The antisemitic BDS movement suffered a major defeat this week when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authorized pension fund giant TIAA-CREF to exclude a resolution calling for divestments from Israeli companies from the ballot at the fund’s upcoming shareholders meeting. The resolution, put forward by a small band of extremist shareholders, would have allowed TIAA-CREF‘s full membership to vote on the resolution at the meeting in North Carolina in July. In the wake of the SEC ruling, however, the resolution will now not be presented to the shareholders and will not be voted upon at all.
Following the submission of the divestment resolution, TIAA-CREF officials had written to the SEC requesting that it be permitted, due to its biased and anti-Israel political content, to “take no action” on the resolution. Essentially, it was asked that they be allowed to leave it off the ballot completely and ignored.
Shurat HaDin sent a warning letter to TIAA-CREF last month informing its leadership that the boycott resolution was a violation of both federal and New York State law and that any effort by the pension fund to implement it would be illegal. The letter noted 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.
Moreover, we warned the fund that should it pass and actually undertake to boycott Israeli companies, we would file suit on the companies’ behalf against TIAA-CREF, and ask both federal and state law enforcement agencies to take action against the fund’s leadership. We stressed that if the anti-Israel resolution passes, and TIAA-CREF does not expressly disavow it and refuse to comply with it, Shurat HaDin will be ready to immediately bring TIAA-CREF to court to ensure the enforcement of state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-boycott laws, and to ensure that Israeli companies and businesses are not harmed as a result of TIAA-CREF’s newly-adopted policy of discrimination. We also demanded that the extremist boycott resolution not be presented at all.
Last week, American counsel for Shurat HaDin contacted the SEC and discussed our concerns over the divestment resolution noting its anti-Semitic nature, the fact that it only targeted Israel and that it was a violation of the anti-boycott laws. We pointed out to the SEC that the TIAA-CREF’s corporate charter limits its proper function to conducting business ‘to aid and strengthen nonprofit colleges, universities’. As such, we could 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.
We are very grateful that the SEC has now authorized TIAA-CREF to exclude the divestment resolution and not allow it to be voted upon.
The BDS movement is reeling from the SEC decision. They were really hoping that the TIAA-CREF shareholder meeting in July was going to provide them a big public forum for a discussion of their anti-Semitic opinions and their efforts to scapegoat the Jewish State. They believed they had the momentum this time to get a boycott resolution passed by a prestigious fund like the TIAA-CREF but the SEC ruling has put an end to all that.
So chalk up another victory for Israel’s supporters and another colossal failure for the BDS movement. May all their extremist efforts meet the same fate.Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
About the Author: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is director of Shurat HaDin, which acts to protect human rights and the security of the State of Israel.
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