Harvard’s Israel Portfolio

Back in March the Berkeley student senate demanded that the university “divest from companies that provide military support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” It doesn’t appear that the University of California, Berkeley has actually divested from anything so far.

Well Harvard actually did it, perhaps to avoid Berkeley-style awkwardness. According to an IvyGate piece by Constance Boozer:

On Friday the 13th, Harvard’s Managing Company filed its holdings for the 2nd quarter to the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission)…. When one compares its most recent filings to those reported on May 14, 2010 for the 1st financial quarter, a trend emerges – …five companies [Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., NICE Systems Ltd., Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Cellcom Israel Ltd., and Partner Communications Ltd.]… have been sold. These five companies represent all of Harvard’s investment in Israeli companies. Further, Harvard is, at the time, the only known university to remove all its endowment funds from Israel.

It sold off its stock in these companies very quietly, however. John Longbrake, Harvard’s senior director of communications, said that the Israel sales were routine investment decisions and did not represent a change in policy about the university’s endowment:

Israel was moved from the MSCI, our benchmark in emerging markets, to the EAFE index in May due to its successful growth. Our emerging markets holdings were rebalanced accordingly. We have holdings in developed markets, including Israel, through outside managers in commingled accounts and indexes.

Um, thanks for clarifying.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer