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Minnesotans demand state divests from apartheid Israel

By Yossi Aharoni

Minnesotans push for divestment from Israel.  | Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco

St Paul, MN – On May 21, the Minnesota State Board of Investments (SBI) held its second quarterly meeting of 2024. The meeting began with an extensive discussion on “ethical investments” related to green energy and combating the ongoing climate crisis. What was not brought up by board of investors was how much Minnesota annually invests in companies and shareholdings connected with the ongoing genocide in Palestine.

Residents, constituents, pension-holders and anti-war activists packed the meeting to let the SBI know that the people demand immediate and direct divestment from Israeli bonds, and from all companies that profit off Israeli apartheid, including but not limited to Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems and BAE.

Asiyah Ahmed from the MN Anti-War Committee gave an impassioned speech, stating, “As we know, SBI channels $3.25 billion into bolstering Israel, funding companies notorious for human rights abuses such as Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, and Lockheed Martin. These investments, drawn from the hard-earned pension and retirement savings of public employees, electively endorse genocide, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Now, let's turn our attention to the devastating impact of these investments in Gaza. In places like the Jabalia refugee camp, which has been relentlessly bombed, and among the 900,000 refugees who have fled Rafah in the past few days, the brutalization and exploitation of the Palestinian people remain consistent. Just yesterday, a request for an arrest warrant for some Israeli leaders accused of crimes against humanity was made, emphasizing the urgency of our actions.”

The most fiery speech of the day was given by Sana Wazwaz of the MN American Muslims for Palestine. Wazwaz castigated the SBI for their continued investments in Israel and the hypocrisy they demonstrated by claiming a deep care for climate change while wholly ignoring their investments in a leading contributor of climate change, militarism, most especially Israeli militarism.

Wazwaz addressed the SBI stating, “As a recent graduate with hopes to become a Minnesota school teacher, it devastates me to know that my future pension funds are going to be invested in not just the slaughter of my family, but also my planet, your planet, and the planet that my grandchildren will inherit. How dare you all pat yourselves on the back and attempt to stall your constituents with this phony climate investments roadmap without divesting from the perpetrators of climate destruction. How dare you? You cannot play fireman and arsonist at the same time. Respectfully you have millions invested in the government that’s responsible for destruction of over half of the water facilities in Gaza according to UNICEF. According to National Geographic ,in 2023 alone over 2000 of the olive trees in the West Bank alone were destroyed in just one month. How can you attempt to talk about planet investments while not divesting from the thing that is actively harming the environment tenfold. The time to divest is now!”

Many other speakers took to the podium as well showing their support for divestment including members of Jewish Voice For Peace, the New Testament United Theological Seminary, AFSCME 3800 and a professor at the University of Minnesota.

The SBI meeting was followed with a press conference in the hall featuring many of those who took to the podium stating that the people will not stop fighting for full divestment until Minnesota divests entirely from all entities tied to apartheid Israel. The next Minnesota State Board of Investments meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 14 at 10 a.m.

#StPaulMN #MN #AntiWarMovement #Palestine #JVP #AFSCME #MNAWC #AMP #SBI