AJWS Launches Targeted Divestment Initiative Against Sudan

First National Jewish Organization to Promote Targeted Divestment

NEW YORK, February 21, 2007—American Jewish World Service announces the launch of a targeted divestment initiative as part of its ongoing advocacy campaign to end the genocide in Darfur. This initiative will promote individual, institutional, and government divestment from companies that help finance the Sudanese government’s brutal campaign against the people of Darfur.

Though the U.S. government banned American companies from doing business with Sudan, many U.S. corporations, mutual funds and individuals are invested in foreign companies that operate in that country. Some of the mutual funds and investment firms invested in companies working in Sudan include Berkshire Hathaway, Fidelity and TIAA-CREF.

As the first national Jewish organization to promote targeted divestment, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) will promote and support targeted divestment efforts through a multi-pronged approach. At the core of this effort will be the mobilization of AJWS’ grassroots network of 24,000 Darfur activists who will be called on to support targeted divestment personally, in their community organizations, cities and states as well as by the federal government.

“AJWS’ targeted divestment initiative is a very exciting way to engage the many activists and synagogues who are committed to stopping the genocide in Darfur,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS.

“Murder and devastation continue daily in Darfur, and our money absolutely cannot be used to support this genocide,” continued Messinger. “Targeted divestment is an effective strategy for citizens to express their outrage and put economic pressure on the government of Sudan to change its ruthless behavior.”

Clearinghouse for Action
AJWS will serve as a resource and clearinghouse for this national targeted divestment initiative. Information and tools will be provided on the AJWS web site to help individuals screen their investments (ajws.org/darfur). These will include answers to frequently asked questions, a link to a tool for screening mutual funds, and sample letters for contacting money managers and investment firms.

On the organizational level, AJWS will focus on synagogues and Jewish community organizations as well as colleges and universities. AJWS activists will be urged to work with their congregations, Jewish organizations, colleges and universities to ensure that their investments are not helping to fund the government of Sudan’s genocidal campaign. A sample divestment policy for institutions will be provided.

“As we know from the divestment campaign in South Africa, religious institutions and institutions of higher education hold tremendous sway in shaping public opinion and effecting government policy. They can do no less now for the people of Darfur,” said Messinger.

“We’re delighted that organizations like the Jewish Council for Public Affairs are considering divestment resolutions,” said Messinger. “The AJWS Rabbinical Council strongly endorsed AJWS taking on this divestment initiative.”

At the government level, AJWS will work with local activists to support municipal resolutions as well as binding targeted divestment legislation proposed by states and by Congress. Soon AJWS will make available an interactive map on its web site that will have information about legislative activities in cities and states.

To view the entire press release, please click here.  

For all media inquiries, please contact:
Tim Lessick
212.792.2846