Debunking The Divestment Apocalypse

If you read the news today, you might have heard about the latest divestment by a Dutch pension firm:

Jan 8 (Reuters) – A major pension fund manager based in the Netherlands said on Wednesday it will divest from five Israeli banks over their dealings with Jewish settlements on occupied land.

The move by PGGM reflects tension between Israel and the European Union over doing business with Israeli institutions involved in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

PGGM cited a non-disclosure policy it said barred it from publishing exactly how much it had invested in Israeli banks, but gave a general estimate saying its largest client had shares in these banks totaling at least 9 million Euros in 2012.

Crispian Balmer, Reuters Bureau chief in Israel, tweeted:

Surely, our end is nigh.

Well, not exactly. Journalists have an uncannily short memory span. For the same reason that every article about Hezbullah mentions the 2006 war, but not the 20+ years of constant terror before it, so do doomsday reports about BDS fail to notice what happened to similar cases in the near past.

One such group who divested by the millions is the Norway Government Pension Fund Global, aka The Oil Fund, who for the past several years divested from several Israeli firms. These divestments were hailed, like in the case of the Dutch firm, as the harbinger of Israel’s imminent collapse, and surrender to the international lawfare assault.

Elbit

The first headline-grabbing Norwegian oil fund divestment was Elbit, on the grounds of it taking part in the construction of the illegal life saving barrier.

The Oil Fund sold all its shares in Elbit on December 31st, 2008, at that time worth $5.9 million, with the official “divestment” coming 7 months later.

As of publication, Elbit stock was $65.5.

Elbit

As you can see, the immediate affect was nada. And while prices slumped over the next years, it has recently gone back up, partly due to the $85 million contract to provide advanced helmets to the JSF program.

Interestingly enough, around the date The Oil Fund sold its Elbit stocks, they were worth ~$45. When the divestment was publicised, they were worth ~$70, a 55% increase. Talk about unsound monetary decisions.

In the years following, The Oil Fund was the BDS Messiah, divesting from several other “unethical” Israel companies, along with other global companies such as tobacco firms, or companies that operate in Syria, Iran and Myanmar.

On August 23rd 2010, the Oil Fund Divested from two Israeli real estate companies, Africa-Israel (AIF), and Danya Cebus (an AIF construction subsidiary), citing the usual “ethical guidelines.”

Africa-Israel

As of publication, the Oil Fund had invested $320.8 million in Israeli stocks, with AFI being worth $1.16 million before divestment.

Africa-Israel

AFI’s daily trade volume over the past 30 days is some ₪1 million, or some $285,000. Its trading volume the day of divestment was just shy of ₪3 million, or $790,000 at that day’s rate.

As you can see from the stock value over time, the immediate affect of this divestment was zilch. In the long run, there’s a steady decline in AFI due to bad investments.

Danya-Cebus

As of publication, Danya-Cebus stock was ₪1411. Today, it is scratching ₪2000, a 41% increase.

Danya-Cebus

The immediate affect of the divestment was gurnisht.

Adding insult to injury for BDS groups, The Oil Fund had recently reverted it’s decision regarding AFI and Danya-Cebus.

Shikun & Binui

On June 17th, 2012, The Oil Fund divested from yet another Israel real estate and development company, Shikun & Binui.

As of publication, Norway’s investment in the company was $1.4 million, and the stock value was ₪615.

Shikun and Binui

Since then, the stock has mostly only rose, and though there seemed to have been a dent, by year’s end, it had not only regained its value, but increased it.

You see, all these companies are constantly bidding and winning contracts worth millions and billions, in Israel and abroad. That puts the single digit millions divested in perspective. The trickle will not turn into a flood, as said trickle is but a drop in the global economy ocean.

Another point that needs to be made is Israel’s place in the global economy. The pessimistic pundits are probably lamenting this divestment right now, and will probably publish an op-ed for NYT or Ha’aretz tomorrow, saying out loud: “See! We told you so! Israel is doomed”.

Apart for the usual fear mongering, these op-eds will miss a crucial thing. Sure, Israel is singled out for divestments, it’s their money, so it’s their hypocritical decision to make. But for every $million divested, there are $10 million invested. Just recently, while the Dutch divestment was being finalized, Israel talked to Intel about a $15 billion investment over the next decade.  The annual direct foreign investment in Israel is around $10 billion.

Oh, sorry, I guess I should write $9.99 billion. A pension firm in Holland just divested, we’re doomed.

About Judge Dan

Dan Smith has been exposing anti-Israel fallacies since the first time he opened the world wide web on Netscape Navigator, sometime in the late 90's. His lack of formal journalistic, political and sociological education means he is still capable of objective, unbiased views and opinions. A judge of media, pundits and media pundits.

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