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Chicago divestment campaign celebrates pension fund's Caterpillar decision

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a-divest.JPGThe grass-roots Chicago Divests campaign was in a bit of a celebratory mood at La Salle and Lake Monday.

The group was passing out leaflets and holding signs outside the offices of the financial services company TIAA-CREF, partly to acknowledge the company's decision last month to drop Caterpillar from its "Social Choice" accounts.

On its website, TIAA-CREF says, "The [Social Choice] fund seeks a favorable long-term rate of return that tracks the investment performance of the U.S. stock market while giving special consideration to certain social criteria."

The national We Divest campaign has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies that profit from Israeli actions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Caterpillar sells bulldozers that Israel uses

to raze buildings and orchards, Jennifer Bing of the American Friends Service Committee said Monday outside the TIAA-CREF offices.

The Social Choice fund held about $73 million worth of Caterpillar stock, she said.

Caterpillar says it does not sell directly to the Israeli military. Equipment sold to the U.S. government is resold to Israel.

Last week Caterpillar reported its second-quarter profit was up 67 percent, with a net income $1.7 billion.

Read the We Divest press release here.

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No doubt TIAA-CREF and the We Divest campaign will only buy rockets from Hamas and Hezbollah to fire into Israel now. Do TIAA-CREF or We Divest do anything for victims of Hamas or Hezbollah atrocities?

I love the way that every time someone - like Chicago Divests - points out the ravages of the Israeli occupation on both the Palestinian and Israeli people, someone just throws out Hamas or Hezbollah to change the subject. The question is - what can we do as American taxpayers and investors to bring peace and justice to both peoples? We can stop using "socially responsible" investment funds to bulldoze Palestinian homes and olive groves or stop spending $3billion per year in taxpayer money to support an occupation that perpetuates the conflict. Bravo TIAA-CREF! You stopped supporting injustice and war in South Africa and Darfur. Now spread your good works to Israel and Palestine!

Thank you Sun Times for covering this important issue and our local activists who have worked hard to hold TIAA-CREF accountable to its own principles and that of its shareholders. Bravo for you both and for all who seek to liberate themselves from the forces that maintain or contribute to oppression!

Occupation and oppression often generate violence in response. Divestment is a nonviolent, legal and legitimate means to protest occupation and oppression of one people toward another people. Do we de-legitimize a friend when we do not let the friend drive drunk or engages in behavior that endangers self or others?

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Frisbie published on July 30, 2012 12:52 PM.

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