May 30, 2013: A resolution calling for the boycott of Israeli firms
will not be put to a vote at TIAA-CREF’s upcoming shareholders
meeting. The move comes after the pension fund giant received approval
from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to “take no action”
on a submission by pro-Palestinian activists. This followed the
company’s warning by an Israeli civil rights group that passage of the
resolution would violate NY and Federal law.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center,
stressed that the development was “a major defeat for the extremist
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement taking aim at Israel.”
Darshan-Leitner underlined that her group discussed “concerns with the
SEC and pointed out that the resolution was in violation of
anti-boycott laws. We noted that TIAA-CREF’s corporate charter limited
its functions to ‘aiding and strengthening nonprofit colleges,
universities,’ and we could not understand how a biased resolution
like this could properly be presented to their membership.”
Last month, Tel Aviv-based Shurat HaDin informed TIAA-CREF’s
leadership that any attempt to implement the boycott resolution would
be illegal. The letter noted that NY 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” was unlawful and even
places secondary actors, aiding the policy, under liability.
The letter pointed out 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.”
Darshan-Leitner stressed that if measures were to be actually taken
against Israel, Shurat HaDin would immediately file suit on behalf of
Israeli businesses against TIAA-CREF and to ensure enforcement of
state and Federal anti-discrimination laws.
“We seek to make sure Israeli companies are not harmed as a result of
a newly-adopted policy of discrimination. The BDS movement was looking
for a big public forum to spew their hatred. The SEC ruling has now
put an end to all that. It is an important victory and we are grateful
that the SEC gave TIAA-CREF authorization to ignore extremism,”
TIAA-CREF, a Fortune 100 financial services group, is the leading
retirement provider for employees in the academic and medical fields.
It currently serves over 3.7 million people. The group is
headquartered in New York City, and has major offices in Denver,
Charlotte and Dallas.
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.
To view a copy of Shurat HaDin’s warning to TIAA-CREF:
Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center
Tel Aviv, Israel