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Minnesota calls for justice for Jenin, urges divestment from Israel

By Elizabeth McLister

Protesters demand the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI) divest taxpayer

Saint Paul, MN – On July 7, 80 protesters gathered on the Marshall Avenue/Lake Street Bridge to demand the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI) divest taxpayer money from Israeli bonds and companies.

Demonstrators spent time on the bridge chanting and holding signs, before marching to Eastcliff Mansion, where Governor Tim Walz temporarily resides. Speakers with the Anti-War Committee (AWC) and other grassroots groups highlighted Israel's recent attacks on Jenin in their calls for divestment.

Nick Tolliver of the AWC declared, “The violence of Israel's government's occupation was fully on display in the recent attacks on the Jenin refugee camps in the West Bank, where 12 Palestinians were murdered in a fruitless attempt to stamp out the resistance of the Palestine people.”

Tolliver was referring to Israel's July 3-5 siege-like offensive on the Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin. Occupation forces spent 48 hours unleashing drones, helicopters, bulldozers and over 1000 ground troops in the largest invasion of any West Bank city since 2002.

These aggressions resulted in at least 12 deaths, over 100 injuries, and the displacement of thousands of Jenin residents. During the attacks, critical infrastructure was lost, roads were demolished, emergency response vehicles were blocked, and 80% of homes in the Jenin refugee camp were destroyed.

Taher Herzallah of American Muslims for Palestine condemned U.S. silence in the face of the Jenin raids, saying, “The United States of America was quiet. This quiet was complicity. This quiet shows that the United States of America was observing what Israel was doing with every single penny that it provides for the purpose of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”

The Biden administration has indeed remained quiet about recent assaults in Jenin, even as international human rights groups have sounded alarms.

Every year the U.S. sends $3.8 billion in taxpayer money to fund the Israeli occupation of Palestine. What's more, the United States routinely shields the Israeli government from having to answer for its criminal activities against the Palestinian people.

At the Saint Paul event, speakers highlighted specific ways the state of Minnesota fuels apartheid conditions in occupied Palestine. The Minnesota SBI has invested over $800 million in public funds in Israeli bonds, weapons manufacturers, and other companies complicit in Israel's aggressions.

As a result, many Minnesotans' pension funds are bound up in such entities as Elbit Systems, an Israeli arms dealer that boasts about testing lethal munitions on Palestinians and is actively constructing portions of the border wall infrastructure between the U.S. and Mexico.

Teacher Anne Keirstead asserted, “As a person who believes in social justice, I find it unacceptable that my pension dollars are supporting the oppression and ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government.”

Before the crowd dispersed, organizers urged the public to join them at the upcoming SBI meeting. That meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 23 in the G23 Senate Committee Room of the State Capitol building.

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