Illinois Becomes First State in America to Divest Public Pension Funds from Foreign Companies that Boycott Israel

Governor Signs Historic Anti-BDS Law in Illinois

Illinois Becomes First State in America to Divest Public Pension Funds from Foreign Companies that Boycott Israel

 

CHICAGO – Flanked by bipartisan legislators, Jewish community leaders and the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed historic legislation making Illinois the first state in America to divest its public pension funds from companies that participate in the Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) movement targeting Israel.

 

The Illinois law is the first state-based measure to take specific concrete action against boycotts of Israel.  The legislation, which was modeled after past measures relating to Iran and Sudan, requires state pension systems to terminate direct investment in companies that boycott Israel and issue warnings to fund managers when such companies are held indirectly inside larger portfolios.  The statute defines “boycotting Israel” as “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”

 

“We need to stand up to anti-Semitism whenever and wherever we see it,” Gov. Rauner said.  “This historic legislation is an important first step in the fight against boycotts of Israel and I hope other states move quickly to follow our lead.  I want to thank Sen. Silverstein, Rep. Feigenholtz and all the sponsors of this legislation for working with our Administration to take a stand against BDS.”

 

The anti-BDS measure, SB 1761, was initiated by Gov. Rauner and sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) and Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago).  It passed 49-0 in the Senate and 102-0 in the House.

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