Divesting from Israel is a strategy that has been practiced by many organizations for almost two decades. The campaign has drawn the participation of various groups, including churches, students, and international non-governmental institutions. It has also evolved into a greater general movement dubbed BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Inspired by the success of similar campaigns against apartheid South Africa, the divestment campaigns aim to put pressure on the Israeli government to end occupation and human rights abuses of the Palestinians.
Just today, the Olympia Food Co-op in Rachel Corrie’s home town of Washington state decided it will no longer sell Israeli products in its grocery stores. Rachel Corrie was an American student and International Solidarity Movement activist who was killed in Gaza in 2003 while protesting a home demolition. She was run over by a bulldozer driven by an IDF solider.
Rob Richards, a board member of the co-op states: “I am trying to be realistic – the Olympia Food Co-Op boycott is not going to change the Israeli policy, but I believe that these small drops will eventually have an effect. I would like to see more co-ops joining the boycott and more voices involved.”
Also in the news for their divestment efforts is JVP, Jewish Voice for Peace. JVP just held its annual meeting in New York City to deliver over 12,000 signatures to the company TIAA-CREF urging it to divest from companies such as Caterpillar, Northrop Grumman, and Motorola. JVP wants TIAA-CREF to “stop investing in companies that profit from the
Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”
Though divestment is an ideal strategy, it may lack economic effects that are significant enough to bring about change. However, if such efforts are publicized enough, that may bring about the attention needed to pressure governments to change their policies.