In the latest declared victory for the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement worldwide, Harvard University, one of the most prestigious and oldest universities in the United States, has sold off all of its shares in Israeli companies.
Although the university did not list a reason for the sale, student activists who have targeted the University’s financial department for over a year claimed credit for the divestment. Some economic analysts, however, speculated that the sale of stocks was due more to the poor performance of the companies in question than the political pressure put on the University by student activists.
According to the official filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Harvard Management Company sold 483,590 shares in Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA) for $30.5 million; 52,360 shares in NICE Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: 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) for $1.1 million, and 80,000 Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR) shares for $1.8 million.
Other US colleges and universities, including Hampshire College and Evergreen, have divested from Israeli companies – but none of the other institutions had holdings as extensive as Harvard’s.
Activists pushing for divestment from Israel say that this tactic puts economic pressure on the state of Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians, which they call ‘apartheid’ and compare to the race-based discrimination and separation carried out by apartheid South Africa until 1994.