ABP, the Netherlands’ €325bn civil service pension fund, has said it will not divest from three Israeli banks due to their alleged involvement in the so-called occupied territories of the West Bank.In a statement, the board responded to an open letter from Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop for South Africa, who recently waded into the debate over whether the Dutch pension fund should remain invested in the banks.The board said it would stick with its existing policy for responsible investment and that, “based on objective and rational criteria, the investments are not in violation of national or international legislation”.Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, argued that ABP had in effect contributed to human rights violations through its €68m investment in Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot. The ABP board discussed Tutu’s letter today, together with a petition calling for divestment signed by more than 1.7m people.The petition was organised by Avaaz, an online civic organisation promoting activism.The former archbishop’s letter comes as a report commissioned by Avaaz claimed that roughly 50% of the Dutch public believes ABP’s commitment to the banks is “irresponsible”. Of the 1,000 respondents to the survey, 10% said ABP’s stakes in the banks were of no concern, while approximately 40% said they had no opinion on the matter.The survey asked: “If the directors keep ABP’s investments in Israeli banks that support the settlement of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers, would you view their decision as responsible or irresponsible?”Avaaz said survey results were roughly the same among ABP participants.The civil service scheme said it also received approximately 1,500 emails in support of the investments from members of the Christians for Israel organisation.Earlier today, ABP spokeswoman Jos van Dijk said: “We are dealing with very contradictory signals, which make decision-making very complicated.”Now, ABP has said it plans to maintain its investments in the banks, as it has found no evidence they are involved in human rights violations.According to the pension fund, the banks have merely facilitated money transfers within the so-called occupied territories.Earlier this year, the €152bn healthcare scheme PFZW made the controversial decision to divest from five Israeli banks, including those in which ABP is invested.
After finishing its regular season in style with a 16-4 romping of conference foe San Diego State last Saturday, April 25, the USC women’s lacrosse team will begin their postseason on Saturday at the MPSF Conference Tournament in Denver, Colorado.Though the team has yet to find out who they will match up with — that will be determined by the winner of a Friday night bout between Oregon and tournament host Denver — the Women of Troy will be riding a fair amount of regular season conference confidence after finishing second in the MPSF with an 8-1 record and a 12-4 record overall.Only undefeated MPSF Conference champion Stanford finished with more conference wins than the Women of Troy, who made significant gains in just their third year as a program. Last year, the team finished 9-9 overall after tallying an 8-10 record in their inaugural 2013 season.USC’s only losses on the year came against ranked opponents, and among their conference victories they boast victories over each potential Saturday opponent.The Women of Troy defeated Oregon 13-11 on the road on Friday, April 3 behind four-goal outbursts from two sophomore attackers in Michaela Michael and Cynthia Del Core. The team defeated Denver in their final home game of the season on Sunday, April 12 by a decisive 16-4 score.USC had four players tally hat tricks in the rout, as junior attacker Caroline Cordrey, junior midfielder Amanda Johansen, sophomore attacker/midfielder Kylie Drexel and Michael all put home three goals during the senior day celebration.If the Pioneers come away victorious on Friday, they will undoubtedly have revenge on their minds after being embarrassed in their regular season matchup with USC. Despite the loss, Denver finished third in the MPSF with a 7-2 conference record and 12-4 overall record.Denver boasts a formidable offensive attack that will lead a bid to defend their 2014 MPSF Conference title.The Pioneers are led by senior attacker and main facilitator Jill Remenapp, who has tallied 56 points on 19 goals and 37 assists this season. Redshirt freshman attacker Nicole Martindale leads the team with 33 goals scored on the year, and senior midfielder Kiki Boone has added 29 goals of her own while winning 52 draw controls.Should the Women of Troy have to match up with Oregon, they will be facing a 10-7 regular season team with a 4-5 conference record. USC’s two goal victory over the Ducks earlier in the season, however, marked the closest conference game the team has played this season.The Ducks boast two 30-plus goal scorers in junior midfielder Carly O’Connell (32) and senior attacker Olivia Pyne (34). Freshman attacker Cambi Cukar has dished 35 assists this season, helping set up her fellow teammates.O’Connell has also won 51 draw controls and collected 26 ground balls this year.No matter which team USC will battle with on Saturday, as long as they focus on their own effort first, they are confident in their chances.“The most important thing is for us to continue to improve on things from our last game against San Diego State,” head coach Lindsay Munday said. “We have the game film from both Oregon and Denver and we’ve been preparing for both, but because we won’t know until Friday, we are planning on taking care of ourselves first and then making the adjustment to whichever team we end up facing later.”Ready to lead the Women of Troy offensively against either opponent will be team points-leader in junior attacker Cara de Lyra, who has tallied a 60 points on 32 goals and 28 assists this season.De Lyra has been instrumental in setting up teammates Michael (46 goals and 11 assists) and Johansen (37 goals and 10 assists), helping the Women of Troy flaunt a very balanced scoring attack.“I get more hyped up when I get an assist, instead of a goal,” de Lyra said. “I really like to see the other girls on the team scoring and playing really well together. That’s all that matters.”Defensively, USC will be anchored by a collection of mainstays in junior Courtney Tarleton, sophomore Nina Kelty, and seniors Kaitlyn Couture and Kaila Sommi, among others.Anchoring the Women of Troy is standout freshman goalie Gussie Johns, who has made 74 saves while holding opponents to a 7.58 goals-against average in a stellar first-year campaign.Though the pressures of the playoffs may be enough to faze certain teams, the Women of Troy are confident that together as a unit, they will be ready to perform. Their strong team cohesiveness and depth have been season-long calling cards, and are crucial to the team’s success.“Our team chemistry is really great this year,” Kelty said. “We are really hard to scout because we have so many people coming in and out and scoring and winning draw controls and contributing. It makes us hard to scout because we are so unpredictable.”The first faceoff for Saturday’s matchup is set for 6 p.m.