Sunday, January 1, 2012

Inspiring rally at the capitol on December 12th followed by disappointing performance from the MN State Board of Investments (SBI)

Over 40 members and allies rallied at the State Capitol last Monday before the final quarterly meeting of the SBI. Four rousing speeches were then given by different co-plaintiffs on the lawsuit, each one filled with inspiring passion and conviction. MN BBC was especially thrilled that the Bi'lin Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, one of the leading organizations in the non-violent resistance movement in the West Bank who also signed on as a co-plaintiff to the lawsuit, shared a powerful message that was read aloud by member Beth Atim during the rally. Click these links for YouTube videos of the Rally and SBI meeting!

Immediately following the rally, the crowd of MN BBC members and allies packed the room for the SBI meeting. The fact that MN BBC and a number of co-plaintiffs were suing the state was reported by the Deputy Attorney General. It was clear that most of the board members had not familiarized themselves with the complaint. Governor Dayton stated that he took offense with our accusation that the Board is acting illegally when the Attorney General already told us that it's fine for them to be investing in Israel Bonds. It seemed to elude him that the lawsuit is our way of saying, “We beg to disagree!”

Another member of the board also responded to our assertion that our taxes ought to be invested in morally sound ways by saying, “Whenever I have a difficult situation on any of the boards I serve on, I always go back to my authority and my responsibility as defined by state law and the constitution. And they don’t list morality….” Although this is the same tune the SBI sung last March when we presented to them the first time, it is still disheartening to hear public officials make such statements.

Our self-described local opposition, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Minnesota and the Dakotas, also attended the SBI meeting and their president, Steve Hunegs, spoke up in defense of investing in Israel Bonds after MN BBC members finished presenting. He focused on the JCRC's and AIPAC's favorite broken record, the two-state solution, but his statements did not address any of the reasons why such a solution is becoming less and less viable daily, namely due to Israel's ongoing colonization of Palestinian lands, apartheid policies, and occupation. It so happens these are all of the same reasons MN BBC is calling for divestment, but Hunegs prefered to focus on other, more “pleasant” things Israel is doing. His comments can be heard starting at minute “16:20” in this YouTube video.

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