TIAA-CREF Divestment Hoax: Case Closed

Just to confirm the fraudulence of the “TIAA-CREF divested from Israel” storyline still making its way around the Internet, TIAA-CREF has issued a second press release clarifying that the sale of Israel-Africa shares was done months before the organization received any communication from divestment activists as part of a “routine part of the indexing investment process.”

That note about “the indexing investment process” makes claims that TIAA-CREF’s decision has anything to do with the policies of the Israeli government vis-à-vis settlements (or anything else) even more absurd. As any investor (which includes most of us) know, indexing is a process whereby a group (or “index”) of stocks is purchased based on a formula, with stocks in new companies added or removed, also based on a formula. The simplest case would be an S&P 500 Index fund which buys shares in every company on the S&P, selling (or “divesting”) those shares if the company in question is taken off the S&P, and adding shares in new companies that join.

Israel-Africa was part of an MSCI Emerging Market Index which TIAA CREF tracks. While fund managers usually hold their indexing formulas close to the vest, one would guess that Israel-Africa’s stock price and debt woes over the last year automatically placed them on a sell list. In other words, not only was the decision to “divest” in Israel-Africa not motivated by politics in any way, it looks like this was a decision that could have been made by a computer following MSCI’s indexing algorithm with no human decision making (political or otherwise) involved.

Just to add insult to injury, the press release informs us that “…TIAA-CREF funds and accounts had investments in companies in Israel and around the world” (including hundreds of millions invested in Israel, as of their June report).

If we were following the BDS rules, the headline should read: TIAA-CREF confirms its continued support for the Jewish state in the face of pressure by those calling for it to divest in Israel. That certainly comes closer to the truth than what’s being peddled online by a divestment “community” desperately seeking something they can pretend is a victory, in the face of nearly universal defeat here on planet earth.

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