SPSC not only welcomes the decision by Falkirk Pension Fund to divest from Israeli Bank Hapoalim, but also the rationale for reaching that decision. The Scottish pension fund, which manages £2.3 billion in the pension funds for Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Councils, sold off its £6m holding in Bank Hapoalim following an assessment by the Fund Manager that concluded the political and reputational risks associated with Israeli Bank Hapoalim were significant.
The Fund management had earlier “challenged the Bank on several occasions regarding their activities in the Occupied Territories and their approach to human rights” and reported that Bank Hapoalim “admits that it provides mortgages to customers in the occupied territories” despite, as Falkirk Pension Fund notes, “business activity in the occupied territories is generally considered a breach of international law”.
Both Lothian and Tayside Pension Funds still hold stock in Bank Hapoalim.
Israeli army snipers in Gaza in recent weeks, firing over open ground at distances of several hundred yards, have shot dead over 140 demonstrators and deliberately maimed over 2,000 Palestinians, sometimes caught cheering as their victims crumple to the ground. The Palestinians killed include many children, journalist, medics and double amputees. The British Government continues to expand arms sales to the Israeli regime, including parts for sniper rifles. The UK Government refused to support a motion passed overwhelmingly by the UN General Assembly on June 13 calling for “Protection of the Palestinian civilian population”.
The Israeli Knesset has just passed a law denying Palestinians any right to self-determination in Palestine, reserving that right exclusively for Jews worldwide.
Sam Macartney of Unison Scotland International committee welcomed Falkirk Pension Fund's action:
"In the week we have witnessed the disgraceful actions taken by the Israeli State in removing recognition and rights to self-determination of Palestinians, which now confirms this government as an apartheid regime, it is refreshing to see a Scottish authority take such action on local government pensions.
We now see one members pension schemes divesting from companies who are unethical and support apartheid regimes. I would hope that other authorities will take similar actions and follow Falkirk Council's stance."
Read more about Bank Hapoalim's invovlement in Israeli apartheid:
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has been campaigning with partners, including Unison Scotland and Scottish Friends of Palestine, in the Time to Divest campaign across Scotland to pressure local authority pension funds to divest from companies complicit in Israel’s crimes. The decision by Falkirk Pension Fund can be the first of many if we campaign effectively.
We can do little in the short term to inhibit the genocidal killing sprees of the Israeli regime but we can channel the rising worldwide anger at Israel’s crimes into support for the BDS Call from Palestine. BDS is the only force that the Israeli regime fears; we have won some victories in the ‘B’ for Boycott fight; now we ask you to help us build on the ‘D’ - Divestment front and clean up all Scottish pension funds.
Go to www.timetodivest.net to quickly send a current email to your own councillors to start the process of divesting from companies involved in Israel's crimes.
Come to our meetings where we develop our strategy and tactics to build effective solidarity.
If you can’t, we also need ‘keyboard warriors’ to maintain the flow of letters, calls and emails to your councillors to follow the example of Falkirk Pension Fund - or to build support in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire for the actions already taken, which will provoke the usual pro-Israel email attacks emanating from New York to Adelaide.
We need your support - Donate to our £10,000 Financial Appeal - half of monies raised between now and the end of October will be divided equally with the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall)