Why Did Harvard Sell Off Its Israel Shares?

Fred emails: “Doubtless, Harvard was caving into pressure. If my alma mater did this, it would be the last time they ever saw a cent from me.”

Chaim Amalek emails: There is another, more foreboding explanation floating about: Harvard’s fund managers have reason to believe that Israel is going to try to take out Iran’s nuclear installations sometime soon (Drudge reports that it has an “eight day window” in which to act), thereby igniting firestorms of terror and war across the globe and, of course, tanking Israel’s stock market. Or maybe they are just weighing the probabilities and deciding that pulling out of Israel is the prudent thing to do until the dust settles.

The Atlantic Monthly has some interesting pieces on this topic.

A FRIEND EMAILS: Excellent question re Harvard selling its shares in Israel but only in that it indicates just how blindly loyal many American Jews are to Israel, and the knee-jerk reaction of defending the occasionally indefensible

According to both CalPers recent report on its investments in Israel, as well as the independent report of HaAretz, the newspaper of record in Israel, every
single major Israeli Venture Capital fund was reporting a loss for at least the second year running, many now down 30%+. And of course, the recent
scandal involving Markstone Capital in Los Angeles certainly did not endear Israeli investments to anyone. From the perspective of any investment committee,
Israel has turned in an absolutely turgid return on capital relative to other emerging markets.

Harvard’s decision was valid, hardly unique and arguably long overdue. The real question is why don’t American investors know or care? The days of investing
in Israel as charity are long over, and certainly was never the mandate of major university endowments during adverse market years.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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