not, they are making a political statement. In 2005 an Israeli spokesman asserted that: “We see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and … do not differentiate between propaganda and culture” [Haaretz, September 2005]. Your performances on 18 and 19 October will place you on the side of injustice and oppression, we are asking you to stand with the oppressed instead.


Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).