Staff & Faculty Letter

Open Letter to TIAA-CREF CEO and President Roger W. Ferguson from Hampshire Faculty and Staff

ATT: Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. President and CEO, TIAA-CREF

RE: TIAA-CREF’s Investments in Companies that Profit from the Occupation of Palestinian Territories

Dear Mr. Ferguson,
We write to you as faculty and staff of Hampshire College who share TIAA-CREF’s stated vision of socially responsible investment. It gravely concerns us to know that a portion of TIAA-CREF retirement portfolio funds are invested in approximately thirty companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. We would like to draw your attention to five corporations in particular: Caterpillar, Elbit Systems, Motorola, Veolia, and Northrop Grumman. Caterpillar bulldozers are routinely used to demolish Palestinians’ homes and uproot their olive trees; Elbit Systems manufactures drones that have been used against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, and missiles from these drones were directly responsible for the deaths of 78 Palestinians, including 29 children, during the 2008/9 assault on Gaza; Motorola manufactures the surveillance equipment for Israel’s checkpoints, watchtowers, settlements, and sniper stations on the illegal “Separation Wall” and throughout the West Bank; Veolia is involved in the construction of, and plans to operate, a light-rail system connecting annexed areas of East Jerusalem with illegal settlements in the West Bank; and Northrop Grumman supplies the Israeli army with Longbow Hellfire II missiles as well as parts for Apache helicopters and F-16 combat jets—all weapons used in “Operation Cast Lead,” which claimed the lives of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. All the above companies actively enable Israel’s ongoing occupation and assaults on Palestinian communities and homes. These actions not only violate our moral values and principles as individuals, but they are also illegal under international law. In 2009, TIAA-CREF wisely divested from four petrochemical companies that were profiting from Sudan’s oppression of the people of Darfur. We applaud this decision and believe that divesting from Israel’s occupation of Palestine is similarly necessary and urgent. Until TIAA-CREF divests from these companies, it contravenes its own principles and is complicit in Israel’s breaches of international law and violations of human rights. We raise this issue with you because of our shared commitment to socially responsible investment. We hope that you too are appalled by the terrible injustices associated with Israel’s occupation. Your company can help put a stop to these injustices. As concerned clients and people of conscience, we urge you to divest TIAA-CREF’s funds from those companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.

Sincerely, The Undersigned

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