Liberty proudly counters trend of divesting from Israel

Liberty University thinks the trend of divestment from companies associated with Israel presents a golden opportunity—not just for financial gain, but also to deliver a poke to the liberal eye.

The school announced in a press release Tuesday that its Investment Committee has officially authorized an “Israeli-focused endowment investment” of $5 million, which will initially be concentrated in Israeli healthcare companies.

“Israel is a hotbed of healthcare and technology venture capital, and allocations to managers in these sectors are a logical complement to Liberty’s investment portfolio,” explained John Regan, Chief Investment Officer for Permanens Capital, which manages the investment.

What makes the investments even more attractive, though, is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has pressured colleges and universities around the country (with occasional but limited success) to sell off their investments in any company that so much as does business with Israel.

[RELATED: REPORT: Despite BDS movement, no university has fully divested from Israel]

While BDS supporters frame divestment as a response to Israeli “violations of Palestinian rights,” they define corporate “complicity” in the broadest terms possible, even targeting companies such as Caterpillar and Hewlett-Packard.

[RELATED: Israeli divestment bill seeking to boycott HP, Boeing vetoed at USF]

In some cases, their zeal gets the better of them. In February, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Minnesota issued a statement calling it the university’s “social responsibility” to divest from four companies that do business with the Israeli government, only to be informed that the school could not comply with their demands, since it had no investments in those companies to begin with.

Beyond filling the void created by those schools that have divested, Liberty also describes the new investment fund as a statement about both its support for Israel and its rejection of the BDS movement.

“Liberty University’s support for Israel is longstanding,” university President Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in the press release, adding that “scores of Liberty students and faculty have visited Israel and collaborated with Israeli academic institutions.”

Moreover, the release notes that Liberty’s student government, in explicit contrast to those at many other schools, even went so far as to amend its constitution last year to forbid any legislation advancing the goals of the BDS movement.

[RELATED: UCSC student gov pressures Jewish rep to abstain from Israel divestment vote]

The university says it is planning to expand on the initial $5 million investment in the future, with a focus on “leading-edge development projects in the technology, medical, and defense industries.”

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