Update: Harvard explains Israel share sales: it wasn’t divestment, it’s just that Israel is no longer an emerging market (Business Insider).
Did the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions for Palestine movement just make a historic advance? Harvard University has sold close to $40 million of shares in Israeli companies:
In another blow to Israeli shares, the Harvard Management Company notified the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday that it had sold all its holdings in Israeli companies during the second quarter of 2010. No reason for the sale was mentioned. The Harvard Management Company manages Harvard University’s endowment.
Harvard Management Company stated in its 13-F Form that it sold 483,590 shares in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) for $30.5 million; 52,360 shares in NICE Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: NICE; TASE: NICE) for $1.67 million; 102,940 shares in Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) for $3.6 million; 32,400 shares in Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE:CEL; TASE:CEL) for $1.1 million, and 80,000 Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR) shares for $1.8 million.
Some commentators plausibly argue that Harvard’s decision was purely financial and not a political decision. Indeed, were it actually an explicit act of divestment there would surely have been a carefully crafted statement explaining their decision.
Even so, the effectiveness of the BDS movement may well depend less on persuading capital to move with principal (it never does) but on companies, institutions, artists and other players coming to the self-interested conclusion that doing business with Israel is bad for business.