While several US states to date have tabled or passed laws in support of Israel to counter Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) efforts, Illinois is the first to put its money where its proverbial mouth is, listing 11 companies banned from doing business with the government because they have divested from Israel. The list was approved Friday, reported JTA.
In May of last year, Illinois became the third state to pass a law opposing BDS, but was unique in prohibiting state pension funds from including in their portfolios businesses which participate in the anti-Israel movement. It passed unanimously in both the Illinois House and Senate.
The legislation bars pension systems funded by taxpayer dollars from “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”
The Illinois Investment Policy Board, a state agency, has named 11 companies which fail to meet this standard. Among them are several who continue to do business within Israel’s pre-1967 borders but not Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, and two which claim their divestment decisions were economically rather than politically motivated.
One of the companies on the list, British-based security firm G4S, announced earlier this month that it would be selling off its Israeli holdings. G4S has been targeted repeatedly by BDS supporters, with multiple entities cancelling contracts with the company in recent months. Although BDS activists claimed victory for the G4S decision, the company insists it was strictly a business move. Nevertheless, the Illinois Investment Policy Board felt it disqualified the security firm from state investment.
Like G4S, Dexia Bank of Belgium recently sold off its Israeli affiliates in a move heralded as a win by the BDS movement. The bank claims, however, that following the 2008 financial crisis, it was forced by the French and Belgian governments to sell some of its holdings.
ASN Bank of the Netherlands pulled money out of Jerusalem’s light rail project, which runs through Palestinian neighborhoods, noting ethical concerns guide its investment decisions, although it continues to do business with at least one company which operates within the Jewish state’s pre-1967 borders.
Another “ethical” bank on the list, Danske Bank of Denmark, will not invest in Judea and Samaria-based companies. Israeli security equipment manufacturer Elbit is on a list of similar companies denied funding from Danske, also for ethical reasons.
The BDS movement targets companies which support Israel with the intention of applying financial pressure on the Jewish state to acquiesce to Palestinian demands. Despite its human rights trappings, BDS activists are often motivated by anti-Semitism. Illinois and more than 20 other US states are demonstrating clearly God’s promise to Abraham: I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse.