Danish pension fund blacklists four Israeli companies linked to settlements

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Following a report released by Danwatch in January, Denmark’s third largest pension fund, Sampension, moved to exclude four publicly traded companies from their portfolio due to their investments in illegal Israeli settlement activities. The move is a major win for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has increasingly come under fire in recent years as Israel and its allies have pushed to squash growing popularity with new legislation and political pressure on both public and private institutions.

Danwatch’s report, Business on Occupied Territory, found that Sampension with $46.1 billion under its management, was the Danish pension fund that had been investing the largest sums of money in companies that do business in or around illegal Israeli settlements.

Ana Sanchez, speaking on behalf of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian coalition that leads the global BDS movement for Palestinian rights, welcomed the move, telling Mondoweiss it represents  “the latest indicator of the mounting pressure on businesses that are deeply complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights to stop profiting from Israel’s military occupation and apartheid.”

“All pension and investments funds must divest from Israeli and international companies that are involved in Israel’s human rights violations not just in response to the BDS call issued by Palestinian civil society but also in compliance with UN principles and guidelines on business and human rights,” Sanchez said.

According to Danwatch, Sampension chose to revise its investment guidelines following the report. In accordance to its new guidelines, Sampension excluded four Israeli companies from its portfolio.

The four companies excluded due to their involvement in settlement activity are all listed as companies targeted by the BDS movement. They were identified as two Israeli banks, Hapoalim and Leumi, the German construction company, HeidelbergCement and Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications company, which owns telecommunications equipment installed within settlements, providing the illegal communities with telephone and data signals.

Sampension shared a press release after the move, explaining the shift.

“During 2017, Sampension has expanded its policy and practice for responsible investments in several areas,” the report read. “The focus areas are climate change, human rights and the pursuit of active ownership.”

Director of Investments in Sampension, Henrik Olejasz Larsen, said the four companies were excluded from their investment portfolios due to “the financing of settlements and for the extraction of natural resources and the establishment of infrastructure for telecommunications in the occupied area.”

In addition to the four Israeli companies already blacklisted on Sampension’s portfolio, the company has stated it is now “initiating a dialogue” with another six companies about possible business activities in Israel’s settlements, according to the most recent Danwatch report.

Banking

Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, also a BDS target, confirmed to Danwatch that it still holds investments in Hapoalim and Leumi, despite reports of the bank’s blacklisting of Hapoalim in 2014.

Last month Israel’s banks came under fire, as Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report criticizing Israeli banks for continuing to allow investments and business exchanges with industries that support illegal Israeli settlements, in contravention of international law.  

Israeli banks, such as Leumi, one of the banks that Sampension blacklisted, told HRW they are required by Israeli law to provide services to settlements, since Israeli banking, consumer, and anti-discrimination law, dictates that banks cannot reject customers based on their place of residence.

However HRW found that Israeli banks “do not have to provide financial services that involve settlements, such as financing construction projects or mortgages for settlement properties, when the grounds for refusal are not the place of residence of the customer but rather the business and human rights considerations stemming from the location of the activities.”

HRW called on banks to use the legal loophole to divest from any investments involved in settlement activities.

Natural Resources

HeidelbergCement, one of the four companies moved to Sampension’s blacklist, is the world’s largest cement producer and a major manufacturer of aggregates and ready-mix concrete, with around $1 billion in revenue, according to Who Profits, a research center dedicated to exposing companies involved in Israeli settlement activity.

The German cement company owns three plants and one aggregates quarry in the occupied West Bank through Hanson Israel, Heidelberg’s local branch.

One of the quarries operates on Palestinian land from the village of al-Zawiya.

“The quarry exploits occupied Palestinian natural resources for the needs of the Israeli construction industry,” Who Profit documented. In addition, once the natural resources, dug up from West Bank land, are turned into building material, they are directly supplied to settlements for building and expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“Materials of stone and gravel extracted from Palestinian land have been providing the raw material needed for the Israeli expansionist construction industry,” Who Profits documented. “Without which the construction sector could not have thrived economically, generating profit for many Israeli companies.”

Last month, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a report revealing that the Palestinian economy was performing “far below potential.”

The report documented that the primary cause of the problem was the “continuing loss of land and natural resources to settlements and the annexation of land in the West Bank.”

According a report released by The Rights Forum, a research center focused on Israel and Palestine, natural stone, or “white oil” is one of Palestine’s most important resources, with the industry providing at least 15 to 20 thousand Palestinian jobs, with an annual contribution of $250 million to the Palestinian economy — however the report found that the stone’s potential value was up to $30 billion.

HRW found that companies such as HeidelbergCement are in direct violation of international humanitarian law “which requires that such natural resources should only be used for the benefit of the (Palestinian) population of the occupied territory.”

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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42 Responses

  1. JosephA
    October 16, 2017, 10:26 am

    Hi Sheren,
    Thanks for sharing this article with good news. May additional companies continue to follow this trend of anti-Colonialism.

  2. Dan Walsh
    October 16, 2017, 11:55 am

    Stripping Palestine of its natural resources, including stone, is nothing new for Zionists.

    See: “Come and Set Up Quarries” poster published by Palestine Zionist Executive, circa 1921

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/come-and-set-up-quarries

    and:

    “Build Industries In Palestine!”

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/poster/build-industries-in-palestine

    • just
      October 16, 2017, 4:51 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Dan. Thoroughly despicable of course, but expected and zionormal.

      Thanks for some good news, Sheren. It’s a shame that Denmark via Sampension and their pensioners were ever involved in these crimes at all. Hopefully, more will be exposed all over the world and then heed the call to BDS. Danwatch is doing really good work.

  3. hophmi
    October 17, 2017, 8:45 am

    Denmark, a country with a major racism and anti-immigrant problem, would prefer deal with Israel, rather than with problems at home. Funny how no one boycotts the white blonde people. Instead, they go after the Jews.

    https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/9112148
    Something Is Unspoken in the State of Denmark https://nyti.ms/2mzYXYE
    https://www.thelocal.dk/20170510/racism-plays-a-key-role-in-migrants-exclusion-in-denmark-report

    • Marnie
      October 17, 2017, 9:57 am

      It’s so sad to be you hophni. Thanks for your usual tripe. #BDS

      • Maghlawatan
        October 18, 2017, 11:59 am

        Every single discussion is derailed by a Ziobot like Hopeless whining about unfair treatment of Israelis. It is systematic. The aim is to detract from the message of the article.

    • eljay
      October 17, 2017, 10:26 am

      || hophmi: .. Funny how no one boycotts the white blonde people. Instead, they go after the Jews. … ||

      Let’s see:
      1. Anti-Semitic conflation all Jews (which are anti-Semitically referred to as “the Jews”) with Israel and Israel with all Jews.
      2. Singling out the world’s only Danish state.
      3. The usual Zionist whataboutery.

      Three fails (four if you count the anti-Semitism as a double hit) in only two sentences. Impressive.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 18, 2017, 11:04 am

        Funny how no one boycotts the white blonde people. Instead, they go after the Jews

        this makes no sense. lots of jewish israelis are white blond people. michael oren for example, he’s about as white as they come. and not all danes are white blond people. bds has nothing to do with the color of anyone’s hair nor anyone’s jewishness.

      • echinococcus
        October 18, 2017, 2:08 pm

        Annie
        Trying logic with rabid racists?
        It don’t work.

    • Misterioso
      October 17, 2017, 10:57 am

      @hophmi

      “Instead, they go after the Jews.”

      Wrong!! They “go after” the racist Zionists and their lackeys.
      Palestinians have the momentum. In the long run, they will be victorious.
      Increasingly, around the world, including the U.S., the entity known as “Israel” is seen for what it is, fascistic, a rogue and a pariah.

      I just received this recent video from a Canadian.
      Check it out!!

      • just
        October 17, 2017, 7:19 pm

        Superb!

        Hope it goes viral. Too many people in the West, ‘world leaders’, Parliaments, and Congress need this very basic education.

        Merci beaucoup, Misterioso.

      • Marnie
        October 18, 2017, 9:44 am

        Incredible that a country that borders the US has such a clear understanding of palestine. You’d think some of it would have rubbed off a bit on its southern neighbor. Oh Canada! #BDS

      • RoHa
        October 20, 2017, 9:50 pm

        It is a shame that Canadians are being dragged into the same Zionist pit as the Americans and Australians. We like to think of Canadians as being like this:

        https://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2017/10/19/the-polite-canadian-way-to-get-rid-of-bears/#comment-70841

    • MHughes976
      October 17, 2017, 11:51 am

      If the Danes who disapprove of the ‘Occupation’ were going after Jews they would surely have done something negative about the people they would most be able to annoy or boycott, i.e. the Jews of Denmark. The Jewish community in Denmark is certainly uneasy, according to its website, about Islamist attacks but it seems to have no fear of Danes in general or of the Danish state. Emigration by Danish Jews to Israel has not been massive, not enough at any rate to produce a marked reduction in the size of the resident Jewish community.

      • lonely rico
        October 19, 2017, 9:14 pm

        > Marnie

        Incredible that a country that borders the US has such a clear understanding of palestine.

        Unfortunately, the understanding of many Canadians is distorted by zio-twisted media, politicians and academics. A majority of Canadians understand the nasty racism of the state of Israel, but it is not of enough interest to get them to hold their quisling politician’s feet to the fire. Zio-scum continue to bully and buy Canadian politicians, just like their American counterparts/stooges.

      • Marnie
        October 20, 2017, 2:42 am

        @ lonely rico

        I should’ve expected that. :^(

    • echinococcus
      October 17, 2017, 12:53 pm

      hop

      Funny how no one boycotts the white blonde people

      https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3932/15437613966_2caa429ec5_b.jpg

    • Mooser
      October 17, 2017, 1:04 pm

      “Funny how no one boycotts the white blonde people. Instead, they go after the Jews.”

      I’ll send you a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and a bar of Dove soap.

      • amigo
        October 17, 2017, 4:33 pm

        “I’ll send you a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and a bar of Dove soap.” Mooser.

        Don,t forget to include the White bread and mayonnaise.

        “assimilation is viewed as a negative, because it involves loss of true self, as in, conforming to a society and denying your essence. imagine, sitting and eating white bread and mayonnaise with your neighbors, but then going home and chowing down on some pastrami on rye, mit a pickle and chicken soup,”yonah fredman

        http://mondoweiss.net/2017/07/israeli-solomon-schechter/

      • Mooser
        October 18, 2017, 12:02 pm

        ” imagine, sitting and eating white bread and mayonnaise with your neighbors, but then going home and chowing down on some pastrami on rye, mit a pickle and chicken soup,”yonah fredman”

        No matter what shape your stomach’s in…

      • Mooser
        October 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

        ” imagine, sitting and eating white bread and mayonnaise with your neighbors”

        Imagine them eating that and thinking, ’til he showed up, this was a BLT’!

      • Mooser
        October 22, 2017, 1:20 pm

        “Imagine them eating that and thinking, ’til he showed up, this was a BLT’!”

        That actually happened to me once, long time ago. An X-mas leftovers lunch suddenly turned vegetarian when I got invited to put on the nose-bag with the family. I said, please, don’t mind me, serve the baked ham.

    • Kaisa of Finland
      October 17, 2017, 3:31 pm

      hophmi:

      Of all the people, one would think you would be the one not critizicing “Dansk Folkeparti”, because they are the one’s who are supporting right-wing Zionists in Israel through European Friends of Israel.

      What comes to the latest immigration laws, the reasons behind them are that in some areas and schools the Danish Laws have been broken and radical versions of Islam has been taught. Many of the moderate Muslims support these laws too, to prevent radicalization. (I could not find a link in English, but if you are interested in the issue, maybe you can find some..)

      http://nyheder.tv2.dk/samfund/2017-07-15-her-er-det-mistaenkelige-materiale-der-har-sat-muslimsk-friskole-under-skaerpet

      • Kaisa of Finland
        October 17, 2017, 4:44 pm

        p.s. Hophmi (connected to your earlier links):

        Dansk Folkeparti* is like the “Donald Trump of Denmark”: They can say lots of things, but they alone do not decide for the laws..

        *”Danish People’s Party”

    • RoHa
      October 18, 2017, 9:32 am

      “Funny how no one boycotts the white blonde people. Instead, they go after the Jews.”

      White blonde Germans were boycotted in 1933. In 2014 sanctions were set up against white blonde Russians.

    • just
      October 18, 2017, 4:52 pm

      “Funny how no one boycotts the white blonde people. Instead, they go after the Jews.”

      I guess you know zero about the successful boycott of, divestment from, and economic sanctions on South Africa…

      Lots of “white blonde people” there.

  4. David Plimpton
    October 17, 2017, 11:15 am

    This is good news.

    Could the mainstream American press also be taking more of an interest in BDS, especially in light of the disingenuous, wrong-headed, and unconstitutional attacks on BDS by the Israel Lobby and its henchmen? A small Exhibit A may be the publication of my letter to the editor by the Portland (Maine) Press Herald on October 14, 2017 (in the print and online editions), as follows:

    “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720 and H.R. 1697), introduced in Congress this year, is clearly an unconstitutional infringement of civil rights (per the Supreme Court, the First Amendment now covers words, money and political action).

    This proposal would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. It was drafted with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, part of the Israel lobby. AIPAC, in its 2017 lobbying agenda, identified passage of this bill as one of its top priorities.

    I am proud of my Jewish heritage. My forebears in the Wolfe, Opper, Levy and Barnett families came to this country long ago for the very freedoms that the Israel lobby now seeks to destroy (including Benjamin Wolfe, my fifth great-grandfather, one of the founders of the sixth-oldest Jewish congregation in America, Congregation Beth Ahabah, in Richmond, Virginia).

    Criticism of Israel and the Israel lobby is not anti-Semitism, and everyone knows it. Many people feel that our tax dollars and other support of Israel, and its dangerous agenda in the Middle East, is not in the best interests of this country. I ask our elected representatives, please, to oppose this form of totalitarianism and to preserve our rights to criticize and oppose Israel and the Israel lobby without fear of condemnation, accusation of hate crimes and criminal penalties.

    David Plimpton”

    I was also heartened by the fact that my letter was the lead letter in both the online and print editions and that the print edition had “Boycotting Israel is my civil right” as a headline above all the letters to the editor, an Associated Press representation of a hand holding a placard which read: BOYCOTT UNTIL ISRAEL COMPLIES WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW”, beneath which was a caption: “A proposed law making it a felony to support an international boycott of Israel would violate the First Amendment, says reader.”

  5. just
    October 18, 2017, 4:29 pm

    Some rather good news, but infinitely sad that it is “unprecendented”:

    “In Unprecedented Move, Eight European Countries to Demand Compensation From Israel for West Bank Demolitions …

    Eight European Union countries wrote an official protest letter to Israel, demanding over €30,000 ($35,400) in compensation for confiscating and demolishing structures and infrastructure which the countries had built in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control.

    A senior European diplomat told Haaretz that the letter, which is the first of its kind, was expected to be delivered to senior Foreign Ministry officials within a few days.

    According to the European diplomat, Belgium was leading the move. The other countries involved in drafting the letter are France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland and Denmark. All eight countries are members of the West Bank Protection Consortium, a body through which they coordinate humanitarian assistance to Area C.

    The countries were protesting the confiscation of solar panels they had installed in Bedouin communities and the demolition of mobile structures that were financed in various Bedouin communities to serve as classrooms.

    The existence of the protest letter was first reported by the French newspaper Le Monde. In the letter, the eight countries stressed that if Israel does not unconditionally return the equipment it seized, they would demand compensation. The demolition and seizure of humanitarian equipment, including school infrastructure, and the interference in the transfer of humanitarian assistance contravenes Israel’s obligations under international law and causes suffering to the Palestinian residents, the letter said. …

     According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, Belgian Ambassador to Israel Olivier Belle said during the meeting that if Israel did not return the equipment it had seized, his country would formally demand compensation. Belle was the only one at that meeting to raise the issue of compensation, but in the ensuing weeks he apparently managed to persuade his colleagues to turn the demand into a joint agreed-upon position that would be officially conveyed to Israel.

    Israel categorically rejects the demand for compensation. Israel’s position is that the European activity in Area C is not humanitarian assistance but illegal development that is being done without coordinating with Israel and with the aim of strengthening the Palestinians’ hold on Area C. The European position is that under the Geneva Convention, Israel is responsible for dealing with the everyday needs of the Palestinian population in Area C, and since it is not doing so, the European states are stepping in with humanitarian aid.”

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.818017

    Then there’s this weird tidbit:

    “U.S. firm to build solar plants in blackout-plagued Gaza …

    GAZA (Reuters) – The Gaza Strip will have three new solar energy plants operating by April, the U.S.-based energy firm behind the project said on Tuesday, providing the territory with some relief from daily blackouts but far from meeting its severe power shortages. …”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-solar/u-s-firm-to-build-solar-plants-in-blackout-plagued-gaza-idUSKBN1CN1I9

    • just
      October 18, 2017, 6:29 pm

      Ali Abunimah delivers a well- deserved, comprehensive, and stinging rebuke to the EU wrt to the “Unprecedented Move” :

      “How the EU mocks the victims of Israel’s crimes”

      https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/how-eu-mocks-victims-israels-crimes

      • Kaisa of Finland
        October 18, 2017, 9:45 pm

        “How the EU mocks the victims of Israel’s crimes..”

        And this is such a challenging issue, because there are 28 EU member states with large amount of representatives from all of the countries and having a statement of something, you would need some kind of mutual understanding. At the same time you have organizations like “European Friends of Israel”* lobbying it’s “point of views” (apparently with Israelian funding) and both Jewish and Christian Zionists inside EU administration, so in the near future I see the “action” against the occupation, illegal settlements and for some kind of fair solution for the Palestinians coming from the “grassroot level” and from the national states one by one. It is amazing how the Zionist lobby can be found everywhere and that is why the opposite information has to be “pushed through” strong (The Zionist lobby has been very active in selling it’s picture of Israel with “Hummus, Falafel and the sunny beaches of Tel Aviv”..)

        * http://financeisrael.mof.gov.il/FinanceIsrael/Pages/En/News/20110207.aspx

    • Kaisa of Finland
      October 18, 2017, 7:23 pm

      “.., Belgium was leading the move. The other countries involved in drafting the letter are France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland and Denmark..”

      Good news!! And I can only say, I am REALLY!!! irritated we are not on the list yet.. So let the work continue.

      • echinococcus
        October 19, 2017, 1:37 am

        You don’t want to be on the $35,000 list:

        The sum in question is a tiny fraction of the at least $74 million in European-funded aid projects that Israel has destroyed with impunity.

        Ali Abunimah
        https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/how-eu-mocks-victims-israels-crimes

      • Kaisa of Finland
        October 19, 2017, 2:15 pm

        Echi:

        “You don’t want to be on the $35,000 list..”

        We have to start somewhere.. (As I wrote above, EU is so heterogenic in it’s point of views on Israel, that “the action” has to start on national level, country by country.)

        And while the message of the Zionist lobby (borrowed from the link I gave above) in EU is this: “Prof. Fischer pointed to the fact that Israel is a flourishing democracy and noted that when looking at figures, the emerging understanding of Israel is different than what appears in the media..”, then all visibility of “the other side of Israel” is needed visibilty.

      • Kaisa of Finland
        October 19, 2017, 2:31 pm

        p.s. I don’t know, if you can use “heterogenic” in English like that (in Finnish you can)? I meant something like “various, multiple”.. (I hope the point was taken.)

      • echinococcus
        October 19, 2017, 6:30 pm

        Call it “heterogenous” and we have a deal if you also delete the apostrophe in “its” (just saying, and only because you asked.)

      • echinococcus
        October 19, 2017, 11:45 pm

        heterogeneous, dammit.
        Skitt’s law: “Any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself.”

      • Tuyzentfloot
        October 20, 2017, 9:11 am

        echinococcus said: Skitt’s law: “Any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself.”

        Here, that’s clever. I just found the error.

    • RoHa
      October 18, 2017, 8:30 pm

      It won’t help with the nightly blackouts unless they add a storage system.

      • eljay
        October 19, 2017, 7:29 am

        || RoHa: It won’t help with the nightly blackouts unless they add a storage system. ||

        “Storage system” is just a fancy way of saying “new infrastructure for Israel to destroy”.

      • RoHa
        October 19, 2017, 9:48 am

        True, but that applies to just about anything in Gaza.

  6. just
    October 18, 2017, 5:40 pm

    Good article here:

    “‘A legal shield for the Palestine movement in the U.S.’

    Pro-Israel organizations are increasingly using the law to target Palestinian solidarity groups in the United States. Dima Khalidi, head of Palestine Legal, speaks with +972 Magazine about the ‘Palestine exception’ to free speech, and what her organization is doing to fight back. …”

    Much more @ https://972mag.com/a-legal-shield-for-the-palestine-movement-in-the-u-s/130289/

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