The Minnesota DFL Progressive Caucus unanimously passed “a resolution to divest from Israel bonds,” according to a report on TCJewfolk.com.
“The resolution was introduced by local pro-Palestinian activist Elisabeth Geschiere, and accepted unanimously toward the end of the three-and-a-half-hour caucus meeting,” writes Jenna Mitelman on TCJewfolk.
In an update to the original TCJewfolk post, Mitelman notes thatÂ Geschiere broke the news of the DFL Progressive Caucus action on her Twitter page, then deleted the post. However, some blogs copied the image of the original tweet (below).
The full text of the resolution read:Â “Be It Resolved that the State of Minnesota shall divest from all Israel bonds investments.”
Mitelman decried the resolution, noting that the DFL Progressive Caucus apparently believes that “democratic Israel should be counted alongside genocidal Sudan and terrorist-sponsoring Iran,”Â as nations from which Minnesota should divest.
Mitelman also mentions that the DFL Progressive Caucus resolution does not suggest divesting from investments inÂ Russia (which “leveled the Chechen capital Grozny”) and China (guilty of the “brutal oppression of Tibet”).
The resolution passed by theÂ DFL Progressive Caucus does not reflect the views of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, Kristin Sosanie, DFL Party deputy communications director, told the American Jewish World on Thursday.
Brian Melendez, DFL Party chair, responded to the anti-Israel resolution passed by the Progressive Caucus, in a letter sent to the DFL Central Committee this week.
This resolution was offered, without prior notice, toward the end of a three-and-a-half-hour [annual] meeting. The Progressive Caucus has 25 voting members, not all of whom were present.
I have already heard the false claim that “the DFL” now supports the Progressive Caucus resolution. But of course, the DFL Party does not take a stand unless and until a resolution is supported by a 60-percent vote at the State Convention or by the State Central Committee. And the Party has taken the stand that “We Support: Israel’s right to exist within secure borders, Palestinian rights to self-determination, and continued peace efforts in the Middle East.” That plank is the only time that Israel or Palestine is mentioned in the DFL Platform. That plank expresses the DFL Party’s view on Israel. The Progressive Caucus resolution does not.
The Progressive Caucus and its members, like all DFLers, are free to advance whatever resolutions they like at precinct caucuses. We are a party with a big tent and an open mind. But no party unit, nor any member or group of members, speaks for the whole DFL Party except through our constitutional processes. The divestment resolution that the Progressive Caucus considered yesterday has not gone through those processes; does not represent the Party’s view; and is antithetical to the Party’s long-held view in support of Israel’s right to exist, since bonds are how Israel has financed its infrastructure.
Melendez also said in his statement that he talked with “several Jewish legislators who are gravely offended by the resolution. I have also talked with a few Progressive Caucus members who were present at the meeting yesterday, and I understand that the pro-Israel view was not meaningfully considered.”Â He added that Steve Linnerooth, the newly elected Progressive Caucus chair, has agreed “to revisit this issue” at the group’s next meeting.
DFL Party precinct caucuses will takes place around the state on the evening of Feb. 2. In addition to endorsing candidates — there are many contenders for governor on the DFL side — resolutions on various issues are sometimes brought up at caucuses and other party conventions.
Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), also issued a statement this week, which took aim at the DFL Progressive Caucus resolution:
The JCRC expresses its strongest disapproval of the recent DFL Progressive Caucus resolution calling for Minnesota to divest its holdings from Israel bonds.
As a matter of policy, divesture is morally wrong as it places Israel, the Middle East’s only true democracy, on the same level as Sudan and Iran, two repressive regimes, recognized by the United States State Department as state sponsors of terrorism.
Moreover, marginalizing Israel, one of the United States’ strongest allies and an important trading partner for the State of Minnesota, will do nothing to advance a peaceful and just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Minnesota State Board of Investment, which is responsible for investment management of retirement funds, trust funds and cash accounts, reported a $59.4 billion market value of all assets, as of June 30, 2008.
The AJW is attempting to determine what amount the board has invested in State of Israel Bonds. The board’s 2008 annual report states that all of its international stock managers have invested about $14.2 million in Israeli companies. This represents .19 percent of theÂ Board of Investment’sÂ international aggregate stock pool, which totals nearly $7.3 billion. — Mordecai Specktor