Friday, June 22, 2012

Jewish Voice for Peace, TIAA - CREF and Caterpillar: The Newest BDS hoax?

Its beginning to look a lot like a BDS hoax- as ubiquitous as kitten pictures and porn on the web. All the signs were there from the very beginning. Sweeping proclamations from the anti-Israel lobby, spammed and tweeted with no confirmation from any neutral source, and no coverage in the mainstream media. The Forward briefly ran an article based on the JVP press release, quickly realized they'd been had, and quietly removed it. Oops.

From Divest This- the web's single most reliable site on BDS:

"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).

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."

In spite of JVP's laughable flash mobs and petitioning, TIAA CREF has held firm regarding divestment , stating in an open letter:

"While TIAA-CREF acknowledges participants’ varying views on Israeli and Palestinian policies and the Gaza Strip and West Bank, we are unable to alter our investment policy in accordance with those views. Our responsibility to earn a competitive financial return on the retirement savings entrusted to us by 3.7 million participants obliges us to invest in a diverse line-up of companies across all sectors of the global economy."


Anonymous said...

Many institutions hire independent groups that guide them in determining that they have socially responsible investment portfolios. That is how it is done. Turns out Caterpillar doesn't make the grade, turns out that the many years of challenging Caterpillar, educating people about their role in creating militarized equipment for destroying Palestinian homes and lives--has led to many thousands of investors who don't want Caterpillar in their portfolio--true of a growing population of people whose pensions are through Tiaa-cref. Bottom line is Caterpillar has been removed from the very idea of socially responsible.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is the decision had nothing to do with Israel, though.

The back of the hill said...

Caterpillar stock is now at $84.96.

When National Organizer US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation Katherine M. Fuchs urged everyone to buy stock, it was at $58.00, more or less.

Forty six percent profit! Woohoo!
Thank you, Ms. Fuchs!

I am SO gonna retire.

Hee hee hee.

Any more hot tips?

Anonymous said...

Bottom line, it did have to do with Israeli policies. Read the JTA: Here's an excerpt:

"The MSCI-ESG official told JTA on Friday that what drove Caterpillar off the index was the company's decision in February to shutter a London, Ont. plant after a high-profile dispute with employees. However, the official acknowledged several factors played into the company's already relatively low rating, including the association of Caterpillar with Israeli army practices in the occupied territories."

Anonymous said...

The Forward wrote an article based on the JVP press release that they quickly pulled when they realized it was fabricated. So maybe your problem is that you are quick to believe what you want to believe, and are slow to realize the truth

Anonymous said...

The Forward did update, not by saying anything was "fabricated" but "overstated. Here is their corrective regarding the link between the Israeli occupation, divestment, and being socially responsible.

"But the executive’s explanation also indicated that the BDS movement did have some part in the process that led the Illinois-based corporation to losing its favorable social rating.
Among the reasons Caterpillar was earlier rated as a below-average ‘B’ company before downgrade to ‘CCC,’ were “human rights concerns relating to its activity in the territories” he said. Other issues leading MSCI to rate Caterpillar as ‘B’ had to do with labor management, employment safety and environmental concerns.

So who can believe what they want to believe? Who is fabricating reality? The art of coverup has lost credibility even among a growing number of Jews.

Dusty said...

The original goal of JVP was to get Tiaa cref to divest from Caterpillar and the stock of 5 other companies.

Tiaa Cref still holds millions of dollars of Caterpillar stock. The other companies stock remains untouched.

JVP did not meet their goal. They didn't come close. How is this a "Huge" victory?

Its been 11 years of BDS failures- the self-serving chortling is just JVP's way of saving face.