BDS victory: TIAA-CREF drops Caterpillar from social choice funds

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 57 Comments
CAT smal
(Image: We Divest Campaign)

The We Divest Campaign sent out the following press release:

June 21, 2012- Pension fund giant TIAA-CREF has removed Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. As of May 1, 2012, financial data posted on TIAA-CREF’s website valued Social Choice Funds shares in Caterpillar at $72,943,861. Today it is zero.

“We applaud this decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign (www.wedivest.org). “It’s long past time that TIAA-CREF began living up to its motto of ‘Financial Services for the Greater Good’ when it comes to the people of Israel and Palestine.”

Since 2010, We Divest has been urging TIAA-CREF to drop Caterpillar and other companies profiting from and facilitating Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

“By selling weaponized bulldozers to Israel, Caterpillar is complicit in Israel’s systematic violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Rabbi Wise. “We’re glad to see that the socially responsible investment community appears to be recognizing this and is starting to take appropriate action.”

Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.

In the coming weeks, many will be watching the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly taking place in Pittsburgh, where church commissioners will vote on a motion to divest from Caterpillar and two other companies, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, that remain in TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds.

Last month, Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker institution, divested $900,000 worth of shares in Caterpillar stating: “We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock.”

Background

  •  The Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate with Caterpillar before calling for selective divestment. MRTI’s report on engagement with companies on Israel/Palestine-related issues noted that:
    •        Caterpillar’s complicity in non-peaceful pursuits led the 2010 General Assembly to denounce the company’s profiting from involvement in human rights violations. Sadly, despite significant support for the shareholder resolution calling for a review of its human rights policy, Caterpillar has become even more intransigent. It has cut off all communication with the religious shareholders. Caterpillar continues to accept no responsibility for the end use of their products. 
  •   In 2004, Amnesty International urged Caterpillar to take action in response to the documented use of its bulldozers to violate international law in the occupied territories, noting that “thousands of families have had their homes and possessions destroyed under the blades of the Israeli army’s US-made Caterpillar bulldozers.”
  • Human Rights Watch, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Presbyterian Church USA have all made similar recommendations to Caterpillar, to no avail.
  •  In 2003, a Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier killed American activist Rachel Corrie while she nonviolently protested the demolition of Palestinian homes in the town of Rafah, in Gaza.
What Others Are Saying
Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and founding member of the BDS movement said, “CAT is out of the bag of TIAA-CREF’s SRI companies thanks to the inspiring campaign waged by JVP and its partners, with vision, persistence and tactical skillfulness. Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee (BNC), deeply appreciates these efforts and believes that more pressure will ultimately convince TIAA-CREF to fulfill its basic moral obligation to finally divest from CAT and all other corporations that are complicit in Israel’s grave and escalating violations of international law and human rights.”

Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel Corrie’s parents said: “For nearly a decade, we have witnessed human rights abuses committed with Caterpillar equipment in the West Bank and Gaza and have joined thousands who have asked the company to stop supporting these actions.  We are hugely gratified that TIAA-CREF has taken this step.  When governments and corporations avoid responsibility, we must refuse to profit from their abuses. Our family salutes and thanks TIAA-CREF for this decision that moves all of us closer to accountability.”   

Anna Baltzer, National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation — a coalition of more than 380 organizations around the country — and a member group of the We Divest Campaign Coordinating Committee, stated: “After years of Caterpillar refusing to change its practices, we are gratified that the U.S. corporation and others like it are seeing that support for Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies comes at a dear cost. There can be no more business as usual with such institutions. The tide is turning.”

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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57 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    June 21, 2012, 10:39 am

    over 72 million dollars dropped

    good work, bless you.

    • Fredblogs
      June 21, 2012, 2:17 pm

      Did they divest, or just move the stock from one category into another?

      • Fredblogs
        June 21, 2012, 2:29 pm

        link to tiaa-cref.org
        Never mind, I found the answer myself. They didn’t divest, they just moved it from one pocket to another.

        They currently have $371 million worth of shares.

      • Dutch
        June 21, 2012, 4:04 pm

        No, they divested from Caterpillar within their Social Choice Funds. Yes, they still hold $ 371 million worth of stocks in other funds. So in total they seem to have dropped one sixth of their Caterpillar-stock. That surely means good news, but it is also disappointing. There still is work to be done, Fred.

      • Fredblogs
        June 21, 2012, 6:12 pm

        So are you going to update the article, or just leave it in its current form?

      • Fredblogs
        June 21, 2012, 6:31 pm

        Ah, have you got a link showing that they actually sold $72 million worth of shares on the market rather than just transferring it to their general holdings?

      • Sumud
        June 21, 2012, 7:18 pm

        They didn’t divest, they just moved it from one pocket to another.

        How do you know they moved it from one pocket to another? Do you know what the previous amount in the ‘Stock’ category was before this divestment?

        Either way, I’m more than happy for you to think BDS isn’t succeeding.

        BDS for South Africa didn’t succeed for 35 years, then – it did.

  2. Les
    June 21, 2012, 10:56 am

    Special credit to Jewish Voices for Peace which has been lobbying and demonstrating for this at TIAA-CREF for years. This is huge and you deserve our congratulations.

    • Kris
      June 21, 2012, 11:28 am

      Hooray for Jewish Voice for Peace! Here’s one of their brilliant flashmob performances. focused on TIAA-CREF, in Times Square: link to youtube.com
      and here’s another great BDS flashmob, in Portland, Oregon, at a New Seasons grocery store:

  3. giladg
    June 21, 2012, 10:57 am

    They boycotted Israel on vital electronics for aircraft. Israel developed its own and is a world leader and also exports. They want Israeli products because they are the best.
    They fired rockets into Israel relentlessly. Israel developed anti-rocket systems and is a world leader in this technology and now exports. They want Israeli products because they are the best.
    They refused to sell certain anti-aircraft misiles to Israel. Israel developed its own and now exports. They want Israeli products because they are the best.

    Who’s next? What’s next?

    By the way, this is a message to the Jews in the North & South America,Europe, Australia and elsewhere. This is the time to make Aliyah. Israel is going through a creativity phase, in the arts and sciences. The struggles Israel is facing and the dangers Jews are facing are real and this is the time to join your brothers and sitters at home in Israel. Come, we need you. They attack Israel from all sides, but what they are really doing is attacking Jews. Don’t waste your time with the Palestinian propaganda machine. They are wrong. The Palestinian struggle is not the struggle of our time. This is not the 1960’s with the anti Vietnam thing. Don’t force the comparison between the two.

    • Sumud
      June 21, 2012, 11:19 am

      A country that eats, drinks, sleeps, breathes and thinks about war 24/7 like Israel does is not sustainable.

      Smart jews are leaving Israel, disgusted by the descent into fascism, leaving only the extremist and nut jobs. When they are in charge there will be an attempt to exterminate the Palestinians – and ‘poof’ – Israel will be over, quick as you can can snap your fingers.

      You talk about a ‘creativity phase, in the arts and sciences’ but what is the product? Machinery of death and oppression. That’s not creative, it’s very cynical war profiteering.

      • seafoid
        June 21, 2012, 11:52 am

        Sumud
        re Machinery of death and oppression

        I think this fits the cult of zionism

        link to nybooks.com

        In the afterword to that book, he argues that the Aum cult arose for several reasons: “in Aum they found a purity of purpose they could not find in ordinary society,” and, more tellingly, the cultists lacked “a broad world vision,” with the consequence that they experienced “the alienation between language and action that results from this.” In effect, they suffered from Unrealism and from the dark powers that arise from it: “language and logic cut off from reality have a far greater power than the language and logic of reality—with all that extraneous matter weighing down like a rock on any actions we take.

    • BillM
      June 21, 2012, 12:46 pm

      And yet Israel still demands $3-4 billion per year from the US. Maybe they should just get on with being “the best,” and quit demanding others subsidize them, huh?

    • Light
      June 21, 2012, 1:01 pm

      GiladG, Israel and Judaism are not the same thing. Jews in the United States and throughout most of the world are doing just fine. It is time for Israel to stop stealing from and oppressing the Palestinians. The world will accept Israel when Israel ends its racist policies and accepts and treats Palestinians as equals.

      • giladg
        June 21, 2012, 5:19 pm

        You Light, BillM and others have no idea what it costs to be able to maintain an army ready to defend against the Arab and Muslim armies, near and far. This is not Switzerland and Austria arguing some border dispute.
        Those who understand know that the only thing preventing war is a strong Israeli army. The Palestinians pretend they are not part of the greater Arab world and are some special entity. They are one and the same thing.

        And let me tell you something ‘Light’. If not for Israel you, a Jew sitting in NY somewhere, will feel the heat, just like in the 1930’s when the Nazi party filled Madison Square Garden with 20,000 supporters all dressed in Nazi gear. If you want I’ll send you the link to the video. No denying this one.

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 21, 2012, 6:29 pm

        “You Light, BillM and others have no idea what it costs to be able to maintain an army ready to defend against the Arab and Muslim armies, near and far.”

        Yeah, and if you people accepted the Arab Peace Plan — a plan more generous to you thieving murderers than you deserve — then you wouldn’t have to spend it. Oh, but that would mean that you would have to be satisfied with stealing 3/4 of Palestine and you would have to stop oppressing innocent people, including children.

        “If not for Israel you, a Jew sitting in NY somewhere, will feel the heat…”

        Go to hell. Jews are safer in NY than in your shitty little state because the people in the US — as messed up as we are, and even including a lot of the morons among us — understand that an ethno-supremacist apartheid state like you people have is not only no way to protect ourselves, it is flat out evil. So, no Americans Jews don’t need your shitty-ass country for US Jews to be safe. That’s what their fellow US citizens are for.

        “the Nazi party filled Madison Square Garden with 20,000 supporters all dressed in Nazi gear.”

        And a lot has changed in the US since 1930. Of course, I’ll bet you can still get 20,000 of you people to dress in white and goose-step your way across al-Quds flying your evil rags to threaten the people whose city you’ve stolen. Here, in 2012. The shame of my country’s 1930’s is the evil of your present.

      • Light
        June 21, 2012, 7:01 pm

        “The Palestinians pretend they are not part of the greater Arab world and are some special entity. They are one and the same thing.”

        GiladG, Palestinians are part of the Arab world as Americans are part of the English speaking world and Mexicans are part of the Hispanic world. Have you ever actually met a Palestinian?

      • Sumud
        June 21, 2012, 7:24 pm

        The shame of my country’s 1930′s is the evil of your present.

        +1 Woody.

        Rallies in Jerusalem with the youth screaming “death to arabs” and black people being attacked on the streets – and giladg thinks NY jews are supposed to find that appealing?!

      • Dexter
        June 22, 2012, 2:52 am

        …and do you check underneath your bed for the boogey-man every night?

        Talk about scared, delusional, and brainwashed

      • Annie Robbins
        June 22, 2012, 3:10 am

        And let me tell you something ‘Light’. If not for Israel you…. will feel the heat…Arab and Muslim armies, near and far..the only thing preventing war is a strong Israeli army..

        be afraid..be very very afraid …Arab and Muslims are under your mattress..they are everywhere..like ..just like in the 1930′s when the Nazi

        triple ouch..omg..gilad..i am beginning to see the ‘light’ of your forever darkness and fear…

      • giladg
        June 22, 2012, 7:12 am

        Annie, it’s called “eyes open”. It’s much more fun being an optimist and pretending that some things just never happened. Facts can really spoil the party sometimes. Damn those realists, they can be so negative sometimes.
        And yes, there is an Arab under my mattress right now, and an evil one at that.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 22, 2012, 12:23 pm

        you call yourself a realist gilad? a real quacking fear monger more like it.

      • Dexter
        June 22, 2012, 3:36 pm

        You have no clue what realism means.

        Yes, facts do spoil the party: the fact is you and your European brethren stole the land you’re on, the home you’re in, and the bed you’re on from Palestinians. But that fact is inconvenient for you isn’t it…

        You and those like you are becoming more irrelevant with every passing day.

      • Mooser
        June 22, 2012, 6:09 pm

        ” If not for Israel you, a Jew sitting in NY somewhere, will feel the heat, just like in the 1930′s when the Nazi party filled Madison Square Garden with 20,000 supporters all dressed in Nazi gear. If you want I’ll send you the link to the video. No denying this one.”

        Jeez the thought of those 20,000 American Nazi supporters waiting since the 1930’s to strike at America’s Jewish citizens gives me the willies. Wow, when somebody finally lets them all loose, they will go crazy on us Jews.
        It’s just horrible! Here we have a group which has discovered a sure-fire anti-aging formula, and how are they going to use it? To attack the Jews! What a horrible world! Good thing Israel can deposit a Jew-defending army behind US borders with nobody noticing! Anyway, I’m sure the military and police forces of the US will be delighted to have an Israeli Jew-defending army to deal with the Nazi Zombies, or whatever they are.

        Anyway, gilad’s little screed does definitively answer one question: Ziocaine does cause hallucinations.

      • eljay
        June 22, 2012, 6:42 pm

        >> Jeez the thought of those 20,000 American Nazi supporters waiting since the 1930′s to strike at America’s Jewish citizens gives me the willies.

        I bet it doesn’t give you nearly as many willies as the thought of Iran waiting 4,000 years to develop nukes! (Which, AFAanyoneK, it hasn’t actually developed yet.)

    • FreddyV
      June 21, 2012, 1:11 pm

      ‘Israel developed anti-rocket systems and is a world leader in this technology and now exports.’

      Really? Do you mean by ‘export’, do you mean getting the US to pick up the tab for Iron Dome?

      • giladg
        June 21, 2012, 5:32 pm

        The US is a partner and will benefit financially in a big way. Many technologies used by the US, were developed in Israel at a fraction of the cost of doing the same in the US. So with the export potential the US retains, both Israel and the US benefit from the arrangement. Israel cannot survive without the US and is eternally grateful for all the assistance. However, there have been some in various US administrations and in security positions that have not understood this special arrangement and have acted against Israel. This is unfortunate but the bigger picture is the one to focus on.

      • Sumud
        June 21, 2012, 7:32 pm

        Israel cannot survive without the US and is eternally grateful for all the assistance.

        Israel can survive without the US if it changes its behaviour towards Palestinians. Israel wants to eliminate the Palestinians so as to permanently control 100% of mandate Palestine. Not gonna happen.

        These “arab and muslim” armies you refer to belong to the Arab League states responsible for the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which is also supported by all 57 states in the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), including Iran.

        It’s a very reasonable plan, but if you’re a greedy zionist pig and can’t stand to see Palestinians have even 22% of mandate Palestine of course you’re going to oink oink about those nasty ayrabs and moozlims.

        Israel cannot survive without the US and is eternally grateful for all the assistance.

        Ha ha ha, I just had to repeat the quote because that bit is too funny.

      • sardelapasti
        June 22, 2012, 2:09 am

        Can’t we stop talking to stupid Propaganda robots, please? Boycotting is nice but these… things must be made to feel that they and their Zionism are not acceptable at all in civilized society.

      • Miss Costello
        June 22, 2012, 7:56 am

        giladg; Why no reply to Woody? The silence speaks volumes.

    • FreddyV
      June 21, 2012, 1:26 pm

      ‘They attack Israel from all sides, but what they are really doing is attacking Jews. Don’t waste your time with the Palestinian propaganda machine. They are wrong. The Palestinian struggle is not the struggle of our time. This is not the 1960′s with the anti Vietnam thing. Don’t force the comparison between the two.’

      Is that your mindset? Really quite paranoid delusional and completely detached from reality. Wow. Good luck with sleeping at night……

    • American
      June 21, 2012, 3:05 pm

      “They attack Israel from all sides, but what they are really doing is attacking Jews. …gilad

      BSh@t….we only attack the ones that “get in the way” including non Jews…isn’t that the IDF practice/claim, attacking Palestines who “get in the way” of Israel…. you shouldn’t expect different treatment.

    • Citizen
      June 21, 2012, 6:01 pm

      Americans here should know that giladg’s version of Israeli creativity is bogus; here’s a few snippets more objectively revealing Israel’s “creative” nature:

      “The FBI launched an investigation into how AIPAC obtained and circulated copies of the classified report during the most critical negotiation period. The ITC confirmed in 2008 that the Israeli government also obtained a copy of the classified report. Industry groups such as the US Bromine Alliance obtained verification from the ITC on November 1, 1984 that all of their most closely guarded trade secrets had been obtained by AIPAC (see appendix).
      In the following quarter century Israeli manufacturers and the Israeli government have continued to systematically violate US IP rights. In the case of American military and defense systems, Israel has a long history of reverse engineering, copying, manufacturing and exporting unauthorized versions of US systems. In doing so, Israeli manufacturers have not only deprived American manufacturers of revenue and US workers high paying jobs, but also negatively altered the strategic and tactical military balance of power. US taxpayers who subsidized the research, development, and deployment costs for weapons have witnessed the tragedy of US military personnel facing weapons on the battlefield from illicitly manufactured Israeli systems obtained by rogue states.”
      ————
      “The American pharmaceutical industry has recently faced systemic industry-government violations of IP rights in the form of an ongoing IP “trap” in which confidential clinical dossiers are purposely misused. While US pharmaceutical industry representatives insisted that Israel remain on the USTR Priority Watch List for the past four years, no effective action has been taken against egregious behavior. The Israeli government regulatory agency solicits patented data and formulas under the auspices of granting approval of drugs for the Israeli market. It delays the approval process while data is obtained by Israeli drug-makers. These manufacturers then commercialize cutting edge US innovations world wide. Israeli IP laws have been purposely weakened and placed out of sync with major industrial countries that all permit longer patent terms so inventors can recoup investments in new drugs before patents expire. The short periods left to recover investments have left US pharmaceutical manufacturers at a major disadvantage to Israeli generic drug manufacturers benefiting from global sales enabled by ever weaker IP protection. US consumers and taxpayers funding medical research are indirectly subsidizing the clinical dossiers upon which Israeli generic drug manufacturers capitalize by selling back into the American market.”
      ————–

      “Israel’s leading duty free export to the American market—precious stones, metals and coins—has grown under the FTA preferences to 20.6% of the total US import demand. But the value chain of Israel’s leading export leaves a trail of violence, corruption, and property theft. LLD Diamonds Ltd., owned by Israeli-American Lev Leviev exported $417 million in cut diamonds from Israeli to the US in 2008. Leviev has been cited for human rights abuses in Angola and Namibia where Leviev companies source rough diamonds. Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups have documented how Leviev revenues finance illegal settlement construction in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Leviev’s overseas activities not only violate international law, but also US foreign policy initiatives against illegal Israeli colonization. Preferential Israeli access to the US market under the FTA enables LLD Diamond’s illicit activities.

      In summary, the flawed process that produced the US-Israel Free Trade Area was itself a violation of the IP of American industries. The USTR and ITC are partially culpable for failing to secure sensitive US information that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Israel had no right to obtain, possess or utilize. The subsequent pattern of ongoing violations and negative outcomes for American stakeholders place this trade agreement in the column of the types of “failed programs” that President Barak Obama has promised Americans he would reevaluate.”
      link to irmep.org

    • Mooser
      June 22, 2012, 4:35 pm

      “By the way, this is a message to the Jews in the North & South America,Europe, Australia and elsewhere. This is the time to make Aliyah.”

      You tell ‘em, Giladg! But listen, you could personalise your plea, and maybe get better results. Why don’t you appeal directly to “Hophmi” and “Fredblogs”? I mean considering what you say, isn’t it disloyal for them to stick on here in the US, instead of going to Israel where they belong. But please, Giladg, don’t be too brutal about Jews who stay in the US for their own personal and economic comfort, when Israel needs them so badly. I mean, they might as well just spit in God’s eye, huh? How dare they stay in this anti-Semetic stronghold when Israel needs them. I’m sure if you tell them about all the great opportunities they will miss by not being in Israel! And don’t forget to add the kicker: No more Christmas decorations to assault them!

      • Mooser
        June 22, 2012, 6:12 pm

        Hey Gilad, did you send them the video of the 20,000 American Nazi supporters in Madison Square Garden, still there after 70+ years? Man if that don’t send them right down to the El Al terminal, I don’t know what will!

    • Daniel Rich
      June 22, 2012, 5:24 pm

      @ giladg.,

      Q: They boycotted Israel on vital electronics for aircraft. Israel developed its own and is a world leader and also exports.

      R: Cool. So we can finally cut that annual $ 10 billion Israeli paycheck?

    • eljay
      June 22, 2012, 6:51 pm

      >> By the way, this is a message to the Jews in the North & South America,Europe, Australia and elsewhere. This is the time to make Aliyah. … The struggles Israel is facing and the dangers Jews are facing are real and this is the time to join your brothers and sitters at home in Israel. Come, we need you.

      The struggles the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist state of Israel is facing and the dangers the Zio-supremacists are facing are real time. The best thing Jews can do is to distance themselves from these psychotic, supremacist f*cks.

  4. HarryLaw
    June 21, 2012, 11:14 am

    Wonderful news, by divesting in caterpillar TIAA-CREF can only encourage other pension fund holders and companies to do the right thing, 72 million is no small sum,and could be the start of an unstoppable trend, even the most ruthless and unscrupulous investor knows it is not nice or financially sound[in the long term] to invest in war crimes.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    June 21, 2012, 4:17 pm

    RE: “BDS victory: TIAA-CREF drops Caterpillar from social choice funds”

    MY COMMENT: This is wonderful news. It is also a great demonstration of how persistence pays off.
    I recently made a small donation to the We Divest Campaign of Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and the other partners.
    You can make a tax-deductible gift to the We Divest Campaign by clicking HERE. Please note: Jewish Voice for Peace is the fiscal sponsor of the We Divest Campaign.

  6. Dexter
    June 22, 2012, 2:53 am

    Not bad for a “cult” huh Normie?

  7. American
    June 22, 2012, 4:05 am

    This could also be interesting. Also interesting that congress seems determined to unseat Holder at Justice. I am sure some Israel firsters are keeping tabs on this investigation by Justice.

    link to cnbc.com

    Tax Shelters: Why Israel Could Be the Next Switzerland
    Published: Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012 | 3:38 PM ET By: Eamon Javers
    CNBC Washington, DC Correspondent

    It looks like Israel is going to be the next Switzerland — at least as far as the Department of Justice’s investigation into offshore tax avoidance is concerned.

    On June 14, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against three American tax preparers for helping clients avoid taxes by moving money to Israel.

    The transgressions detailed in the indictment were relatively small-time. The indictment said the father and son duo of David and Nadav Kalai and their colleague David Almog at a firm called United Revenue Service helped several clients duck taxes by moving money to two Israeli banks, identified only as “Bank A” and “Bank B.”

    Most of the financial transactions detailed were small — in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The men could not be reached for comment.

    But the indictment revealed the existence of a grand jury that is almost surely going after much bigger fish. And the details provided in it appear to suggest that “Bank A” is Bank Leumi, whose private banking operation is headquartered in Tel Aviv, and “Bank B” is Bank Hapoalim, which also maintains its global private banking center in Israel’s second-biggest city.

    Calls to Bank Leumi for comment were not returned. Bank Hapoalim provided CNBC with a statement from its chief spokesperson, Ofra Preuss, who said, “we read the press reports and are checking into them.”

    To date, the U.S. government has successfully cracked the code of Swiss bank secrecy, forcing UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, to turn over thousands of names of American account holders to investigators, and taking similar actions against other Swiss institutions.

    Sources tell CNBC the new case is just the beginning of a potential series of indictments, which may snare some of the wealthy American clients who have hidden money in Israel, many for generations. That’s likely to be politically controversial, especially at a time when the U.S. and Israel are working closely together to contain a geopolitical threat from Iran.

    Add to that the political sensitivity of an Obama administration Department of Justice in an election year targeting a group of clients of whom many are likely to be Jewish or have historical family ties to Israel.

    “There are a substantial number of Americans with unreported assets in Israel,” said Scott Michel, a partner at the law firm Caplin & Drysdale who specializes in criminal tax fraud investigations. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it is on a par with Switzerland.”

    Attorney Bryan Skarlatos, a partner at the firm Kostelanetz & Fink LLP, said that he has clients who are being questioned in the wide-ranging investigation into Israeli bankers.

    “I have special agents asking questions about specific banks,” Skarlatos said. “They need evidence that somebody spoke to a banker and the banker had a sense that they were dealing with a U.S. person — they’re asking ‘did you give them your U.S. passport?’”

    • American
      June 22, 2012, 4:16 am

      I would love it if Justice came across some of that 9 billion that disappeared from Iraq that I bet you dollars to doughnuts landed in Israel. ….maybe Dan Senior and Bremmer will show up on secret bank accounts..LOL….woudn’t that be wubderful?

      • Mooser
        June 22, 2012, 4:40 pm

        “I would love it if Justice came across some of that 9 billion that disappeared from Iraq that I bet you dollars to doughnuts landed in Israel”

        I’m sure no Christian, let alone any of our soldier-heroes, or our contracter-heroes had anything to do with it.

      • American
        June 23, 2012, 1:00 am

        Oh shut up Mooser…..Bremmer as far as I know isn’t Jewish.
        But do I think some of the well placed Israel firster zios and AIPAC’ers in Bremmer’s Iraq office would hestitate to shuffle some money to Israel?…hell no I don’t think they would hestitate…. Israel has stolen a whole country, what’s a little cash.

      • proudzionist777
        June 23, 2012, 8:52 am

        @American

        And who was behind the anthrax attacks?

      • CloakAndDagger
        June 23, 2012, 1:31 pm

        @ proudzionist777
        I take it you know who – or are you just trying to bait American to say something that you could construe as anti-semitic?

      • American
        June 23, 2012, 3:37 pm

        I’m game PZ……I think it likely that some off the wall zio fanatic(s) with ‘connections ‘ or some other non Jewish apocalyptic fanatic(s) with ‘connections’ wanting to throw fuel on the flames of 911 to encourage that’ clash of civilizations war’ both types are eager to see did it. One thing is for certain it wasn ‘t some random off the street fanatic because it was proven how limited the access was ( only two facilites I think) to the strain of anthrax used. It wasn’t something any John Doe could pick up off the street.

      • proudzionist777
        June 23, 2012, 6:24 pm

        Of course this is what I expected from you all along. Gutter anti-Semitism.

        It’s good that you’ve revealed your true feelings.
        I think that it’s vital that sometimes we look into the sewer to have a ‘look see’.

        Thanks for being honest anyway.

        PS. I wonder how many of this site’s contributors will repudiate your claims.

      • CloakAndDagger
        June 23, 2012, 10:00 pm

        Damn! I hate being right!

      • Danaa
        June 23, 2012, 10:07 pm

        It is certainly interesting how quickly hushed the Anthrax investigations became, after they supposedly found a culprit (Ivins) who, based, on what has come to light since did not have the means to make the highly specialized Anthrax used in the attacks. The interesting thing is the way the congressional investigation pushed by Leahy was dropped and the unbelievable quiet that has since transcended upon the land.

        Ask yourselves; if there was any doubt about a terrorist attack as deadly and professional as this, with the tracks hidden so well and with at least one suspect already exonerated following a huge settlement, would it not have generated substantially more noise? if Fast and Furious that resulted in one death led to such a hoopla in congress – entangling two presidents along the way, why the Anthrax case, with 5 times more victims – and far more dire implications – is so clearly pushed under the carpet? where have all the investigative reporters gone to? why are all the blogs (well, almost all, not Glenn Greenwald) content to move along?

        The ultimate question is simple – or should be – if it wasn’t Ivins (or not only ivins, whose colleagues believe him to be utterly innocent of the crime to this day), who could it be, given the nature of the powder? who has the capability and where is it residing?

        Perhaps we should look to the Stuxnet and Flame viruses to learn something about bacterial infestations?

      • Sumud
        June 24, 2012, 12:36 am

        Of course this is what I expected from you all along. Gutter anti-Semitism.

        I wouldn’t say you were expecting it, more that you were fantasising about it – and American refused to attend your little pity party so you decided to accuse him anyway…

        Let’s recap on what American actually said:

        I think it likely that some off the wall zio fanatic(s) with ‘connections ‘ or some other non Jewish apocalyptic fanatic(s) with ‘connections’ wanting to throw fuel on the flames of 911 to encourage that’ clash of civilizations war’ both types are eager to see did it.

        So American speculates that it was “zio fanatic(s)” or “non Jewish apocalyptic fanatic(s)” and that’s gutter anti-semitism?

        Desperate aren’t you?

        The first fanatics could be jewish or christian zionists, and the second are completely non-jewish. Talk about hatred for jews, I mean it’s just so obvious isn’t it?

      • ColinWright
        June 24, 2012, 3:19 am

        American says: ‘I think it likely that some off the wall zio fanatic(s) with ‘connections ‘ or some other non Jewish apocalyptic fanatic(s)…’

        ProudZionist replies: ‘Of course this is what I expected from you all along. Gutter anti-Semitism…’

        I’m curious. Where’s the anti-semitism?

    • Annie Robbins
      June 23, 2012, 3:16 pm

      thanks for the link american. i wonder if this is related to the bust up of those investors in la a couple years ago. they said at the time it was likely to reel in much bigger fish. i think it has been ongoing just hardly in the press. and the switzerland story has dropped off the pages but that was a big story when it first came out, i think in vanity faire.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 23, 2012, 3:48 pm

        just noticed a google search of U.S. v. Almog, 11-00930 brings up 34 google pages of links. so why isn’t this on the front page of wapo and the nyt?

        link to in.reuters.com

  8. proudzionist777
    June 23, 2012, 2:15 pm

    BDS SUCKERS A WILLING MONDOWEISS! Fool me twice!

    As Divest This! reports:

    Once more, a hoax tale seems to be centered on TIAA-CREF. If you recall, the boycotters were caught red-handed several years ago trying to pass off a generic business decision by the retirement giant as a response to their request to get the organization to divest from Israel.

    Rather than simply act as though the whole incident never happened, the BDSers took the unusual step of launching a multi-year campaign to get TIAA-CREF to actually do what they had simply pretended they did the year before.

    The response to date from CREF has been a series of polite “please piss off” messages. Which is why this recent announcement that their divestment campaign has borne fruit seems mighty suspicious indeed.

    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).

    Indeed, we can see that TIAA-CREF still has tens of millions invested in Caterpillar in other funds: $21 million in their Growth and Income Fund, a similar amount in their Large Cap Growth Fund, and $10 million more in their Enhanced Large Cap Growth Fund.

    Doesn’t sound like divestment, does it?

    In fact, TIAA-CREF has explicitly said why they won’t divest from Caterpillar:
    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

    • Annie Robbins
      June 23, 2012, 3:04 pm

      pz,can you find a more updated statement from tiaa cref? the one cited in that article is from 2010:

      link to tiaa-cref.org

      also, do not copy and paste directly from elders of zion sans attribution. i’m not even going to bother with a rebuttal for that drivel.

    • ColinWright
      June 24, 2012, 3:28 am

      The argument here is pretty weak:

      “…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…”

      So say if I look at my handy-dandy boycott list and discover Starbucks supports Israel and therefore stop going to Starbucks, I’m not making a politically-motivated decision but simply following the list others generated?

      I guess we’re all happy. I don’t go to Starbucks because I’ve been told its head honcho supports Israel, and you can declare it’s because I don’t like delicious iced coffee things.

      At the end of the day, Investing in Israel is now excluded from the ‘socially responsible’ category. You can rephrase that any way you like: it’s still how the matter stands. If TIAA-Cref is using some generic list others rely on as well, that makes the news even better.

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