Friday, August 3, 2012

Illinois automatic Israel bond purchases continue

As I have mentioned in the past, each year the Illinois State Board of Investments makes a purchase of $12 million in Israel State debt. This automatic purchasing began when Illinois State Senator Jeff Schoenberg, a strong supporter of Israel, got legislation passed that allows Illinois to purchase foreign debt.

Since that time, with the exception of a couple of early years when one or two other countries had debt purchased by Illinois to give the appearance of impartiality, Israel's $12 million from Illinois has stood alone as a single foreign debt line item in a list of well over 100 other items all of which are U.S. government or agency debt.

2012 will be no exception.

Here is my letter to each member of the 9 member Illinois State Board of Investment...

Dear (board member's name):

As you know, the rule of law is vital to the functioning of society. We in Illinois and the United States are expected to obey the law. So it is with countries. The U.S. repeatedly calls upon other countries to uphold the law.

At the end of World War Two, in an effort to prevent the seizure of territory by conflict and the moving of the citizenry of the conqueror onto such land as Germany had done, the 4th Geneva Convention outlawed the practice.

You, as a member of the Illinois State Board of Investment are in a position where you can and do choose to invest in a country that flagrantly violates the law of the 4th Geneva Convention to which the United States is a signatory. Israeli settlements are that violation.

In a story filed by reporter Chaim Levinson on July 31 in the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, was a story under this headline: “Israeli Government Spent 1.1 billion (in Israeli currency) on Settlements in 2011”

This year, in a continuing series since Senator Jeff Schoenberg, a supporter of Israel, made it possible through legislation, Illinoisans, most of them unaware, have been supporting Israel with their tax money through the decision of the investment board to buy Israel debt and that of no other country.

Though there are many countries that meet the qualifications for the investment of Illinois funds, the fact that Israel alone is the beneficiary makes it clear that the return on investment is not the primary reason for this essentially automatic annual purchase of $12 million that appears as a line item each year. I doubt that any annual discussion of this beyond the perfunctory takes place; the idea that it is a good thing to do going unquestioned.

I want to strongly urge you to reconsider this automatic purchasing because there is no restriction on how Israel may use money obtained from Illinois. The consequences are grave for hundreds of thousands who you do not see and do not hear from, people who have no Illinois State Senator to plead their case before you make your decision.

Last week in the New York Times, Member of the Israeli Knesset, Dani Dayan wrote an opinion piece stating that the settlements are here to stay and everyone should get over it, an echo of Germany’s assertion that conquered Eastern Europe was “living room” for Germans to use. Your actions make Dayan’s stance possible. End the purchase of Israeli debt by Illinois. You owe it to the rule of law.

Clif Brown

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