FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Using Pension Money to Fund Israeli Bonds is Both Wrong and Illegal

The Minnesota State Board of Investment is honor bound when it invests monies from Minnesota’s public employee pension funds. Each of the Board members, which includes Governor Mark Dayton (Chair), State Auditor Rebecca Otto, Secretary of State Steve Simon and Attorney General Lori Swanson know, or should know, that the Board has violated its fiduciary responsibility to only invest public pension funds prudently by investing in Israel Bonds. Israel Bonds are government bonds issued by the State of Israel.

Earlier this month, I appeared before the Board members to urge them not to invest in Israel Bonds. Immediately after I ended my presentation, the Governor handed the other Board members a previously prepared written motion to continue investing the state’s pension funds in Israel Bonds. All of us in the packed hearing room understood that my testimony had been wasted. Facing members of the pro-Israel Lobby who had been seated in the front row, three of the four board members voted to invest. Only the State Auditor, Rebecca Otto, voted against the motion.

I’ve seen this pressure before. It usually consists of a subliminal threat by the pro-Israel Lobby to cut off any campaign money to those who defy what the Lobby wants. That is the same kind of threat that allowed Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to travel to the United States to dictate to our Congress how American foreign policy should be conducted. I believe that the 36 standing ovations for Bibi and the 47 Republican Senatorial signatures on the letter to Iran were eager messages to the Israeli Lobby telling them how much Congress appreciated the campaign money given each election cycle to its obedient members. When I served in the US Senate I well remember the threats directed against me for not being obedient enough to the Lobby.

The Board of Investment’s vote to use Minnesota pensioners’ money to buy the low-yield bonds issued by Israel is, without question, highly imprudent and illegal, especially because the Board knows how the money will be used. American money plunged into Israel Bond sales is fungible, meaning that the money is lumped into Israel’s General Fund, and then used for anything Israel wants, without
abourezkrestriction. That also means that the money sent to Israel is used for settlements. Israel’s settlements are illegal under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupier from transferring any part of its civilian population into the territory it occupies. Article 49 was adopted by the international community after WWII as a direct response to Nazi Germany’s illegal and brutal occupation of lands belonging to its neighbors. Both the United States and Israel have signed the Fourth Geneva Convention.     Even the United States Government has acknowledged that Israel’s settlements are illegal.

Beyond just exploiting American elected officials in their political zeal to become complicit in financing illegal Israeli settlements by using money from taxpayer funded public employee pension plans to do so, Israel has a long history of inflicting damage on American interests. During the 1967 Middle East War, Israel’s military attacked and attempted to sink a fully flagged American Navy vessel—the USS Liberty—which had been ordered to monitor the War by assuming a listening post off the coast of Egypt and Israel. Using fighter jets, as well as torpedo boats, Israel killed 34 American sailors and wounded another 171 sailors in the process.

What was painful for the survivors and the families of those Americans killed and wounded by Israel were the duplicitous actions of our own public officials, starting with President Lyndon Johnson, by refusing to allow fighter jets of the Sixth Fleet to come to the aid of the Liberty when it was under attack and working to cover up evidence of Israel’s deliberate attack on our ship and the killing and wounding of our sailors.

That wasn’t the last injury against American interests by our so called “ally.” In the 1970s, Israel recruited and paid a Pentagon employee, Jonathan Pollard, to sell to Israel a “truckload of secret documents,” as described by our then Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger.

More recently, a Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, was indicted by the Justice Department in 2004 for handing over classified information on Iran to two employees of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the leading lobby for Israel. Franklin, a former United States Department of Defense employee, pleaded guilty to several espionage-related charges and was initially sentenced in January 2006 to nearly 13 years in prison. Amazingly, Franklin’s sentence was later reduced to ten months house arrest and 100 hours of community service. In reducing his sentence, the Judge told Franklin that his community service should consist of “speaking to young people about the importance of public officials obeying the law.”

Franklin had passed highly classified information to AIPAC policy director Steven Rosen and AIPAC senior Iran analyst Keith Weissman, whom AIPAC later fired. Initially indicted for illegally conspiring to gather and disclose classified national security information to Israel, all charges against Rosen and Weissman were eventually dismissed.

These are just a few examples that we know about where Israel’s activities have seriously damaged United States interests. What we do not know, including the extent of the duplicity of our public servants, would most likely fill the pages of a book.

Not only is the Investment Board’s action imprudent and illegal with respect to giving Minnesota retirees’ money to a country that has never hesitated in harming America’s interests and will use the money to violate international law, it also tells Israel that it can do what it wishes, without paying any penalty, and that it can even get the United States to pay the price for it.

The Minnesota Investment Board should obey the law whether or not Israel’s Lobby dislikes that decision.

James Abourezk is a former US senator from South Dakota. He is the author of: Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of an ex-Senator.

 

 

More articles by:

James Abourezk is a former US senator from South Dakota. He is the author of: Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of an ex-Senator.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail