January 25, 2024
We, as rank-and-file members of DC 37, call on NYCERS to divest from all Israeli bonds and holdings in industries that fund and profit off of the ongoing violence in Palestine.
We issue this call in the wake of multiple tragedies and escalated violence. In response to the tragic loss of 1,200 lives on October 7th, Israel launched a devastating campaign against the people of Gaza, resulting in unprecedented levels of death, injury, and displacement. The tightened siege and bombardment of Gaza has killed over 25,000 civilians, including 11,000 children. Nearly 8,000 people are reported missing under the rubble. Hospitals, schools, residential blocks, and refugee camps are being bombed, while water, fuel, electricity, medical supplies, and internet access have been cut off, leaving many to face mass starvation and disease. Over 1.9 million people – 85% of Gaza’s total population – have been displaced as a result of Israel’s military campaign.
New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), New York City’s largest public pension system, is using the retirement savings of city employees to finance military aggression against civilians in Gaza.
We demand Comptroller Brad Lander and the NYCERS Board of Trustees carry out the divestment of the System’s investments in securities issued by the State of Israel and Israeli companies. Israel’s violations against the Palestinian people for over 75 years have been well-documented by many UN organizations and international rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The recent escalation in Israel’s military campaign has amounted to what many are calling a genocide. In solidarity with Palestinian trade unions, we, the undersigned, call upon NYCERS to ensure that our paychecks are not invested in bonds and industries that fund and profit off the ongoing violence against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and across occupied Palestinian territories.
As of January 2023, NYCERS holds approximately $115 million in Israeli securities. These investments encompass millions of dollars in government bonds and equity holdings in companies engaged in chemicals production, weapons manufacturing, and oil exploration, including:
- Over $30 million in short and long term bonds. The purchase of Israeli bonds directly funds Israel’s military forces and activities, including:
- The ongoing, indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza by Israeli military forces,
- The creation of 279 illegal settlements in the West Bank
- The unlawful, indefinite administrative detention of Palestinian citizens,
- The 16 year long land, sea, and air blockade of Gaza, which has restricted the flow of people, goods, energy, and clean water into Gaza;
- $2.8 million in oil production and exploration. Israel is extracting and profiting from occupied land. Since October, Israel has awarded 12 licenses to six companies to explore natural gas fields off the coast of Gaza;
- $2.3 million in ICL Group. Chemical manufacturer ICL produces white phosphorus for American projectiles. The US Army then provides these projectiles to Israeli forces to kill and injure Palestinians in besieged Gaza; and
- $1 million in Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms producer. Elbit Systems markets their weapons as “battle tested” on the people of Gaza.
Although these investments amount to only 0.15% of the System’s entire investment portfolio, we recognize the material and symbolic impacts of divestment. We know that the Board of Trustees understands the importance of such an effort, as this call to divest from Israeli securities is not without precedent. In March 2022, NYC Comptroller Brad Lander presented a resolution urging the divestment of over $30 million from Russian securities to all five of New York City’s public pension systems’ boards. The boards passed said resolution within three weeks, with New York City politicians applauding the moral reasoning behind the decision.
As rank-and-file members of DC 37 who contribute to and benefit from the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and care about the lives of working people everywhere, we refuse to support the Israeli government and the corporations that extract profit from the killing of innocent civilians.
We call on fellow DC 37 members and other public sector union members to demand Comptroller Lander and the NYCERS Board of Trustees divest from all Israeli bonds and holdings in industries that fund and profit off of the ongoing violence in Palestine.
Disclaimer: Names will be published once 500 signatures have been reached. If you wish to remain anonymous, please indicate so in the submission form.