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Palestine solidarity movement speaks out at MN State Board of Investment meeting

By Meredith Aby

Brandon Schorsch of the Anti-War Committee.

St. Paul, MN – On March 2, the Minnesota State Board of Investment (SBI) which includes Governor Walz, Attorney General Ellison, State Auditor Blaha and Secretary of State Simon, met for the first time this year at the state capitol. They meet quarterly to monitor the investments of Minnesota public employees. At the meeting members of the Palestine solidarity movement spoke out.

One of the speakers was Brandon Schorsch, an anti-Zionist Jew and activist with the Anti-War Committee, who stated, “So today, building on our testimony from last August, we bring a list of well over a dozen companies that the SBI is currently investing in that are knowingly violating international law by doing business in or aiding in the development of illegal settlements. Most notable on our list today is Elbit systems, in which the state is moderately invested. Elbit systems is known for manufacturing drones, cluster munitions and various different surveillance technologies used not only in implementing apartheid policy, but also on the United States-Mexico border, used for the very border wall to which many of the members of this body have publicly stated their opposition.”

Schorsch concluded, “In 2020 this body made a commitment to Environmental Social and Governance standards, and has since become a member of several different ESG organizations including the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. One thing that we have found utterly lacking in the SBI's current ESG commitments is any set of standards regarding what is and is not appropriate for “defense” contractors, or standards for proven violations of international law. We encourage this body to follow the actions of HSBC, Deutsche Bank and numerous European and state pension funds that have chosen to divest not only from places that are knowingly violating international law, but also from numerous arms manufacturers. We ask you today to consider divesting the rather modest sum currently invested in illegal Israeli settlement practices in Palestine, and to further consider adopting stronger standards regarding financial investment in war manufacturers moving forward.”

Afterward, Mary Bader from the MN BDS Communities addressed the SBI. She urged the SBI divest from their $77 million dollars of public employees’ retirement funds which are invested directly in Israeli securities, “Just this past week, illegal Israeli settlers staged a pogrom – a word that eerily and ironically reminds us of atrocities European Jews themselves endured. A vigilante mob descended on three Palestinian towns, burning homes to the ground, torching cars, killing one man and injuring hundreds of others. Throughout the attack these vigilantes were protected – not stopped, protected – by the Israeli soldiers who stood by watching the rampage. Conditions in Israel are so chaotic and unstable and Israel’s future so uncertain, foreign investors have begun divesting from Israel, and Israelis themselves are moving their money out of the country. So should the SBI.”

The next meeting for the SBI will be on May 25.

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