Aug 17, 2010

Harvard not divesting from Israel

Harvard University sold off some of its investments in Israel but is not divesting itself from the Jewish state and the portfolio changes were not politically motivated, according to the university's spokesman.

Reports that Harvard sold off all of its holdings in Israel sparked immediate outrage across the Internet Monday morning, based on the news that the Harvard Management Company's most recent SEC filing revealed that it had sold stocks amounting to $39 million in Israeli companies such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., NICE Systems Ltd., Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., Cellcom Israel Ltd., and Partner Communications Ltd.

But Harvard spokesman John Longbrake tells The Cable that the filing shows only a change in holdings, not a change in policy.

"The University has not divested from Israel. 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," he said.

Harvard still is invested in Israel, Longbrake said, but he declined to go into specifics. He said the filing in question only represents a small portion of Harvard's overall portfolio, which is about $26 billion.

In other words, Israel's growth and development resulted in a status change whereby the stocks could no longer be considered "emerging market" holdings, requiring Harvard to rebalance its emerging market portfolio.

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