The US Campaign is thrilled to announce that the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) has become the first U.S. national fund to divest from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Veolia Environment following concerns expressed by Palestinian rights advocates about the companies’ involvement in the Israeli occupation. At last count, FFC held investments of more than $250,000 in HP and more than $140,000 in Veolia.
FFC handles investments for over 300 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the U.S., with over $200 million in assets. According to the Executive Director of FFC, Hewlett Packard was dropped for providing information technology consulting services to the Israeli Navy, while Veolia Environment was removed due to “environmental and social concerns.”
The decision followed advocacy from member group Palestine Israel Action Group of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting (AAFM), which also successfully urged FFC to divest its $900,000 in Caterpillar shares in May. FFC has a “zero tolerance for weapons and weapons components” and said, “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.” Caterpillar produces and sells bulldozers to Israel that are weaponized and used to violate Palestinian rights and destroy Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals, olive groves, and lives.
The US Campaign commends AAFM and FFC, which made its recent decision, in line with FFC’s principled commitment to investment in companies that “contribute positively to a peaceful, sustainable world.”
HP maintains a biometric ID system used in Israeli checkpoints for racial profiling; manages the Israeli Navy’s IT infrastructure; and supplies the Israeli army with other equipment and services used to maintain its military occupation. Veolia is involved in a light rail linking illegal Israeli settlements with cities in Israel; it operates segregated bus lines through the occupied West Bank; and it operates a landfill and a waste water system that dumps Israeli waste on Palestinian land.
2012 will truly be remembered as a landmark year of victories in the global campaign to hold corporations accountable for profiting from Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights and international law:
Earlier this month, the dining services of Earlham College, another Quaker institution, stopped selling Sabra products in response to concerns from students and faculty about the company’s links to the Israeli army. Other campuses have de-shelved Sabra recently. BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Earlham, a member group of the US Campaign, continues its exciting campaign to convince the college to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola, and HP.
Shortly thereafter, the Student Union of the massive University of California (UC) system voted to protect students’ rights to advocate BDS on campus and demanded that UC stop profiting from Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights. The motion passed by a vote of 12 to 0 (with 2 abstentions).
And of course, Morgan Stanley Capital Investment decided this year to remove the company from its list of socially responsible companies, prompting financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest more than $72 million in Caterpillar shares previously held in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Fund (though the company still holds Caterpillar shares in other funds). This was a major victory for the We Divest Campaign, the largest coalition-led U.S. divestment campaign in the country, which calls on TIAA-CREF to divest from companies involved in the Israeli occupation, including Veolia and HP.
These are just a few of the extraordinary victories this year in the movement to end U.S. institutional support for Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. Many more are surely on the way, as many campaigns forge ahead. This Thursday, September 27, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals will hear arguments in an appeal brought by member group Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign against the Minnesota State Board of Investment.
Let’s continue to show our support for corporate accountability by clicking here to thank FFC for divesting from Veolia and HP!