Sep 2, 2010

Californians asked to restrict public retirement investments in Israel - #BDS

Businesses related to the construction or maintenance of Israeli settlements, including those in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or that provide military supplies and services to Israel would no longer be investment opportunities for the nation’s two largest public employee pension funds under an initiative that has been given the okay to gather signatures.
If it makes it to the ballot, is approved by voters and survives the usual gauntlet of lawsuits, it would also require the Public Employees’ Retirement System and State Teachers’ Retirement System to urge these companies to stop those business activities, and, subject to fund fiduciary responsibilities, to divest from companies still engaged in these activities.
It also would prohibit retirement funds from making new investments in these companies.
The proponent for this measure, Chris Yatooma of Sacramento, must collect signatures of 433,971 registered voters – the number equal to 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election – in order to qualify it for the ballot. He and his supporters have until Jan. 31, 2011 to do that.
“We hope California will be the first state to apply a comprehensive divestment strategy that other states will follow,” Mr. Yatooma says on his website for the initiative. “This divestment approach looks to mirror the divestment strategy embodied by the worldwide anti-apartheid movement that toppled white rule in South Africa.”

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