New Jersey Divests From Danish Bank Over Its Support for BDS
One of the biggest victories that American pro-Israel activists have claimed in recent years is the passage of nearly two-dozen state laws meant to counter the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Anti-BDS measures have been passed in 23 US states, as legislators across the country have proven willing to put the force of law behind their support for Israel. Still, the push for anti-BDS legislation left a coast-to-coast body of statutes that have gone largely untested in reality—at least until last month.
In late December, governor Chris Christie announced that the New Jersey state government had sold off its investments in Danske Bank in compliance with a 2016 anti-BDS law. Danske is Denmark’s largest bank, with over a half a trillion dollars in total assets. The bank currently includes two Israeli concerns, Aryt Industries and Elbit Systems, in its list of “excluded companies” whose work violates the bank’s social responsibility policies. The bank maintained that prohibiting the investment of its clients’ assets in these two companies didn’t constitute a boycott of Israel. Still, Elbit mostly makes electronics, and pro-Israel advocates argued that it was the only company with that specialization on Danske Bank’s ban list. As of January 2017, the bank’s website included an “Areas of Conflict” investment policy that discussed only one issue in any real depth: Namely, the legal status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.