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The War of Ideas in the Middle East

Israel Divestment Campaign

Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question to show (or hide) the answer.

What is the Campaign?

The Israel Divestment Campaign is a grassroots effort by California tax-payers and by members of the two public retirement systems, the Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS). The goal of the campaign is to assure that these two pension funds honor their own socially responsible investing policies and start a process of disengagement from corporations that profit from Israel's violation of Palestinian human rights and violations of international law.

Isn't divesting from Israel anti-Semitic?

No. Divestment targets the policies of the State of Israel, not Jewish people or Judaism. Divestment from Israel is no more anti-Semitic than divestment from Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s was anti-White. Jewish organizations, Jewish activists, and prominent Jewish intellectuals have publicly endorsed this measure. Click "Campaign Endorsements" on the menu to see both individual and organizational endorsements.

But aren't Palestinians equally to blame for the violence?

No. Palestinians are overwhelmingly the victims of Israeli violence. A statistical analysis by faculty members at MIT and Tel Aviv University found that "79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian, while only 8% were interrupted by Palestinian attacks." In fact, "of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days." For the cited article, please click here.

Would divestment put retirement pensions at risk?

No. The opposite is true. Governments and corporations around the world are divesting from Israel, and that increases the risk of maintaining investments in corporations that contribute to Israel's human rights violations.

For example, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global has divested from two Israeli companies, Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus, because of involvement in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements. According to Norwegian Minister of Finance Sigbjorn Johnsen, "these companies are contributing to or are themselves responsible for grossly unethical activity."

The Danish Danske and Pensioner Banks have withdrawn all investments from two Israeli companies, Elbit and Magal Security Systems, because of their role in supporting Israeli Apartheid. These banks also decided to divest from Africa-Israel Company.

Recently, Harvard University, T. Rowe Price Group Inc., and Eaton Vance Corp. sold a combined $210 million in Israeli stocks from their emerging markets investments. According to John Derrick, the director of research at U.S. Global Investors Inc., "Israeli stocks might be in no-man's land for a while."

What is Apartheid?

Apartheid, a term meaning 'separateness' in the Afrikaans language, is a system of institutionalized racism. It was practiced by the Republic of South Africa in the form of political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites. In 2002, the International Criminal Court identified Apartheid as a crime against humanity "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

Does Israel practice Apartheid?

Yes. United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine, John Dugard, found in 2007 that "elements of the Israeli occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law." In 2009, South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council concluded that "the State of Israel exercises control in the [Occupied Palestinian Territories] with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid."

Read a short commentary1 on why "Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state"; also read ICAHD-USA's comprehensive analysis2 entitled "Is Israel an Apartheid State?"
1 Jon Booth, The McGill Daily, 11.17.2010
2 Frances H. ReMillard, Israel Committee Against House Demolitions-USA, 03.06.2010