Harvard University cuts its losses and dumps all investments in Israel

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.

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5 thoughts on “Harvard University cuts its losses and dumps all investments in Israel

  1. Norman

    I agree with the last sentence above. Perhaps if every University that has funds invested in Israeli businesses divested like Harvard, then perhaps the outcome might be like when they divested in the Apartheid South Africa, change. If Israel can move beyond the present mindset, make peace with the rest of the middle east instead of being at odds, always blaming others for being anti-Semitic, reminding the World what took place 0ver 60 years ago, then the middle east could become a powerhouse in its own right. There is no need for Israel to continue acting like a bully, which only feeds the animosity that lives today.

    I also don’t understand why the U.S.A. should stand up for Israel as to bombing Iran because of the desire to have Nuclear facilities? Israel has them, so why shouldn’t other countries have the same? I don’t really believe the bogyman will use the Atom Bomb there, as that would not only destroy the middle east, but probably mankind as we know it. With all the talk of fear, that some crazy group or other will use it to blow up someone else, then it should be the # 1 priority to making Peace.

  2. Christopher Hoare

    Pertinent information would be whether these were the entire holdings and where the money was moved to.
    At a time when many financial experts are counselling US investors to move their assets to the developing world, and to get out of the US markets, it would appear moving the money to the US could be a principled action, while taking advantage of better prospects elsewhere would make it a financial one.

  3. scott

    Chris, good points–since I’ve nit picked you, thought I’d express my accord.

    Norman, you aren’t in Florida are you? You have connections to NASA? (I’m wondering if I might know you)

  4. Edward Ulysses Cate

    Being from the midwest, it’s always been interesting that in David McCullough’s biography of former president Harry Truman, is this quote: “If Jesus Christ couldn’t make these folks happy when he was here on earth, what the hell do they expect from me?”

    Unfortunately, because Zionists used his good friend Josephson to get Truman to change his mind, Truman signed the statehood papers against the judgment of his State department, and those papers were immediately taken to the UN. For a lot of good folks, it’s been hell since.

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