Yesterday, Jewish Voice for Peace attended TIAA-CREF's annual meeting as part of its campaign to get the retirement fund to divest from companies profiting off the occupation. The group delivered a petition signed by 15,300 people demanding the fund drop its investments in Caterpillar, Elbit, Motorola, Veolia and Northrop Grumman. Here's an account of how it went:
At the meeting, those who have retirement accounts with the company can stand up and speak. We had a designated speaker delivering the postcards to TIAA-CREF management, and we knew a few other people, mostly professors and teachers, would get up and ask that their money not be invested in companies that profit from discrimination, death, and destruction, and push hope and peace ever further away.
But what happened was extraordinary. First 5, then 10, then 14 people, then more got up, one after another, to speak from the heart about why TIAA CREF must not profit from Israel's occupation. These people weren't just JVP members, but included TIAA-CREF shareholders attending the meeting for entirely different reasons, who were spontaneously moved to speak in support of our campaign.
Not a single person spoke to defend Israel's occupation. Not one.
In response, TIAA-CREF corporate leadership asked to meet with JVP, and they had their first direct talks today. JVP says the fund will respond if they hear from enough people, especially plan participants. You can find the petition to sign here.